Australia's globally-recognised eating quality grading program, Meat Standards Australia delivered an estimated $172 million in additional farm gate returns to beef producers in the last financial year.
The latest MSA Annual Outcomes data shows a record-breaking 3.8 million cattle were MSA graded in 2019-20, an eight per cent increase in the number of cattle compared to the previous financial year. This represented 46pc of the national adult cattle slaughter.
In 2019-20, 4.3 million sheep followed MSA pathways, a 5pc increase from 2018-19, with 64pc of these going into MSA trademarked brands.
It is estimated that 57pc of the national lamb slaughter was processed through MSA licensed processors.
This is one of the exclusive stories to appear in a special publication published in The Land, Queensland Country Life and Stock and Land this week called Carcase Merit.
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Meat & Livestock Australia group manager adoption and commercialisation Sarah Strachan said the program's latest data demonstrated the value MSA continued to deliver to producers and Australia's red meat industry.
"In 2019-20, the average price differential for young non-feedlot MSA cattle was 27 cents per kilogram hot standard carcase weight, compared to the same non-MSA graded cattle," Ms Strachan said.
"Non-feedlot cattle represented 38pc of MSA graded cattle, and feedlot cattle represented 62pc of MSA graded cattle. The increase in proportion of feedlot cattle is reflective of the drought conditions in recent years and the subsequent high levels of cattle on feed."
Ms Strachan said the commitment of producers to adopting on-farm practices to achieve outstanding eating quality in their livestock saw the national average compliance to MSA minimum requirements for beef lift to 94.2pc, up from 93.8pc in 2018-19.
"This commitment is also reflected in the national MSA Index, which increased to a record 58.03, an increase of 0.55 index points on the previous year," Ms Strachan said.
"The MSA Index is a single number and standard national measure of the predicted eating quality of a carcase. It provides meaningful producer feedback to benchmark performance and reflects the impact of on-farm impacts on eating quality.
"The benefits of the MSA program continue to attract producers, with 2,900 beef and sheepmeat producers becoming MSA registered in 2019-20."
Ms Strachan said the Eating Quality Graded (EQG) cipher, released in 2017 to provide brand owners with an eating quality alternative to dentition-based ciphers, continued to have strong adoption.
"As of June 2020, brand owners and processors that represent 50pc of MSA graded beef have adopted the EQG cipher for both domestic and international markets," Ms Strachan said.
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