MSA set for continued growth in new five-year plan

Under its new five-year plan the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) eating quality program is aiming to ensure all cattle in Australia will be eligible for MSA grading to enable their eating quality to be accurately described.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has led the development of the MSA program, which has grown to the point that 3.1 million head of cattle were graded in 2015/16, or 38 per cent of the national adult cattle slaughter.

MLA has now set its sights on MSA grading over 50 per cent of all cattle slaughtered by 2020.

MSA Program Manager Michael Crowley said this would be achieved through a range of strategies outlined in the new five-year plan.

Mr Crowley said growth would be driven by supporting beef brands in underpinning their products with an MSA endorsement of eating quality.

“Investment in research that improves accuracy of the MSA model and covers all pathways, cattle types and production methods will be key to achieving these ambitious goals,” he said.

“And by empowering brand owners to drive the success of MSA globally, we are confident we can continue to drive benefits from paddock to plate.”

Over the last five years the MSA eating quality program has expanded to continuously increase as a proportion of cattle slaughtered in Australia, with 1.34 million head of cattle graded in 2010/11 rising to 3.1 million in 2015/16 in line with commercial incentives, as shown by an increase in young cattle premiums which have risen from $0.15c/kg to 0.24c/kg, and retail premiums across key primals of $1.73/kg in 2015/16.

In 2015/16 there were 45,217 MSA registered producers supplying 54 MSA licensed processors, 140 MSA licensed brands, and 3,743 MSA licensed wholesaler, foodservice and retail outlets.

MLA is aiming to increase supply through these supply chains with a goal of more than 60,000 MSA registered cattle producers by 2020.

“The demonstrated outcomes of the MSA program and return on investment to producers are proof that the program has been successful, but we want to grow further,” Mr Crowley said.

“This includes identifying on-farm practices and tools that help producers increase the eating quality of their cattle and improve compliance to both MSA and company specifications.

“As MSA moves from delivering domestic eating quality solutions to globally focussed outcomes, we will seek to enhance the characteristics of the trusted MSA quality mark, which is the authoritative symbol that underpins the eating quality of beef and sheepmeat brands.

“And it goes without saying that the MSA program will remain underpinned by world leading science.”

The plan features ongoing investment in research, as well as a focus on continued improvement of MSA’s integrity systems, and more efficient, accurate and transparent grading through development and adoption of objective carcase measurement technologies.

The new five-year plan has been developed in close consultation with the Peak Industry Councils through the MSA beef and sheepmeat taskforces representing producers, processors, brand owners and end users.

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