Producers debate MSA premiums

Appetite exists for evolving beef language


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Q&A session: MSA producers got to hear from Teys Australia chief value chain officer Tom Maguire, Norman Hotel executive chef Frank Correnti, and Kilcoy Global Foods livestock manager Craig Price.

Q&A session: MSA producers got to hear from Teys Australia chief value chain officer Tom Maguire, Norman Hotel executive chef Frank Correnti, and Kilcoy Global Foods livestock manager Craig Price.

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An MSA forum in Biloela on Tuesday has been dominated by a consistent question - where's the premium?

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Queensland beef producers have gathered in Biloela to talk about the current position of Meat and Livestock Australia's MSA program, but the forum was dominated by a consistent question - where's the premium?

A number of producers in the room questioned the benefit of the MSA program on Tuesday, saying the value of their premium product wasn't being seen at the farm gate.

MSA program manager Sarah Strachan said the feedback was interesting and it was great to hear from producers, but disagreed that the program wasn't beneficial.

"MSA can become a bit of a market access tool; the fact that someone is buying those cattle because they are MSA eligible, I think that is in itself a good position to be in," she said.

"We've seen that in MSA lambs as well - the premiums may not be there, but you can't sell them unless you're MSA eligible.

"Companies like Teys and Kilcoy, we heard today, have got MSA brands and are MSA grading nearly everything.

"If you didn't have MSA-compliant cattle, you wouldn't be able to supply them, so it's actually a premium itself that you have access to a supply chain."

The industry's new Eating Quality Graded cipher, which was introduced in 2017, was also a hot topic of discussion, with producers asking processors during a Q&A panel about why their beef makes MSA grade but doesn't pass company specifications.

Teys Australia chief value chain officer Tom Maguire said despite there being no scientific relationship between dentition and eating quality, there were still markets around the world insisting on using dentition.

"Our most important job from where I sit, is we've got to go to all our customers and change what they've been doing for 40 years because we're changing from that Aus-Meat system to one that's based on EQG," he said.

"We've been shifting our plants across to EQC slowly, but that's a one-by-one customer discussion.

"We make changes in science but changing industry is one conversation at a time.

"We're kind of stuck nicely at the moment between the Aus-Meat system and the MSA one."

Ms Strachen said the forum showed a real appetite from producers to adopt these new changes in the language and move away from traditional carcase classification like dentition.

The story Producers debate MSA premiums first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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