Story updated Wednesday, June 6.
A Fullblood Wagyu product bred and fed in Southeast Queensland and exhibited by a large Sydney wholesale/export business has triumphed in the nation’s largest branded beef contest held yesterday.
A striploin sample of Tajima Fullblood, a commercial domestic and export brand developed by Andrews Meat Industries was chosen as the best among a record 28 samples drawn from five Australian states competing in the 2012 Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show’s branded beef contest staged in Brisbane.
RQFWS chief judge Russell Smith said the standard of entries for the branded beef competition highlighted industry trends towards a more uniform, tender and flavoursome product.
“This consistency of product quality is what the red meat industry has been striving for over the past decade,” he said.
“The Tajima Fullblood Wagyu from Andrews Meats displayed a beautiful balance between the marbling fat and the background flavour of the meat. It’s a brilliant example of Wagyu for consumers who want to experience the best the breed has to offer.”
The Tajima Fullblood entry topped the Wagyu class for entries carrying marbling scores of 6 and higher, before going on to earn the coveted champion beef a of show award.
It was a marbling score 9 product, bred at Macquarie Downs near Leyburn in Queensland’s southeast, and fed at Macquarie’s specialised, fully-shedded feedlot, using a barley and wheat based moderate energy ration designed to deliver optimum marbling expression.
See separate story this morning on the Andrews Meat Industries operation, and the development behind its Tajima/Shiro Kin Fullblood brand programs, “Fullblood extension provides first-time winner for Andrews Meats.”
The award-winning Tajima Fullblood Wagyu will feature on the menu of Brisbane’s renowned Cha Cha Char steakhouse restaurant.
This year’s Brisbane competition highlighted the point that branded beef judging results are rarely distinguished these days by differences in tenderness, given that all entries easily exceeded acceptable tenderness criteria among judges. Instead, flavour characteristics and depth has become the new point-of-difference on which judges base most of their assessment in Australia’s biggest and most influential branded beef competition.
Industry science, led by the Meat Standards Australia program, has now largely solved the tenderness irregularity in quality beef circles that existed in past eras. As a result, flavour, followed by juiciness, mouth-feel and overall liking, has now become the major preoccupation among judges, according to one of the eight people involved, Brisbane restaurateur, David Pugh.
The return to three consecutive boom grass-growing seasons across much of eastern Australia has also ironed-out most of the kinks in disrupted growth pathways, evidenced by the fact that most of the MSA-supported entries in this year’s competition came from MSA boning groups 1-4.
There was a dramatic improvement evident in the physical characteristics and eating quality in the grassfed MSA classes, this year, when compared with results seen in this same category three years ago, when tough seasonal conditions meant grassfed entries struggled for consistency. Several judges saw the full-flavoured grassfed class as the stand-out division in 2012.
Grainfed MSA entries were remarkably consistent, making distinctions between one and another particularly difficult. Flavour played a key part. Some carried salty notes; some metallic; some mushroomy or earthy; some reminiscent of popcorn, judges said.
The two Wagyu class – the blockbusters of the beef product spectrum – lived up to expectations with some truly remarkable samples on display from some of the nation’s biggest industry stakeholders. Assessing sample entries in the uncooked, portion form, it was apparent that most Wagyu entries were probably F1 or F2 in origin, given the coarseness of marbling present.
This year’s Brisbane competition threw up a few surprises in results, as well as some predictable outcomes.
The champion exhibit among non-Wagyu entries was a first-time entrant, Highland Park beef, a grassfed product exhibited by the Aldi Supermarket group and produced out of Minchinbury in NSW.
Among the other class winners:
The Australian Agricultural Co won the Wagyu class open to marbling scores 1-5, with a sample of Darling Downs Wagyu, an F1-F3 Wagyu x Angus program bred on the Barkly Tableland and fed for 350 days at the company’s Aronui feedlot. Much of the fullset turnoff in the marbling score 4-5 range is directed into the US or a number of different programs in North Asia with customers like the OK Meats business into E-mart supermarkets in Korea. A separate score 6-9 program runs in parallel.
AA Co also scored a second in the Wagyu MS6+ class with its Master Kobe fullblood program, bred at Wylarah near Surat in southwest Queensland. The particular sample submitted for judging was fed for 635 days at Aronui, among the longest feeding programs applied in Australia. Master Kobe does not have a set formula for days on feed, varying from 500 to 600 days, depending on type and body condition. Genetics are a combination of Tajima, Tajiri, Shimane and Kedaka sub-types drawn from AA Co’s elite Westholme herd, producing about 150 slaughter cattle a month.
Topping the Open/Organic class was sample of JBS Australia’s Royal brand, a 70-day grainfed GFYG cipher product produced out of the company’s Dinmore factory. Royal is one of the company’s longest-running brands, dating back to the early days of AMH, from around 1990, and still filling an important role today. The product does not come from company-owned feedlots, but is supplied by independent feedlot suppliers on the Darling Downs. It goes mostly into domestic food service and higher-end retail applications, across the east coast. Royal is dispersed through a couple of wholesale channels, including DR Johnston. Portion size is a little larger than some domestic brands, typically taken from 280-300kg carcases.
Continuing a long sequence of win in the Brisbane branded beef awards was Stockyard Meats from Brisbane, who claimed their fourth grainfed MSA class win in five years with a sample of Stockyard Gold brand. Stockyard Gold is a certified Angus program fed for +200 days. The success of the Stockyard Gold program stands as a testament to retiring Kerwee feedlot general manager Jim Cudmore. The product is predominantly directed into Japan as fullsets, with loin cuts going into higher-end food service.
The company’s Stockyard Black entry, a previous winner in the overall awards, this year picked up a third place in the highly competitive Wagyu marbling score 6-and-up category. Stockyard Black is an F1 program fed for a minimum 400-days. The turnoff is sold across the world, with the exception of Europe, however processing at the EU-accredited John Dee plant at Warwick may present some future opportunity to penetrate the high-value EU market.
One of the refinements seen this year over the 2011 Brisbane competition was a much more consistent application of a larder trim, making the raw product samples more consistent in presentation for judging. Retail trim presentation should become the standard for such competitions, not a meatworks boning room trim, in Beef Central’s opinion, but it has taken some years for the RNA to respond appropriately to earlier advice on this matter.
All in all, a super-impressive lineup of some of Australia’s best known and most highly regarded beef brands that would stand up against the best beef produced anywhere in the world.
2012 RQFWS Branded Beef Winners
Champion Branded Beef of Show: Tajima Fullblood Wagyu exhibited by Andrews Meat Industries from Lidcome in NSW
Champion MSA Graded (Non Wagyu) Branded Beef of Show: Highland Park Grassfed Beef exhibited by Aldi Stores from Minchinbury, NSW
Grainfed MSA-graded class:
- Gold: Stockyard Gold exhibited by Stockyard Meats, Brisbane
- Silver: Drover's Pride exhibited by Australian Country Choice, Morningside, Qld
- Bronze: Kimberley Red exhibited by Signature Beef, Clermont, Queensland
Grassfed MSA-graded class
- Gold: Highland Park Grassfed Beef exhibited by Aldi Stores, Minchinbury, NSW
- Silver: Manning Valley exhibited by Wingham Beef Exports, Wingham, NSW
- Bronze: Cape Grim Tasmanian Natural Beef exhibited by Greenham Tasmania.
Wagyu Class (Marbling scores 1 to 5):
- Gold: Darling Downs Wagyu exhibited by the Australian Agricultural Co, Brisbane
Wagyu Class (Marbling scores 6+):
- Gold: Tajima Fullblood Wagyu exhibited by Andrews Meats, Lidcome NSW
- Silver: Master Kobe exhibited by the Australian Agricultural Co, Brisbane
- Bronze: Stockyard Black exhibited by Stockyard Meats, Brisbane
Open Class (Non-MSA and Organic):
- Gold: Royal Beef exhibited by JBS Australia, Dinmore, Qld
- Silver: Spring Grove, exhibited by Atron Enterprises, Wahroonga, NSW.