JBS Australia’s Beef City Black beef brand was named Best Branded Beef product at the 2016 Australian Food Awards, conducted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria in Melbourne late last week.
The overall Best Branded Beef award was announced after Beef City Black was named Best in Class and awarded a gold medal in the first round of judging of the competition in July (see earlier Beef Central report), scoring a near-perfect 95 out of a possible 100 points.
While Beef City Black has picked grainfed division awards at prominent branded beef competitions previously, this is the brand’s first grand champion exhibit result.
In an unusual move, all beef exhibits competed in a single class at this year’s awards, meaning Beef City Black out-performed not only the other grainfed entries, but also Wagyu and MSA-backed grassfed brands.
Exhibits were judged by a panel of experts against the standard taste panel criteria including tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall liking, plus a visual raw component.
JBS Australia’s commercial manager – northern, Brendan Tatt, said the award was recognition of the quality of livestock procured for the company’s Beef City facility near Toowoomba in Southern Queensland, and stood as a testament to the efforts of the feedlot and processing staff.
This year represents the fortieth year of operation at JBS’s Beef City feedlot (see profile in Beef Central’s earlier Top 25 Lotfeeders feature).
The facility is one of only two in Australia where a feedyard and processing facility are integrated. The Beef City plant has a processing capacity of about 1000 head per day, specialising in producing only high quality grainfed beef. Output totals about 250 tonnes of boneless beef each day, representing the equivalent of 1.2 million meal portions.
The majority of the Beef City production is packed under the Beef City Black brand, with the remainder under other well-known brands including Pure Prime, AMH and Your Choice. The facility also produces some exclusive brands for large-scale importers in Japan.
Cattle being fed for the Beef City Black program typically average 110-115 days on feed, producing carcase weights 360-380kg. The pack requires a minimum marbling score of 1+. The brand is one of JBS’s ‘foundation’ brands, having been designed and implemented by the late Darrel France around ten years ago.
About 90pc of the Beef City production, ranging from 2500 to 3500 head per week, is exported. Key markets for the Beef City Black brand include Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
“The domestic market is also very important to Beef City Black, with many of the rump and loin steak cuts sold under brand in high-end restaurants, steakhouses and retail butcher shops all over Australia,” Mr Tatt said.
Unlike some other beef brands competing in the competition with production runs of 100 head or less each day, Beef City Black represents one of Australia’s largest grainfed export programs, with the company’s Mungindi and Caroona feedlot also channelling grain-finished cattle into the program, as well as Beef City.
“It just goes to show that the large volume players can also produce an ‘artisan’ product that can be relied upon for not only availability, but the highest standard of eating quality,” Mr Tatt said.
Asked about continuity of supply during the current difficult period for livestock supply, Mr Tatt said the Beef City Black program had declined a little, but nothing like the big reductions being seen in the broader slaughter market.
“We’ve been able to maintain those numbers reasonably consistently, through program supply chain relationships,” he said.