MSA delivers $185m boost to livestock sector

09 March 2016

The world-leading Meat Standards Australia (MSA) eating quality program delivered an additional $185 million in farm gate revenue during 2015 thanks to the price premiums paid for MSA accredited and compliant cattle.
According to 2015 MSA program data released today by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) the number of producers registered and cattle graded are at new highs, driven largely by the continued support from processors and development of brands underpinning their products with the MSA eating quality system.
MSA Program Manager Michael Crowley said that even with the increases in cattle prices generally last year, the average price premiums for MSA cattle were maintained.
“Over the hook differentials for MSA young cattle fluctuated throughout the year, peaking at $0.47/kg mid-year, but on average MSA young cattle were $0.32/kg above non-MSA young cattle during 2015.
“On a per head basis, non-feedlot young cattle that could meet both MSA and processor specifications were able to achieve $88/head more on average than non-compliant cattle. This equates to over $116 million in additional farm gate returns to those producers throughout 2014-15.
“Similarly, the average over-the-hooks prices for MSA grain-fed cattle were $47/head higher than non-MSA equivalents – this equates to $69 million boost to the feedlot sector, which also represented 50 per cent of the MSA graded cattle in 2015.”
MSA was developed by the Australian red meat industry to improve the eating quality consistency of beef and sheepmeat. The system is based on over 700,000 consumer taste tests by over 100,000 consumers from nine countries and takes into account all factors that affect the eating quality of the 169 cuts and cooking combinations within a carcase.
According to the data released today, some 3.2 million cattle were graded for the MSA program during 2015 at 42 licensed processors nationally. This is equivalent to 36 per cent of all cattle processed – up from 34 per cent in 2014 and 32 per cent in 2013.

And even with the difficult and variable seasonal conditions in 2015, MSA producers have been able to maintain their compliance to MSA requirements, with results relatively consistent at 93 per cent nationally.
“Importantly, the MSA index for beef has now become embedded into the MSA program as a meaningful eating quality feedback measurement for producers. The industry as a whole, recorded improved results despite last year’s difficult conditions,” Mr Crowley said.
“The average MSA index in 2015 for all MSA cattle was 57.44 – this is an increase of 0.16 points over 2014 and reflects the ability to continue to improve Australia’s beef eating quality, with an ultimate goal of improving by 2 points by 2020.”
Mr Crowley said producer registrations in the MSA program also grew in 2015 – up 8 per cent year on year to 43,464, with 60 per cent of the new registrants being beef producers and 40 per cent sheep producers.

Top MSA beef producers set to be recognised

Some of our top MSA beef producers will soon be recognised for their hard work, dedication and quality produce at the inaugural MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards – to be held in each state in March and April.  The Awards will be accompanied by a ‘Future Eating Quality’ forum, open to all producers whether they’re currently involved in MSA or not.
The Awards and producer forums are free and open to everyone, but registration is essential:

  • Queensland – Wednesday, 30 March 2016, 2.00pm-8.00pm, Picnic Point Toowoomba, 164 Tourist Road, Toowoomba
  • New South Wales – Friday, 1 April 2016, 2.00pm-8.00pm, Dundullimal Homestead, 23L Obley Road, Dubbo
  • Victoria – Tuesday, 5 April 2016, 2.00pm-8.00pm, All Seasons Bendigo, 171-183 McIvor Road, Strathdale
  • Tasmania – Thursday 7 April 2016, 2.00pm-8.00pm, Tailrace Centre, 1 Waterfront Drive, Riverside Launceston
  • South Australia – Tuesday,12 April 2016, 11.00am-8.00pm, Adelaide Hills Convention Centre, 145A Mount Barker Road, Hahndorf (NB: this event will be held in conjunction with the SA Sheep Industry Blueprint launch
  • Western Australia – Thursday, 14 April 2016, 2.00pm-8.00pm, Lighthouse Beach Resort, Carey Street, Bunbury

To find out more information about the Awards and forums in each state, please visit

To find out more information about the MSA Program visit

Key statistics

  • 3.2 million cattle graded in 2015
  • There are 43,464 registered cattle and sheep producers – up 8 per cent
  • There are 42 MSA licensed cattle processing facilities and 20 sheep processing facilities Australia wide
  • Grain-fed cattle achieved 98 per cent compliance to MSA specifications while non-feedlot/grass-fed cattle achieved 88 per cent compliance to MSA specifications in 2015
  • Grain-fed cattle represented 50 per cent of MSA graded cattle in 2015
  • 48 per cent of all cattle processed in NSW were MSA graded
  • An additional $185 million was returned to farm gates in higher prices paid for MSA young cattle and grain-fed cattle
  • 56 per cent of MSA lambs or 3.2 million head formally identified to consumers as MSA product in 2015 – up from 35 per cent in 2013

For media enquiries contact: Josh McIntosh, Media Manager, p: 0404 055 490, e:

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