It seems barely a month goes by without some alleged crisis in the red meat industry hitting the headlines. We are, in some respects, an easy target. Yet, the fact the beef sector bounced back so strongly after Horsegate speaks volumes for the quality assurance schemes in place and the trust consumers put in them.

It was precisely to address the need for assurance - whether for consumers or businesses throughout the supply chain - that the Eblex Quality Standard Mark for beef and lamb was introduced. And it is because the industry must constantly seek to raise standards and continue to provide enhanced levels of trust, quality and assurance that it remains so relevant today.

The scheme was launched in 2004 to address consumer concerns about the eating quality of red meat - succulence, tenderness and consistency - and is acknowledged as having raised the quality bar over the past decade. Critical to its success is the fact that the whole of the supply chain benefits - from the farmer, through processors and suppliers to retailers and caterers and the consumer. The detail of the scheme relating to age restrictions on livestock, carcase specs and maturation regimes are critical, and provenance is also important. All these combine to deliver consistent product and enhanced eating quality.

We constantly monitor what consumers think about the scheme. The latest research earlier this year [YouGov Sixth Sense Survey] shows 50% of consumers recognise the Mark and understand what it means for beef and lamb. Reassuringly, 37% of consumers say they are more likely to buy beef or lamb when they see the Mark on pack. The scheme was enhanced with new specs in 2012 and we’ll work to ensure it continues to evolve to meet consumer expectations on trust and their demand for greater levels of assurance.

At a time when the red meat industry is under constant scrutiny, the Mark is a fantastic food story. The scheme is not simply a marketing platform to stimulate demand, it is a vital tool to enhance the reputation of the market and safeguard it.

Laura Bishop is marketing manager (quality schemes) at Eblex