SUPPLYING carcase feedback to the farmgate in a way that facilitates the production of higher yields and better eating quality was the way to unlock future value in the beef game.
Tom Maguire, from Australia’s second largest meat processor Teys Australia, says technologies supporting objective animal and carcase measurement are evolving at a rate of knots and will support accurate individual assessment and feedback.
There was no shortage of data, it just wasn’t “useable” at the moment - it had to make its way back to the producer in a way they could take action on, he said.
Teys is a big advocate for value based marketing (VBM) - payment on the basis of actual weight and quality.
It’s the way the beef industry can most efficiently deliver to the consumer a product that meets their needs - and in doing that lies the opportunity to lift returns to all sectors of the supply chain, according to Teys.
Mr Maguire told hundreds of beef producers at an industry breakfast in Alice Springs recently the current grid system was not doing the job of communicating to the people who grow the animals what the true value of a carcase was.
In condemned offal alone, his estimate is there is $100 million in lost opportunity for the industry that could be rectified “just by giving people data they can use.”
VBM wasn’t just about unlocking potential value - it was about survival, he said.
Two years ago Teys ticked over 70 years and took the opportunity to sit down as a business and work out how it was going to be there for 70 more, he said.
“We said to ourselves there is no hope if we keep doing the same thing,” he said.
To remind us “how important we’re not”, he pointed out there were a billion head of cattle around the planet (compared to Australia’s 26 odd million).
“What that tells is that in export markets we don’t get too much say,” Mr Maguire said.
The industry had to recognise how expensive Australian beef was in world terms and compared to other proteins.
“Playing in the commodity market is not a way to keep shareholders interested in our business for the long term,” Mr Maguire said.
“We must evolve to survive.
“We have to give the consumer what they want because in the end none of us earn a dollar if it isn’t for the person putting their hand in their pocket to pay for a meal, a hide or byproducts.
“And we know (from Meat and Livestock Australia willingness-to-pay research) that if we do the job well, consumers will pay more.”
In the past 12 months, Teys has been working to get systems in place that resembled the video referee or third umpire in terms of carcase measurement.
This included dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), which the company viewed as a prerequisite for automation.
Making the grid system transparent and objective would link in with continued work on collaborative relationships, Mr Maguire said.
“The message is we are selling beef brands around the world to customers, we can’t continue to do that if we don’t have the supply,” he said.
“It’s no good making promises if we can’t deliver.”