Eat­ing Qual­ity puts NZ in front

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

New Zealand’s largest sci­ence in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the eat­ing qual­ity of red meat in­volv­ing 13,700 taste testers is about to pay off for pro­ces­sor and ex­porter Sil­ver Fern Farms (SFF).

The re­search has been used by the farmer-owned co-op­er­a­tive to cre­ate a new eat­ing qual­ity grad­ing sys­tem for beef.

SFF chief ex­ec­u­tive Keith Cooper said the SFF Eat­ing Qual­ity (EQ) sys­tem started with con­sumers and worked back to farm pas­tures so the co-op­er­a­tive could de­liver what they wanted to eat.

‘‘We need to be world lead­ers in red meat if New Zealand is to do more than sim­ply trade com­modi­ties and this col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search and new grad­ing sys­tem and our new range of ‘ Re­serve’ beef cer­tainly puts us out in front.’’

The project fit­ted with the Gov­ern­ment’s busi­ness growth goal of build­ing a more com­pet­i­tive and pro­duc­tive econ­omy, he said.

The co-op­er­a­tive funded the re­search as part of the Far­mIQ Pri­mary Growth Part­ner­ship pro­gramme with the Gov­ern­ment. The re­search was car­ried out by a team of 38 sci­en­tists from Texas Tech Univer­sity in the United States and food sci­en­tists at Otago Univer­sity.

Con­sumer taste pan­els of 20 peo­ple have been run­ning nearly ev­ery week this year in 17 cities across NZ and the US.

Mr Cooper said re­search at this level had been a mas­sive lo­gis­tics ex­er­cise.

‘‘We un­der­stand that a con­sumer trial of 500 peo­ple is con­sid­ered large for prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, but the scope of this re­search has been de­lib­er­ately wide so we are set up to tar­get high end con­sumers, with a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent cuts of meat and cook­ing styles around the globe.’’

He said the EQ sys­tem fit­ted with the co­op­er­a­tive’s model of­fer­ing pre­mium ranges of beef to the high value food ser­vice and ho­tel, restau­rant and cater­ing sec­tor.

‘‘Last week we went to Anuga in Ger­many, Europe’s largest food fair, and showed around 100 of our cus­tomers what we’ve man­aged to do with our EQ sys­tem for beef and they we’re re­ally im­pressed. No one else is do­ing this in such an aligned man­ner, or at this scale.

‘‘They’ll get on board and pay a pre­mium be­cause they know their con­sumers want this con­sis­tent qual­ity – es­pe­cially as they can’t guar­an­tee it from any­where else.’’

Farm­ers sup­ply­ing prime beef to the co­op­er­a­tive will re­ceive new grad­ing re­ports in­di­cat­ing how their beef rates across a set of eat­ing qual­ity cri­te­ria from next month.

Mr Cooper said the re­ports would help them make man­age­ment de­ci­sions around their stock so they could im­prove their qual­ity and max­imise their fi­nan­cial re­turns.

Farm­ers un­der dif­fer­ent con­tracts would re­ceive a pre­mium for meet­ing EQ mas­ter grade stan­dards in a move to re­ward con­tracted farm­ers and en­cour­age other farm­ers to join the co-op­er­a­tive.

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