Beef needs quality, not standards to please customers
KYOGLE grazier Vince Ptolemy has concerns about the consistency of product in the beef marketing world.
The former fruit marketer was taught the value of consistency when he traded horticultural produce in Sydney during his younger years and he will never forget the lessons he learned.
As an example he can recall selling Joey brand citrus from the Burnett Valley.
"They were magnificent citrus, magnificently presented," he recalled.
"They were always consistent, and that was the key."
Yet, when a flood of inferior fruit landed on the market, even the prices of the top-shelf produce suffered a draw-down.
The beef market is not much different, in that when ungraded and poorly described product is dumped on the market - in the current case a mass of old cow meat sold - the inferior product will always take the edge off the price expected for the better produce.
In the fruit game, inferior product is often juiced or frozen. And the same should happen in the beef trade - inferior meat has no place being sold alongside prime yearling or grain-fed product. It should be minced.
"This is a problem now, particularly when that inferior product is not described accurately," Vince said.
"The Aussie consumer is entitled to buy consistent product, accurately described, day in and day out.
"We have the world's best meat grading system, according to the MLA, so why not use it in its original format?" he asked.
"Since its inception MSA has been broken down to where today it is not the best system. It is trying to please everyone."
Mr Ptolemy said consistency was a fundamental marketing tool.
"Consumers want to buy the same product day in and day out," he said.
"There is terrific variation in beef quality and breed, but we have the grading system in place to describe that.
"And all consistent product has its appropriate market.
"It is so easy ... we have all the mechanics to do that but all we ever see is graded meat being described as 'MSA'.
"The next question is: Why aren't we doing it properly? Is there someone who stands to gain by selling inconsistent product on the domestic market?"
In the final wash-up, Vince highlighted the importance of the local butcher as the face of the beef industry to the consumer.
"The consumer deserves to know what he or she is buying," he said.