THE ability to pack and trade beef on eating quality alone via a new cipher in the Australian Beef Language has the potential to deliver a whopping additional $46.5 million per year to the supply chain, eliminating the lost opportunity of high quality meat being downgraded due to dentition.
That’s the finding of Meat & Livestock Australia analysis as the new Eating Quality Graded (EQG) cipher is launched as an alternative to dentition ciphers such as YG and YP.
Extensive research has concluded dentition – the number of teeth and animal has – has no impact on the eating quality of beef, yet it has been a long battle, waged mostly on the part of producers, to remove the traditional trading indicator of a beast’s age/maturity.
MLA general manager producer consultation and adoption, Michael Crowley, has described EQG, which is one of the first recommendations to be commercialised a “game changer”.
He said already commercial companies were behind it and product was going into international markets using the EQG descriptor.
“More than 100,000 consumers who have eaten more than 700,000 individual samples of beef over the past 25 years have told us dentition doesn’t impact eating quality,” Mr Crowley said.
MLA looked at a scenario of four and six-tooth cattle over the past 12 months which met MSA specifications and most company eating quality specifications.
The price differences were estimated as – four-tooth five cents a kilogram below YG graded cattle and the six-tooth cattle discounted by 30c/kg.
“If we could have packed that product on outcome first – without downgrading those animals – the extra value to producers would have been close to $9.5m,” Mr Crowley said.
“For the processor, brand owner and wholesale sectors, the extra value would have been $16.5m and at the retail level another $20.5m, based on known price differentials of MSA product collected at the retail sector.
“The total to industry is $46.5m in lost opportunity per year – what a great incentive for every step of the supply chain to get behind this.”
EQG is just one of the MSA changes in progress driving growth of the eating quality consistency program, which turns 20 in 2018.
Mr Crowley said the consumer had to be “in the clear line of sight of everything we do if we are to achieve additional value”.
“The consumer is the only one putting money into the (beef supply) chain and we are asking consumers to pay more than they ever have for our product,” he said.
“We can not let them down on quality.”
Mr Crowley said by 2020 the plan was to have all cattle eligible for MSA grading.
“That would mean we can predict the consumer outcome from all cuts and appropriately position them to their best end market outcome,” he said.
“That will lift the value of some cuts that are currently undervalued.”