Lots of scope for Aussie lamb in US market
Students returning from the 2020 Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ) team’s January tour of the United States have reported many opportunities ahead for Australia’s red meat industry. The tour is sponsored by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) and has been undertaken by more than 130 students over 26 years.
The 2020 tour spanned four weeks, seven states, two inter-collegiate competitions and more than 50 industry experiences, exposing participants to the broad spectrum of the US red meat supply chain. Australian team member and 2019 University of New England graduate Claire Marriott received the second-highest individual score in the lamb section at the US National Western meat judging competition.
“I noticed the meat preferences of American consumers, in terms of species preference, was vastly different to that of consumers in Australia. It was evident that Americans do not yet share our love of lamb, and it was interesting to see the lack of fresh lamb on supermarket shelves and the number of people who simply didn’t know how to cook it. As millennials become more adventurous with their eating choices and the US national sheep flock continues to decline, I believe an opportunity may exist for Australia to supply the US with higher-quality volumes of lamb in the future,” Marriott said.
The networking events on the tour allowed attendees to contrast the differing production systems, meat supply chains and consumer preferences for meat as a protein source. Marriott said that Australian producers are ahead of the curve when it comes to operating production systems that allow better access to specific markets. This is due to the country’s national livestock traceability system and the ability to supply grass-fed and hormone-free products.
“During the tour, there appeared to be little demand for grass-fed or hormone-free beef products in the US. This is contrary to many trends in Australia and across Europe, where consumers are seeking a more ‘natural’ product and producers are supplying it. If US consumers begin to seek out more hormone-free product, for example, Australian producers are in a good position to help supply some of the demand as that’s already an established part of the market here,” Marriott said.
Marriott said the experience gained through ICMJ has set her up for an exciting career in the red meat industry, having recently commenced a Graduate position with the Australian Agricultural Company.
“The ICMJ program has cemented my passion for the red meat industry. I would highly recommend attending ICMJ events to any university student with an interest in agriculture or the red meat supply chain,” Marriott said.
Marriott’s full report, and those of the other US tour attendees, is available at: https://icmj.com.au/2020/04/30/usa2020tripreports/.
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