THE red meat industry will significantly boost spending to $121.3 million this financial year across areas designed to deliver greater benefits to producer levy-payers and industry partners, according to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Managing Director Richard Brooks.
Reporting to members at the MLA annual meeting (AGM) in Mt Gambier, Mr Brooks said the increased spending was a result of the company's policy of ensuring that levy funds do not accumulate as reserves.
"We are putting the funds to work where they are going to benefit industry," Mr Brooks said.
Mr Brooks said funding was always guided by industry input and projects were subject to review and performance assessments to ensure the work being carried out on behalf of levy payers and industry partners was returning benefit.
"Last year we achieved just over 75pc success in meeting key performance indicators, which given the nature of the work undertaken by MLA is a highly credible result," he said.
More importantly, results were being seen through increased weekly servings of beef and lamb, improved meat quality, the development of value-added red meat products, the protection of access to international markets, continued growth in exports and in the many 'tools' developed from on-farm Research and Development (R&D) results.
In particular there was substantial growth in the beef eating quality grading scheme Meat Standards Australia (MSA), with the number of cattle graded up 28pc for the year to October.
"The millionth MSA graded carcase went through in May this year. There are now 26 trade brands underpinned by MSA and over 1000 supermarkets, butchers and restaurants are MSA licensed. Product is graded in 35-40 abattoirs each month with supply drawn from 6500 producers," Mr Brooks said.
"MSA systems and technology are now being used by retailers and foodservice operators who collectively represent around 45pc of beef retailed in Australia, although not all product is trade marked MSA.
"MLA's objective this coming year is to maintain this growth in MSA by further extension in Victoria and South Australia and to encourage a broader adoption of in-house grading and, with independent audit, still ensure that the system's integrity is fully maintained.
"Expenditure on all aspects of MSA last year was $8.7 million and is planned at $8.2 million this financial year."
In marketing, a major $6.5 million nutrition campaign targeting consumers will be launched in February next year.
This follows the launch of the first stage of the nutrition strategy earlier this year that targeted health professionals.
"Already there has been an increase in the number of doctors and dieticians recommending red meat," Mr Brooks said.
On the overseas marketing front, not withstanding the BSE case in Japan, there has been significant growth and success in exports.
"We have been gaining share in Japan; Australia is well positioned for growth in the liberalised Korean market; lamb is expanding in the US; and other Asian markets such as Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia are growing for beef, lamb and mutton," he said.
"We see our role very clearly as one of opening market doors with generic support but then working on a cooperative basis with exporters in the various markets for product development."