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Harper Adams students help judge England’s best pork products

Posted 4 March 2013

It has been a wonderful opportunity to see how a range of different flavours work to complement pork and has enabled Michelle and I to consider developing our products using these flavours

Paula, right, with two of her fellow judges from Ladies in Pigs

Two students from Harper Adams University were given the chance to sample some of England’s best pork products after being chosen as judges for a national competition.

Michelle Evans and Paula Lobb are second year students at the university and are behind artisan small business, Really Porky Pies.

The girls were asked to be judges for the Foodservice Pork Product of the Year 2013 competition after Keith Fisher from BPEX heard about their luxury pork pie venture.

Last week the girls joined fellow judges over two days in the university’s Regional Food Academy to sample the products entered in the competition, the results of which will be announced at a special awards lunch at Butchers’ Hall, London, on April 12.

Up to 130 products from butchers, farm shops, manufacturers, retailers and catering suppliers where sampled by the judging panel, which also included two representatives from Ladies in Pigs and BPEX foodservice trade manager, Tony Goodger.

Products were entered into six categories – Fresh Pork Cut, Pork Ready Meal, Best Cold Eating Product, Pork Bakery Product, Best Cured Product and Best Innovative Pork Product.

The judges were asked to put the raw and cooked samples through a rigorous analysis including assessing shape, size, texture, appearance, taste and much more.

Mr Fisher, product development manager at BPEX, said: “It’s the first time we have used students from Harper Adams. As a result, what I have here today is a mixture of experienced judges and new judges who have never done it before but they have experience of products and they bring something new to the competition. I also think the girls will get something out of it as well.”

Paula, 20, from Bristol, said: “Being invited to the BPEX competition by Keith was a real honour. We had such a fun time judging all of the products which ranged from barbecue pork to Chinese-style pork dumplings.

“It has been a wonderful opportunity to see how a range of different flavours work to complement pork and has enabled Michelle and I to consider developing our products using these flavours.

“Similarly is has been a privilege to meet and work alongside the other judges.”

Michelle, 20, from Church Stretton, in Shropshire, said: “It was really good to meet the lovely people from BPEX and to see all of the products that had been entered.

“There were so many innovative products which were presented to us and we really enjoyed trying them. We learnt a lot about pork and the flavours that work well, and not so well, together.

“We feel privileged to have been approached by Keith from BPEX to judge the competition.”

Fellow judge, Mr Goodger, said: “When it comes to meals eaten out of the home, pork meat has the largest share of the market, accounting for over 1.75 million servings and increasing year on year. Whether it’s a pie or a pate, ribs or a traditional roasting cut – it is safe to say that pork is a firm favourite on menus.

“It is this incredible versatility, coupled with good value for money that makes pork an ideal option for caterers – particularly in the current economic climate. What’s more, diners are clearly choosing to eat tasty and innovative pork dishes all the more when eating out.

“Customers expect quality and what better way to show it by not only using pork produced to rigorous standards as part of an assurance scheme, such as Red Tractor, but also being crowned Pork Product Champion.”

Paula and Michelle met through studying BSc (Hons) Food, Nutrition and Well Being and run the business alongside their studies, so all the work takes place in their spare time using the Regional Food Academy facilities.

Follow Really Porky Pies on Twitter – www.twitter.com/reallyporkypies

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