IF THERE has one been clear message that has been emerged from ongoing beef industry inquiries and soul-searching of recent years it has been that Australian beef producers and processors must work more closely to produce high quality product and to capture premium markets and premium prices.
A producer information day held at processor NH Foods’ Oakey Beef Export plant west of Toowoomba last week offered a powerful example of what can be gained when both sectors work more closely together.
Following a major redevelopment several years ago, Oakey Beef Exports is one of the most technologically advanced plants in Australia.
Carcases entering the massive temperature-controlled boning room are converted by teams of highly skilled boners and slicers into individually cryovac-packed primals and secondary cuts boxed and ready for delivery within nine minutes.
The skill of the staff, efficiency of the operation and quality control from a food-safety perspective are a key reason why Australia can offer significantly longer shelf-life of chilled product to export customers than any other competitor.
The plant is currently processing about 5000 cattle a week including 2200 cattle from Whyalla Feedlot and some service kills for AA Co and an organic supply chain.
About 50 producers toured the plant and saw a full carcase breakdown demonstration, and heard presentations on topics including best practice livestock preparation and handling procedures, moves towards value-based marketing from Cattle Council of Australia, the availability of new electronic NVD app from AgLive, and interpreting price grids and carcase feedback from AUS-MEAT and MSA.
A recurring message was that Australia, despite being one of the world’s largest beef exporters, produces just four percent of global beef supply.
Speakers reinforced the message that Australia has to trade on quality and safety of product, and better whole-of-chain collaboration is needed to produce high quality beef and increase Australia’s share of high-value beef markets.
The value of producing beef with the highest standards of eating quality was further underlined over lunch during which the attendees devoured slow-cooked dry-rubbed smoked brisket, expertly cooked by John Hughes of Mintrac, which provides training to meat industry workers.
Click on the thumbnail images below to view more pictures from the day