New horizons for maximising the value of the beef carcase
Pethick, D.W., Polkinghorne, R. and Thompson, J.M. (2010) New horizons for maximising the value of the beef carcase. In: 61st European Association for Animal Production (EAAP) Annual Meeting, 23 - 27 August, Heraklion, Greece.
The Meat Standards Australia (MSA) beef grading scheme can predict the eating quality grade of 40 muscles by 5 cooking methods. The quality grades, namely, unsatisfactory (2*), good every day (3*), better than eve1y day (4*) and premium (5*), represent the predicted rating of untrained consumers. This voluntary scheme has been operating for I 0 years in Australia and in 2009 the number of carcases graded reached 1 million with price premiums for farmers, wholesalers and retailers. Despite this success most product in Australia is sold as MSA beef with only a few supply chains marketing higher quality grades. The true potential of the MSA system will be discussed in a scenario where by yearling beef carcases (18mo, Bos taurus), which is optimally processed (tenderstretch hanging), are then deboned such that all muscles are allocated to an optimal quality grade by cooking method. Accordingly traditional cut nomenclature would no longer be used and instead beef would be sold as 4* steaks, 4* roasts, 3* stir fry etc. For example 4* grilling steak would be selected from 4-5 different muscles which conventionally retail at widely different prices (e.g. oyster blade at $AUS 10/kg and striploin at $AUS 25/kg). Based on both willingness to pay data gathered from 5 different countries (n=9,840 consumers) and actual prices received in an Australian retail business, the value of the new system can be estimated. Thus if 3* beef has a retail value of 100% then 4 * and 5* star beef can be sold at 150% and 200% of the 3* price respectively. The final scenario is to then overlay muscle yield with eating quality grade as a system that would deliver transparent value based payment back to beef farmers. The differences in the value of the carcases, corrected to constant weight, can range up to $AUS 700/carcase at retail, which is variably apportioned to differences in eating quality and yield.
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