New research has revealed hidden nutritional treasures within PGI Welsh Lamb, according to the sector’s largest ever lamb taste testing project.
Light has been shed on how farm and processing factors influence shoppers’ preferences through the Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project.
It seeks to help the Welsh farming industry prepare for an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
During the first scientific trials, three key factors were tested; type of cut, breed type and lamb gender.
Project results reveal that type of cut had the greatest impact on nutritional content.
Polyunsaturated fat content (PUFA) was analysed, showing that of the three cuts tested - loin, chump and topside - the chump recorded the highest levels.
The Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), which led the taste programme, said PUFAs include 'essential' omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Dr Eleri Thomas, HCC meat quality executive said: “Interestingly, the analysis revealed that the breed of the lamb had no large effect on the major fatty acid groups.”
Alongside the nutritional analysis, consumer taste panels were also held across the UK to analyse the effect of breed type, cut and lamb gender on lamb eating quality.
The consumer taste panels took place during January and February 2020 with 480 consumers tasting and rating seven pieces of lamb.
Consumers were asked to score the meat on the attributes of aroma, tenderness, juiciness, liking of flavour and an overall liking on a 0-100 line scale.
It was found that again the type of meat cut had an impact on eating quality with consumers detecting a variation between the muscle cuts, while there was no significant difference between breed or lamb gender.
Encouragingly, results showed that consumers, particularly younger groups, were willing to pay more for higher quality lamb.
Dr Thomas said: “Each year, the project will explore and analyse different on-farm and processing factors on the eating quality of lamb.
“Next year we will be investigating the effect of the lambs’ diet on the nutritional quality and its taste and flavour.
"There will be a sharpened focus on lambs that have been nurtured on different diets such as grass, fresh roots and brassicas.”