Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Organic Beef - A Growth Story in Australia

While the number of producers applying for formal certification to the main organic certifying bodies is not huge, it is steadily increasing, with over 60 producers being added in the past year or so.

For many extensive graziers, who do not use huge external inputs into their beef cattle operation and graze natural pastures, the change is not necessarily a major one, on the production areas.

But where it really counts is the better price on offer for organic beef, often 16 - 25% more for the producer.

This additional return adds a considerable benefit in a somewhat depressed Australian domestic cattle market, and with virtually all organic beef being sold - either locally or overseas, a much better secure income.

Two groups are among the major players in Australia - Arcadian Organic Beef and OBE [ probably the significant player who got the market started].  The former sources cattle within both Queensland and NSW predominantly, while OBE tends to source livestock from the Channel country.

There are issues around handling, slaughter and processing to ensure the organic certification is maintained from paddock to plate, and where cattle need to move from extensive to more intensive pastured areas, they must go via organically certified properties, which is often a bit tricky.

But very doable.

While organic beef is an already established market commodity, the newcomer - certified pasture fed beef is also rapidly developing a market profile.

Some argue that grass fed beef is superior in quality to grain finished beef, and there is some evidence to support that in terms of fat quality and the presence of higher omega-3 levels in grass fed meats.  Certainly, grass fed beef is good eating!

But it is the organic meat story that is thriving - more power to the quality of Australian produced food.


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