Black­more, Rangers Val­ley, Snake River Farms, Ta­jima… you’ve prob­a­bly come across these names on Singapore’s steak­house menus, and that doesn’t even scratch the sur­face of the plethora of op­tions avail­able to din­ers when it comes to Aus­tralian beef. Down Un­der’s beef pro­duc­tion far ex­ceeds do­mes­tic consumption, due to the small pop­u­la­tion and sheer amount of space to ac­com­mo­date more farms, which means that much of their beef prod­ucts are ex­ported to coun­tries such as Korea, Ja­pan and the U.S.A. In con­trast, the U.S. only ex­ports about 12 per­cent of their beef.

Un­like pro­duc­ers in Ja­pan, which tend to stick to their na­tive breeds, Aus­tralian farm­ers use dif­fer­ent species such as the An­gus (from Scot­land) and Here­ford (from Eng­land) in or­der to meet mar­ket spec­i­fi­ca­tions and han­dle the di­verse en­vi­ron­ments around the coun­try. And be­cause there’s sim­ply more graz­ing land avail­able, there’s more op­por­tu­nity to raise grass-fed cat­tle along with grain-fed (which usu­ally means that the cows are kept in feed­lots their en­tire lives), giv­ing health-con­scious con­sumers more op­tions and thereby wel­com­ing another mar­ket seg­ment. Grass-fed beef is leaner and tougher, but can of­fer greater di­men­sions of flavour when cooked well.

What is com­monly said to have led beef ex­ports from Aus­tralia to sky­rocket and the in­dus­try to flour­ish in the last 15 years was the out­break of Mad Cow Dis­ease (or BSE) around the world, par­tic­u­larly in the U.S. As mar­kets such as Ja­pan and Korea closed their doors to U.S. prod­ucts overnight, it only made sense that they would look to the next clos­est op­tion – Aus­tralia. The coun­try’s beef grad­ing sys­tem, reg­u­lated by Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia, is called Meat Stan­dards Aus­tralia (MSA) and takes into ac­count the meat’s colour, mar­bling, fat depth, car­cass weight, ma­tu­rity and ph to grade on a scale of 100 (no in­tra­mus­cu­lar fat) to 1190 (ex­treme amounts of in­tra­mus­cu­lar fat). How­ever, restau­rants around the world rarely use MSA and in­stead go by the sim­pler AUS-MEAT sys­tem, which tells din­ers the amount of mar­bling in the beef on a scale of 0 to 9 (none to most).

Raw Westholme tom­a­hawk TIP

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