Gourmet meat for the pit

Gourmet meat for the pit

Forget chicken wings, crab sticks and otak, gourmet meats are adding thrill to the grill.

Butcheries and barbecue food suppliers are upping their game by providing adventurous marinades such as peri peri and including accompaniments such as cheese and fruit platters in their barbecue packages.

At least eight butcheries and barbecue suppliers are offering hassle-free barbecue packs that come with a diverse range of steaks, sausages, cutlets, burger patties and kebabs.

Most of these businesses have seen a 20 to 30 per cent increase in sales of grill-friendly meats and barbecue packages in the past year. Orders usually spike on weekends, the eve of public holidays or during the school holiday months of June and December. These are when barbecues are the focal points for get-togethers with family and friends.

While expatriates form the bulk of the customers, a growing number of Singaporeans are turning to gourmet meats for their barbecues.

Mr Ronald Ang, 75, managing director of Meat The Butcher in Bukit Timah Road, believes that more young adults are embracing barbecue culture from countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom.

He says: "They acquired a Western palate when they studied and worked overseas and want the same kinds of meats when they return home." His business has increased threefold since it started in 2008, with up to 120 customers in a day.

Also pushing up demand is the fact that there are more condominiums with barbecuing facilities.

Mr Ken Yeo, 42, owner of 15-year-old Ridgewood Gourmet in Ridgewood Close, says: "Barbecue pits are more easily available. There isn't a need to rent a public pit in East Coast Park."

Mr Lee Kok Lam, 43, general manager of The Butcher, which has shops in River Valley and Holland Village, has seen sales increase by about 20 per cent in the past year. He gets close to 2,000 customers a week.

He says: "They want to achieve the flavour of meats served in restaurants in their homes and want to show off their newly acquired grilling techniques picked up from our expatriate butchers."

Over the years, The Butcher's Dog in Great World City has increased its variety of meats by 30 per cent to include items such as venison flank steak and veal steak, and added grain- and grass-fed meats to the inventory.

Barbecue foods supplier Hungry BBQ also enhanced the quality of meats in its premium packages by replacing grain-fed Australian striploin with grass-fed New Zealand ribeye steaks, which is more tender.

The company sells at least 300 premium packages, which comprise more than 10 types of marinated meats and seafood, every month.

Mr Keith Lam, 33, a director at Hungry BBQ, says: "Most Singaporeans do not barbecue every day so they do not mind paying more for quality and uncommon ingredients, and the convenience of having the ingredients delivered to their doorstep."

He adds that most customers order a premium package on top of the regular packages to inject more variety into their party menus.

These days, importing premium meats does not cut it - some customers want ethically raised meats from traceable sources too.

Ms Sasha Conlan, 44, owner of The Barbie Girls, an online meat and seafood grocer, says: "Customers are more discerning and educated on the ill effects of mass produced foods and want to find out about the background of their food to ensure nothing nasty, such as growth hormones or preservatives, is added.

"Though people are eating less meat, they want higher quality meat."

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