ANGUS Australia is celebrating its centenary in 2019, but it is the achievements of the last three or four decades that have been perhaps the most remarkable.
Angus Australia chief executive officer Peter Parnell says the breed's exponential growth from a relatively minor breed in the early 1980s to the most dominant beef breed in temperate Australia has been no fluke.
He puts this success down to how Angus breeders have embraced genetic technologies to assist in their breeding decisions, but also how the breed society has worked closely with the whole beef supply chain.
Mr Parnell, who has been at the helm of Angus Australia for the past decade, says the breed remains on a growth path throughout the world.
In southern Australia, about two-thirds of the beef herd is influenced by Angus.
There are presently about 70,000 calves registered each year with the society, according to Mr Parnell.
"In the last 10 years on average we have had a 5 per cent per year growth," he said.
Globally over the last three to four decades there has been recognition of the superior meat quality attributes of Angus and this has influenced strong demand for high quality Angus product.
"We expect this year registration numbers to be back with the drought so widespread, but when we had a similar major setback a few years ago we went from down 5pc to up 10pc."
He says Australian breeders have made the most of the large Angus gene pool across the world in their breeding and never lost sight of the consumer by working with processors, wholesalers and retailers.
"Globally over the last three to four decades there has been recognition of the superior meat quality attributes of Angus and this has influenced strong demand for high quality Angus product," he said.
"Australia is largely a beef exporting country and we have been able to send high quality beef into Asian countries, particularly Japan, Korea and China. To satisfy this demand lot feeders, in particular, have paid a premium for Angus cattle to get sufficient numbers in the feedlots."
Mr Parnell says Angus breeders should be proud of what has been achieved in enhancing carcase quality, particularly marbling, without compromising the maternal traits the breed was first renowned for.
Angus Breedplan, launched in the mid 1980s, has driven much of this continual genetic improvement.
"Angus breeders have always led the way adopting and validating Breedplan and where new traits and technology are included, Angus breeders have always been at the forefront in its adoption," he said.
"Well over 90pc of our members record their cattle on Angus Breedplan - the expectation by bull buyers is if you are producing Angus seedstock cattle, they come with estimated breeding values."
Undoubtedly, though, it is marketing that has made Angus beef a household name.
The society-launched subsidiary company, Certified Australian Angus Beef, launched the first successful branded beef on the Australian market more than 20 years ago.
CAAB paved the way for many other Angus brands in the marketplace.
About three years ago, Angus Australia decided to transition away from the brand and instead focus on providing brand verification support for various processor-owned proprietary Angus brands.
Angus Australia verifies the Angus beef sold through fast food giant McDonalds along with the meat that goes into seven premium Angus brands from NH Foods Australia, Rangers Valley and Three Creek Beef.
Mr Parnell says this brand verification work offers dual benefits, both improving the marketability of Angus cattle but guaranteeing that only Angus cattle are being sold into the brands.
"Our aim is to expand our activity in the supply chain - every food commodity more and more will be looking to brands, including Angus beef," he said.
Mr Parnell says to stay at the top, the breed needs to remain focused on investing in research. It is working closely with CSIRO and various universities to develop new traits such as those related to related to maternal efficiency, eating quality, heat tolerance and immune competency.
"As a breed we need to be willing to evolve to meet the changing needs of our customers," he said.
"Similarly, the needs of a breed society today are quite different from 10 years ago and we fully expect they will be different again in another 10 years."
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