Latest data provided by Meat Standards Australia program manager Michael Crowley at last Thursday’s Primex Pacific Beef Carcase Competition mid-term field day highlighted the strong continued growth of the eating-quality-assurance program throughout Australia’s beef industry.
Twelve years after its launch, the MSA program now involves 19,000 registered producers, 42 licensed processing plants and 1600 licensed end users.
After achieving a record 1.42m graded animals in 2010-11, latest figures suggest the program is on track to surpass 1.8m head this financial year.
Mr Crowley said that after reaching a critical mass through push-through marketing efforts at supply chain level, MLA was now looking to drive further growth through a series of pull-through marketing campaigns at consumer level.
These included the recent revamp of the MSA logo, which reinforces MSA as a mark of eating quality for Australian beef, and promotional activities such as new domestic market television advertising campaign and point of sale material.
Numbers this year have been boosted significantly by Woolworth's take up of MSA.
Woolworths national livestock manager Brett Thompson told the field day that the supermarket chain could not be happier with the impact that its adoption of MSA has had on meat sales.
“We’re sitting at high single digit increases on all of our MSA lines,” Mr Thompson said. “To say it has exceeded expectations would be an understatement.”
Woolworths has six distribution centres around Australia supplying meat to 900 stores across the country.
The chain is now supplying meat from up to 12,000 MSA-graded carcases to that network every week.
Mr Thompson said it had been interesting to note the strong role that social media had played in helping to generate consumer awareness about Woolworth’s adoption of MSA.
“The messages we’re seeing through our marketing is that that is where it is all going, people are communicating (via Twitter and Facebook),” he said.
“With a lot of the good cooking shows that are on TV, Masterchef for example, people are looking for that higher end, that guarantee when they buy a piece of meat that they can cook a good meal for their friends and families.
“That is where the social media we are seeing is really promoting the MSA message and hence driving more people to our door.”