Working hard for Japanese beef markets

30 Sep, 1999 08:22 AM
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FORMING beef industry alliances and paying strict attention to what consumers want are necessary to maintain a supply of beef to Japan, according to Diana Nottle. Mrs Nottle and with husband, Rob, run a 5000-6000 head a year feedlot at Three Springs. The Nottles feed their cattle out to 800-900 kilograms over 365 days before they are slaughtered and boned in WA, before being shipped to Japan. Mrs Nottle, addressing seminar delegates at Beef Production 2000 Onwards, said that in Japan, beef was not just beef. "They are connoisseurs of beef," she said. "They know exactly what they want." Mrs Nottle said the company they supply sells the beef on to 15 major different Japanese companies, which have 100 outlets. She said Japanese consumers expected the same quality from their beef from week to week, month to month. "They expect the product to be the same, as much as peas in a pod as possible," Mrs Nottle said. To meet this requirement, certain criteria had to be met on the meat itself, including meat colour, moisture, texture (firm), taste, marbling, consistent quality of meat, continuity of supply, packaging and cutting lines. "They want this all the time," she said. Mrs Nottle said alliances had developed because product was needed 12 months of the year and that there was a long-term future for beef producers wishing to supply their feedlot. She said May through to August was the most difficult time to get cattle. Mrs Nottle said the Three Springs feedlot needed 18-24 month-old Shorthorn, Angus and Murray Grey steers that were well structured, with no fat. The animals also had to have good frames, as they needed to be able to carry another 300-400kg. Mrs Nottle said they supplied 600 cattle a month to Japan, with their customers indicating demand could be as high as 9000 head a month. "We certainly are paying premiums for good cattle," she said, recommending that potential suppliers keep records of growth rates and meat quality. ÿ

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Australia's live animal trade is nothing but a blood stained industry that suits those who