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MSA program continues to deliver price premiums and high farm gate returns

06 August 2020

Australia’s globally-recognised eating quality grading program, Meat Standards Australia (MSA) delivered an estimated $172 million in additional farm gate returns to beef producers in 2019-20.

That’s according to the latest MSA Annual Outcomes data, which shows a record-breaking 3.8 million cattle were MSA graded in 2019-20, an 8% increase in the number of cattle compared to 2018-19, representing 46% of the national adult cattle slaughter.

In 2019-20, 4.3 million sheep followed MSA pathways, a 5% increase from 2018-19, with 64% of these going into MSA trademarked brands. It is estimated that 57% of the national lamb slaughter was processed through MSA licensed processors.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Group Manager - Adoption and Commercialisation, Sarah Strachan, said the program’s latest data demonstrated the value MSA continued to deliver to producers and Australia’s red meat industry.

“In 2019-20, the average price differential for young non-feedlot MSA cattle was 27 cents per kilogram hot standard carcase weight, compared to the same non-MSA graded cattle,” Ms Strachan said.

“Non-feedlot cattle represented 38% of MSA graded cattle, and feedlot cattle represented 62% of MSA graded cattle. The increase in proportion of feedlot cattle is reflective of the drought conditions in recent years and the subsequent high levels of cattle on feed.”

Ms Strachan said the commitment of producers to adopting on-farm practices to achieve outstanding eating quality in their livestock saw the national average compliance to MSA minimum requirements for beef lift to 94.2%, up from 93.8% in 2018-19.

“This commitment is also reflected in the national MSA Index, which increased to a record 58.03, an increase of 0.55 Index points on the previous year,” Ms Strachan said.

“The MSA Index is a single number and standard national measure of the predicted eating quality of a carcase. It provides meaningful producer feedback to benchmark performance and reflects the
impact of on-farm impacts on eating quality.

“The benefits of the MSA program continue to attract producers, with 2,900 beef and sheepmeat producers becoming MSA registered in 2019-20.”

Ms Strachan said the Eating Quality Graded (EQG) cipher, released in 2017 to provide brand owners with an opportunity to market product according to consumer eating quality outcomes as an alternative to dentition-based ciphers, has continued to have strong adoption.

“As of June 2020, brand owners and processors that represent 50% of MSA graded beef have adopted the EQG cipher for both domestic and international markets,” Ms Strachan said.

“There are now 195 beef and sheepmeat brands licensed to use the MSA trademark.”

The full 2019-20 MSA Annual Outcomes report will be released later in August.