MSA eating quality index performance continues to rise

Beef Central, 09/11/2023

DESPITE deteriorating seasonal conditions in many areas, average eating quality in cattle graded under Meat Standards Australia continues to rise, with an average national MSA index score for the 2022-23 year of 57.52, data released today shows.

That’s an increase of 0.15 MSA index points from the previous year, and an impressive 0.48 points better than average results produced ten years ago.

Celebrating its twenty-fifth birthday this year, Meat Standards Australia this morning released its annual outcomes report for the 2022-23 year, providing a comprehensive snapshot of grading performance, uptake by industry and other metrics.

The average MSA Index for non-grainfed cattle in the year ended June 30 was 57.94 – a decrease of 0.26 from the previous year.

The decrease last financial year in the MSA Index for non-grainfed cattle can be attributed to a range of key factors influencing grading results, including an increase in females with higher ossification scores from some regions.

The average Index for grainfed cattle was 57.26 – an increase of 0.37 from the previous year. Grainfed cattle are routinely lower on average than grassfed in index scores, because of the widespread use of HGP.

Compliance rates ease

In other key report outcomes, pH (proxy for stress and dark cutting) and rib fat continued to be the biggest causes of non-compliance, accounting for 4.5pc and 1.25pc of all carcases failing to grade.

In 2022–23, overall compliance to MSA minimum requirements was 95.1pc nationally – slightly down from the record-breaking level of compliance of 95.5pc achieved in both 2020–21 and 2021–22. South Australia had the highest compliance to MSA minimum requirements at 97.2pc.

Reasons for non-compliance

Non-compliance was the highest in June 2023 at 6.1pc, up from the previous high of 5.4pc set in September 2021. Regionally, Queensland non compliance shot to more than 8pc by June this year, as a reflection of the deteriorating seasonal conditions and the nutritional impact on grassfed MSA cattle, particularly.

Compliance rates vary throughout the production regions of Australia according to seasonal conditions. To be compliant for MSA grading, carcases must have a minimum of 3mm rib fat, adequate fat coverage, a maximum pH of 5.70 and other requirements.

During the 2022–23 financial year, more than 3.39 million cattle were presented for MSA grading through 39 Australian beef processors, with more than 3.23 million meeting the MSA minimum grading requirements.

Percentage graded

MSA graded cattle continue to represent more than half of the national adult cattle slaughter, at 54pc.

The proportion of non-grainfed cattle grew in 2022–23, representing 41pc of MSA graded cattle – an increase of 3pc from 2021–22. Grainfed cattle represented 59pc of graded cattle.

The proportion of non-grainfed and grainfed cattle has shifted over the past ten years, with both averaging 50pc over that timeframe.

The increase in the proportion of non-grainfed cattle in 2022–23 reflected broader national slaughter trends. Following years of post-drought herd rebuilding and the retention of breeding cattle, non-grainfed beef producers turned off higher numbers of finished cattle in 2022–23.

By volume, Queensland processed the greatest number of MSA graded cattle with 1.7 million head, followed by NSW (1.353m) Victoria (1.254m) and WA (396,000).

The program delivered a record $259 million in estimated additional farm gate returns to MSA beef producers in 2022–23.

This is a significant increase from the previous estimated high of $204 million delivered in 2021–22 and is a direct result of the year-on-year growth of the program and value captured and shared along the supply chain.

Other milestones

Other MSA operations aspects included in the report:

An additional 2882 cattle and/or sheep producers became MSA registered in 2022–23, taking the total number of MSA producers to 49,688.

Survey results for 2022–23 showed 78pc of butchers rated their satisfaction with MSA-graded meat as ‘very good to excellent’, up from 73pc in 2021–22.

There are now 211 MSA-licensed beef and lamb brands in the market, including 194 for beef.

Beef brand owners continue to take an increasingly sophisticated approach to using the MSA program to underpin their brands and deliver value throughout the supply chain. The program gives them the confidence to differentiate their brands not only in the domestic market, but also on the international stage.

In the area of MSA brand integrity, 321 audits were conducted on MLA licencees throughout 2022–23, ranging from saleyards and processors through to retailers, wholesalers, independent boning rooms, supermarkets and foodservice outlets.

MSA also conducted 96 integrity checks with MSA-licensed processors to support their continued success in utilising the MSA Standards.

  • 3pc of end user outlets audited received corrective action requests (CARs)
  • no saleyards audited received CARs
  • 4pc of processors received CARs
  • no independent boning rooms (IBRs) received CARs.





Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -