Omi Katsume, Osamu Arimura and Kimio Nagatsuka are regional managers from the Japan Meat Grading Association (JMGA) who spent the week in Australia gaining a greater understanding of the Australian beef industry.
A tour highlight was a visit to Jim Wedge and Jacki Chard’s Ascot Stud on North Toolburra at Warwick where they toured the 1200-hectare property and inspected its internationally recognised stud Angus herd.
The trio earlier visited the John Dee meatworks in Warwick and visited Carey Brothers impressive butcher shop in Warwick’s Rose City shopping centre. The men will also visit Beef City at Purrawunda, Kerwee Feedlot at Jondaryan and Australian Country Choice in Brisbane.
Speaking through an interpreter the men said they were surprised by the quiet nature of the cattle. They spent a significant amount of time in the paddocks at North Toolburra studying bulls and the breeding females. They said they would be reluctant to approach cattle in Japan in a similar manner.
Mr Wedge said the quiet nature of the cattle was a reflection of Ascot Stud’s commitment to the MSA grading system.
“We are breeding based on the principles of the MSA quality of meat,” Mr Wedge said. “Good temperament in cattle is an essential part of producing the best beef.”
Mr Katsume explained that every piece of meat at any stage in the supply chain could be traced back to the individual animal and as far back as the farm from which it was sourced.
“A sample of meat is taken from the carcase which is DNA tested,” Mr Katsume said. “If required, that sample can be used to match any piece of meat to provide traceability.”
The men were also extremely interested in Australia’s MSA system.
Mr Arimura said in Japan the carcase was graded for traits included meat yield, marbling, colour, and texture. However, any guarantees on the actual eating quality of beef were left to retailers.
Mr Nagatsuka said beef was purchased based on what dish was being prepared rather than as a ‘favourite’ cut as appeared to be common in Australia.
The Government-owned JMGA has 17 offices in various locations in Japan servicing the countries 200 meatworks. Japan processes some 1.1 million cattle a year of which about 950,000 carcases are graded. Japan also grades some 12 million pig carcases.