MSA on the menu in the US hotel sector

25 September 2017

Australian consumers are very familiar with grassfed beef, along with grainfed product, simply because many have grown up eating both due to the abundance in Australia. However, grassfed beef is a relatively new trend in the US market, but one that is growing at a rapid pace. In fact, grassfed beef sales in the US have been doubling every year at retail for the past four years – even as the overall beef category has slowed.

Chefs from a wide array of venues, from college campuses to restaurants and hotels, are also actively sourcing the product to put on their menus. Many chefs are drawn to grassfed as a way to offer the ‘full spectrum’ of beef options, from Wagyu to corn-fed, to their demanding guests. At hotels alone – a segment with $44.2 billion in annual sales – research shows 54% are currently featuring grassfed beef on their menus.

However, these chefs are discovering that when it comes to sourcing grassfed beef, domestic options are somewhat limited and are also not graded by USDA. This creates a real problem for those in the foodservice sector, where consistency of product is paramount.

This challenge provides MLA and the Australian beef industry with an excellent opportunity to talk about Meat Standards Australia (MSA), in conjunction with Australian suppliers.

MSA was developed by the Australian red meat industry to improve the eating quality consistency of beef and sheepmeat. The system is based on almost 700,000 taste tests by over 100,000 consumers from nine countries and takes into account all factors that affect eating quality from paddock-to-plate.

MLA’s North American Business Development Manager, Catherine Golding, recently presented at a conference for hotel chefs called the Mise Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The 20-minute presentation covered the details of the MSA program, as well as the availability of MSA-graded product in the US.

For most US chefs, this was their first exposure to a grading system other than USDA, and MLA received many positive responses from the attendees – undoubtedly helped by the principle of “tasting is believing.”

Throughout the conference, around 90 attendees from hotels and resorts across the country – with a combined food and beverage annual expenditure in the vicinity of $590 million – sampled MSA beef and lamb from a leading supplier of grassfed beef to the US market.

More information
Catherine Golding
MLA North America Business Development Manager

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