Supplied for AngusPRO magazine 2022
For decades Angus beef farmers have endeavoured to produce premium quality beef, and more of it. New Zealand’s 100 per cent farmer-owned co-operative Alliance Group is now recognising those efforts with both its new Angus program and the all-breeds Pure South Handpicked program.
Processing of cattle in the Angus program began in October 2021 after Alliance partnered with AngusPure NZ.
As well as tight specifications around carcass weights, pH, meat colour and more, animals must be strictly grass fed, use no hormone growth promotants and be antibiotic free. All cattle in the program must be tagged with an AngusPure Source & Trace tag, ensuring that they’re sired by a registered or PRAC/APR Angus bull and out of an Angus or first-cross Angus dam.
The main driver of the program, aside from the obvious Angus breed restriction, is marbling, with premiums of up to 40c/kg being rewarded for cattle marbling at +1 or above on the AUS-MEAT Chiller Assessment Grading system.
“Alliance and AngusPure believe that quality should be rewarded and this is a real driver behind these programs,” says Alliance’s category director beef Darren Drury.
“The partnership not only strengthens our commitment to beef, it is delivering enormous value to all those farmers using Angus genetics in New Zealand.”
There’s been a relatively high pass rate for the Angus program so far, he says.
“We’ve had really positive feedback from farmers and food industry representatives throughout the supply chain.”
The dual-tiered Pure South Handpicked program handles carcasses that qualify 2+ or 4+ for marbling and delivers respective premiums of up to $1/kg, provided carcasses meet the other relevant criteria.
The Handpicked program primarily rewards high- marbling carcasses and although fewer than 20% of the animals meet the Tier 2 marbling requirement of 4+, that percentage is slowly increasing as farmers chase premiums through the use of high-performance genetics and improve their feed management.
“The whole purpose of Alliance moving into this quality beef space was to start accessing more high-quality animals, but more importantly, it sends farmers a really clear signal that they can be rewarded for the extra work they do to get their cattle in the right condition,” says Darren.
“With consistency being a key driver of the program, we are steadily seeing an improvement in fat colour, meat colour and marbling, with the variations caused by factors such as feed, climate and geography.”
Marbling is what brings the flavour and juiciness to quality beef. The consumer demands a consistent and extraordinary eating experience and these programs are delivering.