RED meat supply chain information is being linked together in new ways aimed at connecting the dots on carcase value and shining a light on the pathway to the most profitable animals.
The first of a series of webinars as part of Meat & Livestock Australia's annual Updates program discussed how the value of an animal is likely a combination of how much meat there is to sell, how well it will eat and the impacts animal disease has on both those factors.
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Group manager for adoption and commercialisation Sarah Strachan outlined some fascinating insights emerging from looking at data collected as part of the industry's eating quality program Meat Standards Australia and connecting it with data from other industry programs.
In the area of yield, data for every MSA carcase over the past ten years has been generated and matched with eating quality information.
That's more than 30 million carcases analysed.
On the same carcase weight, the variation in lean meat yield equates to 45 kilograms of available meat to sell, Ms Stachan said.
"If that was sold as trim, at current prices it could be a $400 difference," she said.
What the data also clearly shows is that when lean meat yield is increased, eating quality decreases and vice versa.
"So there is a compromise to be struck," Ms Strachan said.
Analysis has also shown there is more than a three point difference in MSA index on average between a diseased and non-diseased animal.
That could mean the difference between beef making it into a premium brand and not even making MSA grade, Ms Stachan said.
On current prices, that could add up to as much as $300 a head in lost value, she said.
LINKING supply chain data such as carcase feedback, animal health and on-farm measurements would be key to capturing value by delivering a consistent and desirable product, the webinar heard.
"Over the past 20 years, we've seen price premiums paid to producers start to emerge and continue to increase year-on-year where producers listen to what the market is asking of them and respond," Ms Stachan said.
MSA, designed to address consumer desire to have known and consistent eating quality, this past financial year hit a milestone in that more than half of all cattle processed in Australia presented for grading.
That delivered an estimated additional $157m back to the farmgate.
There are now more than 200 MSA licenced beef brands, all commanding premiums.
MSA managers continually run taste testing panels to ensure the program stays in touch with what consumers are asking of Australian beef and in the past financial year, 19000 consumers were involved, Ms Stachan reported.
"Over and over again, consumers tell us they can detect differences in eating quality and they are willing to pay more for quality - up to twice as much for guaranteed eating quality," she said.
That response is the same in multiple countries across all demographics, she said.
MLA has planned more webinars in the lead-up to its annual general meeting on November 25, with next Monday's event to have a sustainability theme.
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