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Meat Standards Australia quality grading program delivers record $259m in farm gate returns

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Adam PoulsenCountryman
Meat Standards Australia is a globally recognised quality grading program established by industry research and development body Meat and Livestock Australia.
Camera IconMeat Standards Australia is a globally recognised quality grading program established by industry research and development body Meat and Livestock Australia. Credit: Australian Butchers' Guild

Meat Standards Australia delivered a whopping $259 million in farm gate returns to the nation’s beef producers last financial year, smashing the record set the previous year by $55m.

MSA — a globally recognised quality grading program established by Meat and Livestock Australia in 1998 — revealed the record in its 2022-23 annual outcomes report, released on November 9.

MSA program manager David Packer said it was a direct result of the year-on-year growth of the program and the value captured and shared along the supply chain.

“The MSA system is based on over 1.7 million consumer taste tests by over 250,000 consumers from 13 countries, and considers the factors that affect eating quality from the paddock-to-plate,” he said.

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Meat Standards Australia program manager David Packer. 
Camera IconMeat Standards Australia program manager David Packer.  Credit: Meat Standards Australia

“In the past year, more than 3.39 million cattle were presented for MSA grading through 39 Australian beef processors.”

This equated to 53 per cent of all cattle slaughtered in Australia, with some 3.23 million head meeting minimum MSA requirements.

Dr Packer said the “excellent” compliance rate was underpinned by producers continuing to build on their MSA performance.

“In 2022–23, the average MSA Index that represents the eating quality of a carcase, for MSA compliant carcases, was 57.52, an increase of 0.15 from the national average MSA Index of 57.37 in 2021–22, and an increase of 0.48 from 10 years ago,” he said.

“In this milestone year of 25 years of MSA, the program’s value and benefits are reflected throughout the red meat supply chain from producers through to consumers.”

Another 2882 livestock producers became MSA-registered last financial year, taking the total to 49,688, after MSA delivered a range of training workshops that helped producers nationwide make the necessary on-farm changes to improve outcomes.

Dr Packer said there was an increased focus on supporting business development activities with processors and brand owners to expand international awareness of MSA.

“This will increase confidence of brand owners to differentiate their product based on a world-leading eating quality program,” he added.

Survey results for 2022–23 showed 78 per cent of Australian independent butchers rated their satisfaction with MSA-graded meat as “very good to excellent”, up from 73 per cent the previous financial year.

More than 2.3 million sheep followed MSA pathways through 14 MSA-licensed processing facilities in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and WA – a 200,000 head year-on-year increase.

Seventy one per cent of lambs processed nationwide went through MSA-licensed processing plants.

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