Meat QualityTuesday, Jan 30, 2001
The following news brief draws attention to the problems of establishing quality standards for the production
of high value meat in the mind of the consumer. Most farmers are well aware of the health
quality issues, which must be met by producers..
Even the most indifferent producer is aware that if his stock at slaughter do not meet these health
standards it will cost dearly however it seems that very few farmers are aware of what steps should
be taken to improve the taste and tenderness of his animals across his total line.
All New Zealanders will be aware of the wide pricing differentials paid for meat sourced from different
countries when observing supermarket sales as they have travelled world. Colour, fat cover and
marbling of steak can appear similar but price can range from $NZ20 to $NZ60 per kg and NZ's price
is invariably the lower end of that range
Meat processors have a major role to play in putting this problem right. For without a pricing differential
for the significant qualities of taste and texture sought by consumers, no producer will be
motivated to improve the marketability of his product unless the market return shows in farm gate
The NZ meat processors have had a long history of rewarding the mediocre with a meat-pricing schedule
that is totally volume driven rather than quality lead.
Perceptions of quality for taste and texture have been dismissed as subjective. But it is only out of
that subjectivity that the definition of quality relative to a brand can be established.
Breeds have attempted this function vacated by the processors and exporters but this avenue has relied
on the breed's characteristics matching the consumer's perception of quality. But because of geographic
and environmental differences is still likely to produce too wide a range of quality characteristics
for the consumer looking for consistency from a brand.
Development of quality standards that identify and match todays discerning consumer's perception of
quality across a range of markets is urgently required. It seems that this change is beyond the capacity
of the current processors to manage and once again it reverts to the producer to initiate and
manage a change.
Our competitors have commenced the task as is exampled by the Australian Supergene Evaluation Scheme.
What is our leadership planning?