Queensland grainfed beef supply chain Stockyard has claimed an incredible sixth straight Brisbane Show branded beef competition grand championship following the announcement of 2022 results this morning – a record that will surely never be challenged.
Stockyard has now won every RNA branded beef grand championship title since 2017, against some of the largest and most successful brand programs in the country.
Branded beef competition entries were up a little this year as the industry continues its recovery after drought, with 42 entries across five grainfed, grassfed and Wagyu classes, drawn from most Australian states.
The 2022 grand champion was drawn from the marbling score 7+ Wagyu class, representing Stockyard’s Stockyard Black premium Wagyu program.
The winning entry came from a Fullblood calf was bred by Central Queensland cattleman Darren Hamblin, near Middlemount. He was fed 400-days plus on a Japanese style ration including white grains.
The feeding period reflected a trend towards shorter feeding of longfed Wagyu over the past 12 months – at least in part influenced by feedgrain prices approaching $500/t (see this week’s separate story).
“Grain prices like that only heightens the need to seek-out these high-performing cattle, if they are being fed a little shorter,” Stockyard’s general manager for marketing, David Clark said.
Despite the shorter days on feed, this year’s entry still managed to produce a marbling score of 9+ (see photo below).
“We are continuing to see really strong demand across the world for this elite high-performing Wagyu beef,” Mr Clark said.
“But at the same time talking to a big customer in the US this morning, while they still want Wagyu, they are also interested in a lower marbling score 4-5 type product. Some food service outlets in the US will be looking at what they want to put on a plate – still Wagyu, but at a certain budget. The US is a growing market for that type of product.”
Mr Clark made the point that for the first time this year (with the exception of Wagyu carcases assessed for several years by the MIJ camera), quite a number of the entries in this year’s branded beef competition were being graded using objective camera systems.
E+V cameras, MIJ cameras, Master Beef cameras were used to assess different entries this year.
“We are also using the new MEQ probe under trial at John Dee. We see great benefit in being able to grade carcases hot, before they go into the chiller. They were also analysed using the MasterBeef cameras at the chilled stage,” Mr Clark said.
“It’s providing even greater consistency and repeatability – even if it is backed-up by the human eye of a qualified MSA-grader.”
He said grading performance through Stockyard’s Angus and Wagyu programs had been exceptionally strong recently, which he put down to feeder cattle being more forward coming into the yard, coupled with ongoing genetic improvement.
“We play a long game in Wagyu, and the time from conception through to grading in the chiller is a long cycle, in order to make informed decisions.”
He said this year’s entries represented the first wave of calves to come through which did not have some drought impact in their production history.
“That depends a little on where they have come from. For our programs we’re taking cattle out of a very big footprint of Australia, stretching from Central Queensland into southern NSW.”
Other class winners
In other competition divisions this year, JBS Australia (northern division) topped a highly competitive grainfed class, with a sample of its Thousand Guineas brand program fed at Beef City feedlot outside Toowoomba. Thousand Guineas is a Shorthorn-specific brand program with minimum marbling score of 2, fed for around 130 days.
Queensland dedicated grainfed processor Kilcoy Global Foods scored two significant class wins this year.
The first was in the Open class with an entry from the company’s Ebony Black Angus brand program, fed 120+ days, looking for marbling scores minimum 2+ and 4+.
Most of that is consigned into high-end Southeast Asian markets plus the Middle East and Japan. Around 800 head per week are directed into the Ebony Black program.
Kilcoy scored a second class win in the Wagyu marbling score 6 or less category, 350+ days on feed and channelled into high-end food service across Korea, Japan and the US.
This year’s grassfed beef class produced a win for Melbourne-based supply chain Australian Meat Group, with a sample of its Josdale yearling grassfed brand program. This entry also earned the champion MSA graded beef award this year.
See full list of placegetters below.
Head judge Elaine Millar said overall quality of entries this year was remarkable, featuring extreme diversity flavour, texture and juiciness.
“This provides a wonderful opportunity for retail, food service and ultimately the end diner to experience the diversity of taste sensations the seasons, regions and breeds bring to our plate,” she said.
“The exceptional beef entries reinforce Australia’s position as a leader in the international beef market.”
Tasmanian lamb dominates branded lamb awards
Meanwhile Tasmanian-sourced lamb proved tough to beat in this year’s RNA branded lamb awards.
Royal Wholesale Meats, based in Clontarf Brisbane, claiming the title of Australia’s best lamb with a sample for its Tasmanian Royal product.
“This year’s lamb entries were incredibly consistent in quality,” Ms Millar said.
“With such a high standard across the board, scoring was close. Once again Tasmanian-sourced lamb has excelled, with the region providing some of the world’s best pastures and conditions for producing lamb.”
Some of today’s award-winning products will be showcased at the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka), which is now just 78 days away.
Branded beef class results
Grain Fed Class
Gold: JBS Thousand Guineas MSA MB2+ by JBS Australia
Silver: Grandchester by Mort & Co.
Bronze: Southern Grain by Australian Meat Group Pty Ltd
Grass Fed Class
Gold: JOSDALE by Australian Meat Group Pty Ltd
Silver: Southern Ranges by Australian Meat Group Pty Ltd
Bronze: Manning Valley Naturally by NH Foods Australia
Wagyu Class Marbling Score 6 or less
Gold: Carrara 640 Wagyu by Kilcoy Global Foods
Silver: King River by King River
Bronze: Master Selection by Mort & Co.
Wagyu Class Marble Score 7+
Gold: Stockyard Black by Stockyard Beef Pty Ltd
Silver: Master Selection by Mort & Co
Bronze: 2GR Wagyu by Hancock Agriculture
Gold: Ebony Black Angus by Kilcoy Global Foods
Silver: Stockyard Gold by Stockyard Beef Pty Ltd
Bronze: ‘246’ by Midfield Meat International Pty Ltd
Other lamb trophy winners
Branded Lamb – 20kg or Less
Gold: ‘246’ by Midfield Meat International
Silver: Lamb of Tasmania by Tasmanian Lamb Company
Bronze: Tasmanian Royal by Royal Wholesale Meats
Branded Lamb – More than 20kg
Gold: Tasmanian Royal by Royal Wholesale Meats
Silver: Lamb of Tasmania by Tasmanian Lamb Company
Bronze: Union Station by Midfield Meat International Pty Ltd
Restaurant Trade Branded Lamb – More than 24kg
Gold: Lamb of Tasmania by Tasmanian Lamb Company
Silver: Tasmanian Royal by Royal Wholesale Meats
Bronze: Mottainai Lamb by Wagyu Lamb Pty Ltd