Quality Standard Mark (QSM) is calling butchers to win-back shoppers in February, using cuts like the lamb valentine steak, alongside easy-cook accompaniments on their counter.

Kantar Worldpanel* research indicates that Valentine’s Day is one of the top four annual occasions and a time when all retailers can capitalise, winning hearts and pounds with the right choice of product.

However, fresh produce – as sold by butchers – is losing out to chilled ready meals at this time of year, when shoppers want the simplicity of a meal deal to save time in the kitchen and spend more with loved ones.

“We all know that steak is the number one choice for a romantic meal, when people are either eating out or cooking for a loved one at home. But there are real opportunities which can be created with different cuts and displaying accompaniments alongside them,” said AHDB’s Quality Schemes Manager Karl Pendlebury.

“The lamb valentine steak is a super cut with a very appropriate name for the occasion. Consumers are familiar with cooking methods for steaks, so they don’t feel put off by a lack of confidence and understanding how to cook it. Having a lamb option on the counter offers a good alternative to beef steaks and there’s also the opportunity to display accompaniments like sauces and vegetable dishes which are easy to prepare alongside, if you have the space.

“Ultimately, having everything in one place and then being able to cook a simple meal with a wow factor is what customers are looking for on this special day. Helping consumers and budding chefs to visualise what the lamb cut could become when it’s cooked is a good way to stimulate ideas, getting people to try and buy.”

In restaurants and food service outlets, Valentine’s Day also offers an opportunity for independent butchers and retailers to sell great quality beef and lamb cuts.

Quality Standard Mark Ambassador and Stoke Park Head Chef Chris Wheeler has created a dish with a lamb valentine steak, which includes herb pomme purée, curly kale, green beans, baby beetroot and a redcurrant jus.

He said: “The valentine steak is a truly beautiful cut of lamb which can be simply pan fried with a little butter and thyme or marinated then chargrilled. While it works well with complex flavours, it can also be adapted to a simple recipe, which your customers can cook quickly and easily, with little preparation.

“For restauranteurs and caterers, Valentine’s Day provides a very similar opportunity as it does for butchers, it offers a platform to encourage people to come in and buy delicious food while they celebrate together.”

To find out how to prepare the valentine steak cut, the specification is available from the AHDB Beef & Lamb Cutting Specification Manual, which is online at: qsmbeefandlamb.co.uk/books/cutting-specification-manual-lamb.pdf .

To become a Quality Standard Mark butcher visit qsmbeefandlamb.co.uk. In order to become a member, you must be sourcing QSM beef and lamb from another business that is also signed up to the scheme.