Opinion: Our brand is our Industry

John McKillop, Red Meat Advisory Council, 29/04/2021

There should be no free ride for manufactured plant-based protein products trying to piggyback off a category built by red meat producers over generations, writes RMAC chair John McKillop.


IT’S time to level the playing field for red meat category branding.

Across the butcher shops, supermarket aisles and restaurant tables throughout the nation, there’s no better-branded product than Australian red meat.

Whether it’s nutrition, food safety, or product quality, Australian consumers know they’re getting the real deal every time they buy red meat.

Our industry’s collective category brand is unlike any other. As an industry, we’ve constructed our brand over generations of socialised levies and private investment.

More than 77,000 Australian red meat and livestock businesses and 434,000 workers spend every day building our industry’s brand.

We pay mandatory levies at every point along the supply chain which are spent on marketing, research and product integrity measures. In addition to socialised levies, private companies annually invest millions of dollars into branding our industry’s products.

Investment in Australia’s red meat category branding isn’t only made through marketing but through the heavy mandatory compliance costs our industry has to pay to sell products labelled as meat, lamb, beef, or goat.

It’s no wonder why there’s now a laundry list of manufactured plant-based protein products trying to piggyback off the reputation of Aussie red meat.

These products blatantly attempt to misappropriate our category branding for highly-manufactured plant-based proteins, which don’t support Australian livestock producers, processors or retailers.

Australia’s meat and livestock industry isn’t afraid of competition – we’ve held our own against the tofu warriors for decades.

What isn’t acceptable is dishonestly using our category branding for a product that doesn’t pay the levies, doesn’t pay the compliance costs and doesn’t have our centuries-old proud history.

Our industry deserves better. Denigrating a trademarked brand to sell another is not permitted and nor should the use of our industry’s collectively owned meat category brand.

John McKillop

Red Meat Advisory Council Chair

  • John McKillop will be speaking at the Beef Australia Leadership Forum from 10am to 11am next Tuesday, May 4, in the Paterson Room at Beef 2021 in Rockhampton.





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  1. Dr David Hopkins, 19/05/2021

    Please see from my editorial for the Journal Meat Science in 2020. In terms of issues it is worth making some comments about “Cultured Meat”. To date the journal has published 3 review papers on the topic and 3 re-search papers, with several currently under review. Certainly the technology to produce such “meat” is developing, but purists might challenge the combination of the words cultured and meat being linked together, since such products are unlikely to ever have the complete characteristics of meat taken from a slaughtered animal. This raises the question about whether the word “meat” should be associated with product artificially produced in a factory setting. Industry is responding to this new challenge, but with major investment there is likely to be continued debate about this product. Although proponents of the concept believe it will address ethical, environmental and public health concerns linked to the production of meat, this view can be seriously challenged see https://theconversation.com/beyond-meat-the-market-for-meat-substitutes-is-way-overdone-120579andhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174016301358#bb0175.Additionally consumer acceptance of such a product will not be universal and the evidence suggests when many consumers realise how “cultured meat” is produced they are less enthusiastic about the concept. The meat industry and associated science has a real issue to deal with on this topic in the Western world context and maybe it should be called “fake meat” instead!

  2. Michelle Finger, 30/04/2021

    While it is great to finally see some sign of will to tackle this issue (& here’s praying that these words transpire into action) …
    I am absolutely EXHAUSTED with the arrogance & denialism of our red meat ‘leaders’.
    The only thing that has partially covered up their ineptitude is Australia’s growing population. On a per person basis, red meat consumption has been on a steep decline for ~20 years while our industry leaders are busy congratulating themselves or snoozing at the wheel.
    Consumption of all meats per person has been on a slippery slope since 2018.
    Statements like “we’ve held our own against the tofu warriors for decades” are blatantly untrue & born of either arrogance or blind ignorance, both of which are unacceptable.
    Indeed only a small percentage of people may ever be fully-blown vegans, but bogus campaigns around heart disease, natural fats, animal rights & environmental misinformation are having a significant impact on consumer attitudes & consumption trends.
    Far from “holding our own”, in reality red meat has been loosing ground for ~20 years. It’s time we woke up.


    We would make the point that any worthwhile measure of consumer demand is the sum of two things, Michelle – volume and price. Benchmarking industry performance on volume alone does not capture the true state of the industry. On the other hand, domestic retail beef price has risen dramatically since around 2015. One easy way to improve the volume metric? Halve the price for retail beef – volume would increase dramatically, but does anybody in the industry really want to see that happen? Editor

    • Michelle Finger, 30/04/2021

      Dear Editor,
      The current high beef prices have nothing to do with our “beef brand” not being able to “hold our own against the tofu warriors”, & halving the price of beef would not help in this issue.
      The fake meat-replacer products are extremely expensive, yet they are steadily increasing their market share.

      The current beef prices are mostly explained by:
      “Our nation’s cattle numbers are the lowest they have been in 20 to 30 years due to the last drought. But good rains on the eastern seaboard have seen good pasture, therefore farmers are restocking their herds, pushing prices up.” 

      Strong adds the ongoing global demand for protein following the African swine flu outbreak in China, combined with COVID-19 disruptions to beef processing in the US, has put strong pressure on domestic beef prices.”


      • John Gunthorpe, 01/05/2021

        Fully support your comments Michelle. Australia is a price taker for its export beef and the world price for FMD free beef is set by the US domestic market. Australian beef consumption has fallen from 40kgs to 20kgs per head over last 20 years. Your analysis and comments are spot on. Consumption domestically fell for many years before the recent price surge and factors beyond our control led to the price surge. Forever will it be so.

  3. Val+Dyer, 29/04/2021

    Some questions for RMAC.

    •What IS the RMAC ‘our brand’ when it supports global meat processors which are investing in plant based ‘meat products’ ?

    •Is RMAC actively pursuing legislation that bans the term ‘meat’ by companies that advertise plant based products as ‘meat’?

    •Why is it that Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), Sheep Meats Council and other animal producer organisations are unable to withdraw from RMAC so that they can represent producers effectively?

    CCA should receive levy payer’s funds to effectively pursue the interests of cattle producers directly to government and not be constrained by the ‘RMAC’ view.

    Legislation can always be changed to reflect what is ‘right’

  4. Joyce Mc Connell, 29/04/2021

    Needs strict regulation rules ! Plant foods should not be allowed to piggy back of real meat products ..

  5. David Watt, 29/04/2021

    Plant-based protein products are not meat, the same way soy/nut-based liquids ae not milk, and margarine is not butter.

    How are we letting them get away with this?

  6. Jim Cudmore, 29/04/2021

    Yes John – and we should not be afraid of genuine competition.
    But the competition should call it what “it” is!
    And then back “it” with sustainability credentials to compare with red meat?

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