DARLING Downs-based grainfed beef producer Stockyard has claimed an unprecedented fourth straight Brisbane Show branded beef competition grand championship crown in results announced today.
Twenty five of Australia’s best-known and respected commercial beef brands lined up for this year’s competition, judged last week under MSA-style consumer taste test conditions on a combination of tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall liking in cooked state. Visual raw appearance was also included.
In prefacing this year’s awards, RNA councillor Gary Noller said branded beef products were particularly important to the Australian industry, as consumers around the world had an increasing interest in food provenance, and it was this story behind the product that influenced what they buy.
“It also gives brands credibility and integrity, and ensures consistency of product for the purchaser. Brands are very important to the red meat industry,” he said.
For the fourth year in a row Stockyard’s Kiwami Fullblood Wagyu product claimed the competition’s grand championship title, and the brand’s eighth Brisbane title in total.
The winning sample, carrying a 9+ marbling score, came from an animal bred by Wagyu veteran Wally Rea, from the Overflow near Marlborough, and fed around 450 days at Stockyard’s Kerwee feedlot near Jondaryan on the Darling Downs.
Loin cuts from the Kiwami program go into a spectrum of traditional high-end food service markets in Asia, the Middle East, the US and most recently, the EU. Secondary cuts mostly go to Japan and Korea.
All of that has changed in the past three months, however.
Stockyard’s David Clark told this morning’s gathering that 2019-20 had been proven to be a challenging period for processors, producers and marketers of quality branded beef products.
“Certainly it is a different world in the meat trade, since COVID. If you had told me we would have lost all 17 of our food service markets around the world in one hit, I would have said you were crazy. But it did happen. However the reality is there is still a strong demand out there for our Kiwami product, and it’s been doing extremely well at the premium end of the retail market, and also online since March. Demand continues for our product worldwide, and we haven’t slowed our production at all.”
Food service was also slowly recovering, Mr Clark said, and the company was “back in that space where demand is exceeding supply again.”
“This award will be well-accepted by the team at Stockyard and the Kerwee feedlot, who have been focussing on continuing to do what we do best, which is quality and consistency. We look forward to putting this win in front of our customers around the world, reinforcing those values that we live and breathe every day,” he said.
Kiwami, meaning ‘outstanding excellence,’ in Japanese, was launched by Stockyard five or six years ago. It is a growing part of Kerwee’s overall grainfed beef production, since the feedlot’s expansion some years ago. In fact F3 to Fullblood Wagyu now represents about 75pc of Kerwee’s overall Wagyu operations.
Judges described the winning sample of beef as “showcasing extraordinary credentials – long-lasting well-retained juiciness, a luxurious molten texture on the palate, and visually it was outstanding.”
Angus Reserve a proven performer
A midfed Angus brand program which can trace its origins back to Australia’s earliest attempts at beef branding around 1988 earned this year’s MSA graded branded beef of show award. NH Foods Australia earned the award for its Angus Reserve product, produced out of the company’s Whyalla feedlot neat Texas, and processed at Oakey Beef Exports.
Angus Reserve has been a consistent performer at branded beef competitions across Australia over the past five or six years.
The product can trace its origins in 1988, when NH Foods (then operating at Nippon Meat Packers Australia) took the highly unusual step of launching a company mid-fed Australian Angus brand in Japan, under the name, Omugi-Gyu (Barley Beef).
While Omugi Gyu program continues to be exported to Japan, the similar Angus Reserve program launched six or seven years ago is targeted by NH Foods at a range of other export markets, as well as large domestic users in Australia like the Costco retail chain.
Today, about three quarters of NH Foods 60,000 head Whyalla feedlot near Texas is devoted to 150-day mid-fed Angus, producing heavyweight carcases averaging about 400kg.
Mid-fed programs are not particularly common in Australia, but additional days on feed, using the right cattle, create a significant point of difference from much more common 100-day Angus beef programs.
“The strength behind our brand is the consistency of the cattle,” Whyalla general manager Tony Fitzgerald said this morning.
The Angus Reserve program aims for a minimum marbling score of 2+, which is being produced with considerable consistency. The better end of performers produce marbling scores of 3-5.
Queensland grainfed supply chain manager Mort & Co claimed two medals, including a gold in the Wagyu marbling score 6 and less class with a sample of its Phoenix Master Selection purebred and Fullblood Wagyu program, and a bronze medal in the Wagyu marbling score 7 and up class with a sample from it’s the Phoenix (F1-F4 Wagyu) program.
The strong result backed up the company’s recent success at the Australian Wagyu Association Branded Beef Awards which saw Master Selection obtain three gold medals (one in each category) and The Phoenix receive two bronze.
- RQFWS award-winning beef and lamb products will be served from 7-16 August at a pop-up store in King Street at the Brisbane Showgrounds, as part of Ekka 2020 Online presented by RACQ to keep the spirit of the Royal Queensland Show alive.
RNA branded beef class winners:
- Gold: NH Foods Australia for its Angus Reserve
- Silver: Stockyard Pty Ltd for its Stockyard Gold
- Bronze: JBS Australia for its JBS Thousand Guineas Shorthorn
- Gold: Thomas Foods International for its Angus Pure Grass Fed
- Silver: Woodward Foods Australia for its Natural Beef
- Bronze: NH Foods Australia for its Manning Valley Naturally
Wagyu Marbling Score 6 or less
- Gold: Mort & Co for its Master Selection
- Silver: Lotte International Oceania for its L’grow Wagyu
- Bronze: Paradigm Foods Pty Ltd for its Icon XB Wagyu
Wagyu Marbling Score 7+
- Gold: Stockyard Pty Ltd for its Stockyard Kiwami
- Silver: Stockyard Pty Ltd for its Stockyard Black
- Bronze: Mort & Co for its The Phoenix
- Gold: JBS Australia for JBS Yardstick
- Silver: JBS Australia for JBS Tender Valley