MAJOR red meat processor NH Foods has responded to the global beef market’s growing appetite for natural/grassfed product, launching the company’s first Queensland-based branded natural beef program.
First kills under the company’s new Nature’s Fresh natural beef program took place six or seven weeks ago, and the first consignments have been shipped to US customers.
While still in a trial phase, NH Foods will establish a broader export and domestic client base for the premium MSA-backed product over time.
Initial supply is expected to be mostly vendor-bred cattle, due to requirements for proof of lifetime freedom from grain and antibiotic, however some supply chains are expected to use LPA and declarations to deliver cattle where ownership has changed.
The cattle spec covers steers and heifers 0-6 teeth, from around 260kg carcase weight, no grain, no HGP or antibiotic. The program is not breed-specific, but will be subjected to normal MSA grading considerations over indicus content/hump height.
Only cattle bred in Queensland will be eligible for the Nature’s Fresh program, which will be produced jointly out of NH Foods’ Borthwicks export plant near Mackay, as well as the Oakey Beef Exports plant on the Darling Downs.
NH Foods already operates a similar grassfed/natural/no HGP brand program out of the company’s Wingham Beef Exports plant in the Manning Valley north of Sydney. Manning Valley Naturally has generated a host of branded beef competition wins across eastern Australia since its launch eight years ago, and claims to be the most ‘awarded’ natural beef brand in Australia.
Eligibility for the new Nature’s Fresh brand program will come via an internally-audited farm assurance scheme.
The brand will be only the second natural program in Australia to be process-verified by the US Department of Agriculture.
While NH Foods produces a suite of grainfed brands out of its Queensland supply chain operations, this will be the company’s first venture in the north in the Natural segment.
NH Foods sales manager for the Nature’s Fresh program, Anthony Naticchia, said the program was developed in response to the global demand for a sustainable grassfed product offering, highlighting the clean and green attributes of Australia which is well-recognised around the world.
Producers attending yesterday’s Mackay Show Carcase Competition awards got some early insight into the brand’s launch.