AS Australia’s beef industry moves more and more towards a consumer-driven, value-add focus, wading through the red tape of market access protocols and industry committees may be its biggest hurdle.
Cattle Council of Australia northern independent director David Hill, Clarke Creek, alluded to the need for a more collaborative and open minded environment at the industry representative level, lest innovation in the paddock and factory be stifled.
During a presentation at the Queensland Country Life Food Heroes field day in Central Queensland this week, he said it was a frustration that there were so many producers being so innovative but at the industry committee level, not so much innovation evident.
He cited the recent Australian Beef Language review as an example.
One of the outcomes of the review has been the alternate category Eating Quality Graded (EQG).
In Mr Hill’s opinion - and for that matter many producers and non packing exporters at the forefront of branded beef innovations - it should be Eating Quality Assured (EQA), because declaring a product ‘graded’ does not mean it has passed a grade.
However, the Australian beef industry took the EQA concept globally a decade ago and then it was removed in 2011, Mr Hill explained.
The argument has been that it is not ‘marketing good sense’ to bring back something previously trialed and removed.
Speaking after his presentation, Mr Hill hinted it was proving difficult for those industry representatives wanting to push the consumer-focus line to break through some barriers.
“It is definitely hard at times to get traction for people who want to innovate,” he said.
“An awful lot of producer levy money has been spent on trying to get consumer-based outcomes.
“Yet we seem to keep getting pushed back with old paradigms.”
Mr Hill’s presentation to the Food Heroes forum certainly championed the need for the beef industry to move away from the commodity space and towards identifying and meeting consumer demands.
As a grassfed cattle producer representative, Mr Hill said he saw his job as “making sure innovation has a platform to go forward.”
“Anything we can do to make the product more valuable to the consumer at the end of the day is what we need to be doing,” he said.
“We have to be focussed on fit for purpose and selling our beef into the markets where the consumer has a willingness and capacity to pay a price that will sustain our industry going forward.
“In the past, the cheapest way to make money in this business has been the high throughput, minimum margin model.
“But we all know we now need to move beyond the commodity space.
“The new business model is about maximising returns.”
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