First-time NSW exhibitor Andrews Meat Industries had a dream start to competition in Australia’s most prestigious branded beef contest yesterday when its ‘flagship’ Tajima Fullblood Wagyu brand program scooped the pool to earn champion beef of show honours.
But the result was far from an ‘overnight success’ and represents the culmination of a lengthy and carefully-planned brand development for the Sydney-based wholesale and export company.
Andrews Meat Industries is one of the nation’s largest independent wholesalers with a particular focus on the upper-end of the food service restaurant and hotel sector. While Sydney is the main target, it also penetrates the Melbourne and Southeast Queensland markets to a lesser degree. An export division was added five years ago.
Over the past decade Andrews Meat has put together a series of brand programs for different red and white meat branded products in a through-chain ‘paddock to plate’ approach.
Export manager Jeremy Stuart said the company had developed its Tajima Crossbred program for some years, more recently adding a Tajima Fullblood extension to that.
To make the distinction between ‘Crossbred’ and ‘Fullblood’ Wagyu beef programs absolutely clear to customers, a decision has recently been made to abandon the original “Tajima Fullblood” brand name and replace it with a new identity. From July 1, as can be seen in the brand image published below, the product will be known as “Shiro Kin Fullblood” Wagyu beef, meaning ‘White Gold.’
Potential confusion between product from crossbred and fullblood Wagyu animals is a topic of considerable debate within the Australian Wagyu industry, and it is to Andrews Meats credit that it has taken the step of re-branding its premium Fullblood product to make a clearer distinction between the two.
While most of Andrews’ Wagyu turnoff, both crossbred and Fullblood, goes into export markets the business is gaining a strong reputation around the Sydney food service market for its quality and consistency. Forequarter and more than 50 pc of the butt cuts are mostly exported, with some loin items sold domestically.
Domestic customers include some high-end restaurants like Icebergs and Guillime at Bennelong.
“This win will really help us with promotion of our emerging Fullblood product,” Mr Stuart said after yesterday’s results were announced.
“It’s the first time we’ve entered the competition, and the sole reason was to try to generate some marketing and awareness leverage for our Fullblood Wagyu program.”
Currently the emerging Fullblood business processes about 30 carcases a month through the Northern Cooperative Meat Co plant at Casino, on top of 350/month for the crossbred program. By the end of the year, the intention is to deliver another 100/month on top of that, requiring close to 6000 head/year across both programs.
The Fullblood program is fed exclusively at the Macquarie Downs feedlot near Leyburn on southeast Queensland’s Darling Downs. A minimum 500 days on feed is applied, using a white grains based ration, producing carcase weights of 400-450kg. Crossbreds are fed at Macquarie, ICM Peechelba in Victoria and Elders Killara.
Most of the Fullblood feeder cattle are also bred at Macquarie Downs, but will be supplemented with feeders from other breeders as the program grows. The Fullblood breeding program employs Shimane and Kedaka line Fullblood Wagyu females mated to high-marbling performance but smaller-framed Tajima line bulls. Both natural mating and AI are used.
Andrews Meat Industries was founded by butcher, Peter Andrews Sr, 50 years ago, starting from a single small butcher shop. The company is still family-owned, with customers involved in all areas of hospitality ranging from hotels, clubs and restaurants to healthcare, airline, corporate and Industrial contract caterers, as well as retail.
Andrews’ marketing strategy over the past 15 years has focused on diversity of product, developing niche farming programs and brand ownership. This has been achieved by establishing long-term relationships with specialised producers and effective product placement with clients.
Owning the brand and distribution process not only offers its clients high quality products with a point of difference, but also underpins a more consistent supply chain from farm-gate to end-user. Other beef brands operating under similar supply relationships include Grainge grainfed Angus, and White River veal.
Part of the brand story includes attributes like no GMO feedstuffs, Halal accreditation and HGP-free.