Making the Grade: Welcome from Sarah Strachan – MSA Program Manager

05 November 2018

Welcome to the first edition of Making the Grade, the e-newsletter that keeps you informed about the world’s leading eating quality grading program for beef and sheepmeat.

In this edition we recognise Meat Standards Australia’s 20th anniversary, hear how the Eating Quality Graded (EQG) cipher will benefit the beef industry, and learn about a new research project that could potentially open up unprecedented MSA pathways to slaughter for northern beef producers.

Recognising 20 years of MSA

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the MSA program. In that time 43,000 MSA registered producers have supplied 26.5 million cattle for MSA grading and 27,000 MSA registered sheep producers have supplied 37.2 million sheep processed via the MSA pathways.

The program has also conducted consumer sensory testing with more than 114,000 consumers on 800,000 samples of meat in 11 countries.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank past and present MSA staff, dedicated researchers and industry supporters of the program.

2017–18 Program Manager’s report

The MSA program has had another successful year delivering commercial outcomes along the supply chain.

As reported in the 2017–18 Annual Outcomes Report, MSA now represents 43% of the national adult cattle slaughter and 26% of the national lamb slaughter. It’s estimated the program delivered $152 million in additional farm gate returns to beef producers.

MSA is a quality mark and independent endorsement used by industry to underpin the eating quality of Australian beef and lamb brands. In 2017–18, 16 new brands became MSA licensed, showing their commitment to underpinning their product with MSA science and protocols.

There are now 172 MSA licensed brands. Twelve brands are now actively communicating MSA in international markets with their sublicensed supply chains.

MSA beef producers continue to embrace carcase feedback with a 32% increase in the number of producers accessing reports and benchmarking tools via myMSA in 2017–18. Their embrace of carcase feedback is reflected in outstanding compliance to MSA minimum requirements at 94.3% across all feed types, nationally.

And the average MSA Index for compliant carcases was 57.78.

Almost 3,000 producers received MSA education through more than 81 workshops or information sessions over the past 12 months, including the national MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards series.

More than 500 producers attended six forums across Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, SA and WA, which aimed to raise awareness of MSA best management practice by recognising those producers in each state who consistently deliver superior eating quality beef for the benefit of consumers and the profitability of the industry.

In May, MLA attended Beef Australia 2018 in Rockhampton where the MSA team met with producers to discuss advancements in objective carcase measurement technologies, provide assistance with carcase feedback, run workshops in conjunction with processors, and delivered five eating quality demonstrations in the inaugural Butcher’s Kitchen.

Research and development remains a focus for the MSA program to meet the 2020 goal of accurately describing fitness for purpose for all cuts from all cattle types.

In 2017–18, this included a project focusing on testing new cuts and cooking methods, involving more than 900 consumers in sensory testing for 67 muscles.

State breakdown (MSA proportion of state slaughter):

  • NSW represented 62% of MSA cattle and 17% of MSA sheep
  • Queensland represented 39% of MSA cattle
  • SA represented 56% of MSA cattle and 55% of MSA sheep
  • Tasmania represented 58% of MSA cattle and 14% of MSA sheep
  • Victoria represented 20% of MSA cattle and 26% of MSA sheep
  • WA represented 56% of MSA cattle and 33% of sheep.

More information:

Sarah Strachan
MSA Program Manager

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