Meat & Livestock News

Meat Standards Australia Marks 25 Years with Record Returns to Beef Industry

Generative AI, a worker with meat at a food plant

Meat Standards Australia (MSA), the quality grading program for Australian beef, has achieved a significant milestone in its 25th year.

Established by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) in 1998, MSA has delivered an estimated $259 million in additional farm gate returns to MSA beef producers in 2022-23. This figure represents a substantial increase from the previous year’s high of $204 million.

MSA’s Growth and Impact

The MSA Annual Outcomes Report for 2022-2023 highlights the program’s year-on-year growth and its value along the supply chain.

According to MSA Program Manager, Dr. David Packer, the program’s success is evident across the red meat supply chain, benefiting both producers and consumers. The MSA system, based on over 1.7 million consumer taste tests from 13 countries, considers factors affecting eating quality from paddock to plate.

In the past year, more than 3.39 million cattle were presented for MSA grading through 39 Australian beef processors, accounting for 54% of all cattle slaughtered in Australia. Of these, 3.23 million cattle met the minimum MSA requirements, indicating a high compliance rate and producers’ commitment to enhancing MSA performance.

Advancements in Quality and Training

The average MSA Index, representing the eating quality of a carcass, increased to 57.52 in 2022-23 from 57.37 in 2021-22. This improvement reflects a decade-long trend of quality enhancement. Additionally, 2,882 new cattle and sheep producers registered with MSA in 2022-23, bringing the total to 49,688.

MSA’s adoption strategies include training workshops and information sessions, benefiting over 1,200 beef and sheepmeat producers. These initiatives are part of the MSA Strategic Plan 2020-25, focusing on business development activities with processors and brand owners to promote MSA internationally.

Industry Engagement and Satisfaction

Key supply chain stakeholders participated in MSA education and training, with over 700 industry service providers attending events. Independent butchers and wholesalers in Australia have shown increasing satisfaction with MSA-graded meat, with 78% rating their satisfaction as ‘very good to excellent’ in 2022-23, up from 73% in the previous year.

Sheepmeat Sector Developments

In the sheepmeat sector, over 2.31 million sheep followed MSA pathways through 14 MSA-licensed processing facilities.

This represents a 200,000 increase from 2021-22, with 71% of total lambs processed in Australia going through MSA-Licensed plants. MSA also conducted benchmarking activities with 10 sheepmeat supply chains, utilising technology to measure intramuscular fat and lean meat yield, providing eating quality scores for nine cuts.

Future Prospects and Industry Goals

The MSA sheepmeat cuts-based model, moving towards commercialisation, is set to add further value to the Australian red meat industry. This development aligns with the industry’s goal of doubling the value of Australian red meat sales by 2030.