Stateside mission sees award winning butcher bag steak and snack secrets

One of Wales’ leading young butchers has just flown in from San Francisco after an industry fact finding mission which he hopes will provide the Golden Gateway to exciting new product innovations in north Wales.

Award winner Peter Rushforth, of Swan’s Farm Shop near Mold, was chosen for a Hybu Cig Cymru - Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Scholarship to enable him to spend a month in the United States studying the cutting edge of beef butchery.

Peter’s main quest was to seek ways of adding value to the forequarter – seeking alternatives to the UK’s traditional lower cost mince usage - and also looking to diversify into cooked and cured meats alongside our premium fresh Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef products.

He visited Lincoln and Hastings in Nebraska, home of the Animal Meat Research Centre at Nebraska University; Olympia Provisions and charcuterie specialists Tails & Trotters in Portland, Oregon and Gary West Meats in Jacksonville, Oregon, with a final stop at the retail outlet of cured meat specialist retailer, Belcampo Meats in San Francisco.

“I really enjoyed the trip, it was a real eye opener and I have come back with some great ideas, but probably not the ones I thought that I would have had before I left!” Peter explained.

In America, he heard how ground-breaking research had delivered a staggering $1.5 billion dividend for the US red meat industry in the past year alone by identifying new steak offers for parts of the carcase that previously would have been consigned to diced or minced beef sales.

“It’s an astonishing $1.5 billion growth in twelve months and that works out at a gain per carcase of $70 extra dollars,” said Peter.

Peter also wanted to find out more about US Charcuterie and in particular to discover the recipe for success of a beef snack that is huge in the US and that can probably be traced back as far as the ancient Inca civilisation, Beef Jerky. Jerky is a form of meat preservation in which fresh meat is dried to prevent it from spoiling.

He visited Gary West Meats where Owner Paul Murdoch guided him around the process. “It’s more of a meat stick, cured outside but with more moisture, so it’s a much tastier chew for the consumer and it’s given me the idea of how to make more of our silverside and topside sales in north Wales in the summer in particular,” said Peter.

In a short but already accomplished career, Peter, 21, has racked up nearly as many butchery awards as he has lamb chops. Worldskills UK champion; Young Butcher of the Year and HCC’s Welsh Young Butcher Champion in both 2014 and 2015. Last week he added another, Cambrian Training’s Higher Apprentice Award.

His zest for the job and desire to learn and translate his new knowledge into new business opportunities at the busy Treuddyn shop, caught the eye of HCC’s Scholar’s team and, along with beef breeder Richard Roderick of Usk, he was awarded 2017’s  study tour.

James Ruggeri, HCC’s Industry Development Executive, said: “This year we were very pleased to offer the HCC Scholarship to two exceptional individuals. Both Richard and Peter are extremely motivated and ambitious and I am sure their findings will make a sound contribution to the advancement of the red meat sector in Wales.”