ORGANISERS of the consumer promotion campaign which accompanied the launch of Meat Standards Australia (MSA) in WA are confident their message is being successful. Following the introduction of MSA graded beef in March, there has been a carefully targeted campaign to publicise and promote the new scheme. With more than 500 accredited producers, and most major processors and 140 retailers handling MSA beef, the adoption of the program in WA has been proportionately far greater than launches in the eastern states. In WA, the MSA program is a partnership of Agriculture WA and Meat and Livestock Australia, a unique local move compared with MLA's overseer role for the previous two launches. Consumer figures indicate a strong endorsement of the introduction of the program, with a major research program now underway to track return purchasers and consumer trends. MLA consumer marketing manager James Kilmartin said the introduction of the scheme had been "solid" in WA, due to the strong adoption of MSA beef by retail butchers and independent supermarkets and the support from processors and producers. He said the penetration of product had met initial targets, with food service operators also providing strong support for MSA beef-based on security of product supply. Promotion in WA has been based on "A-list" retailers and food service operators, who are committing significant resources to MSA programs, rather than a generic campaign to promote MSA beef. Mr Kilmartin said this focus would continue and was attracting new retailers to the MSA program. Meanwhile, the first saleyard offering of MSA-accredited cattle is likely to be held next month. A shortage of cattle has stymied initial plans to hold an auction of cattle from MSA accredited properties in Wodonga, on the NSW/Victorian border. The MSA Pathways committee has developed 15 guidelines to running an MSA sale, following an announcement by the MLA in May that saleyards cattle would be allowed into MSA grading from July 1. Seasonal conditions in the Wodonga district have prevented agents compiling numbers for the sale in mid-winter, with about 100 head expected to be offered in mid to late August.