Dick van Leeuwen, Business Development Manager for EBLEX, takes a look at how industry innovation and technological advancements have made the meat ordering process much easier. 


Dick van Leeuwen, Business Development Manager for EBLEXMeat ordering can be a complex process. There is an ever-growing variety of cuts for meat buyers to choose from and, traditionally, there has been an over reliance on suppliers to tell them what products are available. Consumer lifestyles and eating habits are constantly changing and, as a result, new products are regularly added to the market, not only to satisfy consumer demand, but also to improve carcase balance and utilisation.

The huge range of red meat products and cutting specifications available resulted in varying degrees of product consistency and standards across the industry. This was exacerbated by the variations inherent in meat carcases and processing methods.  

We recognised this issue and tackled it head on in 2007 when we launched the highly acclaimed EBLEX Meat Purchasing Guide. 

A genuine example of industry innovation, the first edition of the Meat Purchasing Guide included more than 220 Quality Standard Mark beef and lamb products, each butchered using the latest cutting methods and accompanied by its own unique identifying code for use when ordering. The guide included a CD-ROM, which featured the entire range of corresponding cutting specifications with step-by-step instructions for each product.  

Butchers, retailers and chefs immediately started to use the guide to great effect; selecting a particular cut or primal, ordering it from their supplier and emailing them the accompanying specification sheet which would instantly confirm their requirements.       

The guide revolutionised purchasing methods for beef and lamb, enabling all sectors of the industry to work together seamlessly in order to derive consistent quality and on-spec products every time. It also underpins EBLEX’s strategic objective of maximising the value of the carcase and ensuring greater profitability throughout the supply chain.  

The Meat Purchasing Guide has evolved, through six editions, and now features more than 450 cuts of Quality Standard Mark Scheme beef, veal and lamb.

Always keen to stay abreast of technological advancements, we were quick to make the Meat Purchasing Guide and Cutting Specification Manual available online. Embracing the latest software, we uploaded the guides to www.qsmbeefandlamb.co.uk in the form of flip-books and I’m proud to say they continue to be among the most popular resources on the site.  

Making the guide available online opened it up to the wider industry and helped cement its place as the indispensable buying guide for the meat industry.  

The full Meat Purchasing Guide and corresponding Cutting Specification Manual have recently been translated into French. Retailers and chefs across the channel are already using the guide and appreciating the unique EBLEX coding system. Meanwhile, a dedicated Lamb Purchasing Guide and Cutting Specification Manual featuring 150 lamb cuts have been translated for the Spanish market. 

We took the innovative step in 2013 of launching an app enabling caterers and retailers to order any of the products featured in the Meat Purchasing Guide direct from their supplier from either a tablet or smartphone.

The app is free to download and is a great mobile tool which not only simplifies the meat ordering process but saves valuable time for many businesses. 

Meat buyers are benefiting from more consistent products because, once an order has been placed through the app, their suppliers receive an email with direct links to online cutting specifications, with step-by-step instructions showing how to prepare and trim the cuts.

Developed for Android and iOS operating systems, the app contains a thumbnail image and description of each of EBLEX’s 450 cuts, along with cooking advice and a host of other useful features. 

The app has been downloaded more than 3,000 times and is proving a real hit with retailers and chefs – not just in the UK, but in other parts of the world – who are regularly using it to order beef and lamb products. 

While we are really pleased with the response we’ve had, we do think the app’s true potential has yet to be realised.   

The app’s greatest asset is its efficacy to anyone working in the meat industry: it is brilliant for buyers because they can tell their supplier exactly what they want, in terms of specification and level of trim; sales people can use the app when they are visiting customers to refer to particular cuts and primals; there are obvious benefits for product development teams; it provides a great training tool for staff who are new to the industry; it enables catering butchers to expose chefs to new cuts and ideas; and, importantly, it can help exporters showcase their beef and lamb products to overseas markets.    

So where do we go next? 

Well, by the time you read this article a new version of the app will be available to download. Chefs and retailers – and their supply chains – will be appreciating a number of enhancements, including additional features, access to an even wider range of resources and, most significantly, the inclusion of animal by-products and a range of pork cuts. 

We have collaborated closely with BPEX on the development of the enhanced app and I’m delighted to say that it now features almost 100 pork products, plus a wide range of offal and animal by-products which are of particular relevance to the export market. 

These new developments help establish the app as the indispensable meat ordering tool for anyone working in the industry.

This article first appeared in the January/February issue of Meat Management. 

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