Meat processor teams up with school pupils

Meat processor teams up with school pupils

Pupils at Bathgate Academy have presented the results of an exciting challenge to create and market a healthy new burger for leading Broxburn-based beef processor, AK Stoddart, to a panel of experts.

Pupils have teamed up with meat processor, AK Stoddart.

Pupils have teamed up with meat processor, AK Stoddart.

The challenge, which began in January and is supported by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), is part of an innovative partnership between the Academy and AK Stoddart. The partnership aims to help pupils develop business skills and learn about the many exciting careers available in the Scottish food and drink industry.

Over the last few months teams of 25 pupils at the Academy have worked together to learn about the range of jobs available in the Scottish meat industry and the skills required to bring new products to market. Some of the many activities pupils have undertaken to design and develop the healthy burger include: conducting market research, undertaking product development and designing packaging that meets all legislative labelling requirements.

Throughout the programme, experts from AK Stoddart have been on hand to assist pupils by offering a range of activities such as advice on packaging and marketing. Some pupils visited AK Stoddart’s factory to see how meat is processed and a visit to a farm was organised by the Royal Highland Education Trust to show pupils where meat comes from. Pupils also got the chance to have mock interviews for job roles with an industry expert and to find out more about jobs and skills in the industry. Quality Meat Scotland has also provided educational support materials and, through the successful QMS School Meat Voucher Scheme, certified independent retailers or butchers have provided the red meat required to make the burgers.

This partnership was set up by the Scottish Food and Drink Federation (SFDF) as part of its ‘A Future in Food’ national schools programme. A Future in Food works to build partnerships between Scottish schools and food and drink businesses, helping teachers, pupils and parents better understand where their food comes from, how it’s produced, and what careers are available in the sector.

Moira Stalker, SFDF Schools programme coordinator, said: “There are so many exciting job opportunities in food; in science, product development, engineering, marketing, nutrition and design. This project is a great way to get local children thinking about how their food is produced and how that relates to the many exciting jobs on offer.”

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Fantastic projects like this can inspire young people, helping them make the connection with where the food on their plates comes from, and encouraging them to consider a career in food and drink.

“By working with local companies, such as AK Stoddart which has grown over the years to be a leading player in the beef sector at home and abroad, young people can learn more about the role food plays in their lives, which helps them to make informed choices for their future.”

Lucy Husband, sales & marketing director, AK Stoddart, said: “We are delighted to be working with Bathgate Academy on this exciting challenge. The initiative will have given these young people an understanding of the demanding process and skills needed to develop new products and bring them to market. The quality of the proposals we received for this initiative was outstanding, and I am very excited about the impact this project will have. Hopefully this will have inspired young people to engage with and potentially pursue, a career in the food and drink industry.”

Leanne Farmer, home economics teacher at Bathgate Academy, said:
“This exciting farm to fork learning experience links directly with our Curriculum For Excellence course in S2. It is teaching pupils exactly where the meat they eat comes from, how it is processed and developed into a consumable burger product. Pupils will be learning about and adopting different job roles working in teams to compete and produce a winning burger product.”

Jim Mclaren, QMS chairman, said: “We are delighted to support this programme which is a great extension to our existing health and education activities including our free cookery demonstrations and our Go for it Scotland! Bursary.

“AK Stoddart is an excellent example of a short supply chain within the Scottish red meat industry – an industry which has a huge amount to offer the younger generation.

“This partnership offers a fantastic opportunity to educate pupils about the quality and traceability which underpin the Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially Selected Pork brands as well as inspiring them to think about a future career in the red meat industry.”

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