FOR those selling beef into increasingly affluent Asian markets, the trick will be to think meals rather than cuts.
Leading food scientists say the opportunities for beef emerging from our northern neighbours are limitless if we approach armed with a thorough understanding of the consumer.
Finding the right combination of quality, convenience and cooking process will be the path to success, according to Professor Mike Gidley, who heads up the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences in Brisbane.
The centre is part of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, a joint venture between the Queensland Government and the University of Queensland, and aims to highlight the opportunities for agriculture to develop premium food products by understanding what consumers want, how foods can be made more nutritious and having value based on Australian provenance.
Professor Gidley spoke at the recent Queensland Country Life Food Heroes forum, held on the Angus family’s beef property in Central Queensland.
He said the centre’s work was pointing to “a fantastic future for the beef industry where you are selling meals, of which the meat is only a small percentage but is what drives the experience.”
“We don’t know how much longer that six, seven, eight percent population growth rate of the wealthy in Asia will continue but in just another few years of it, you’re talking an extra hundred million highly affluent consumers,” Prof Gidley said.
“It has already been established they want their food to come from Australia.”
That meant incredibly lucrative market potential for Australian food.
Weetbix, for example, was currently being sold in Asia at three times the dollar it is in our supermarkets, Prof Gidley said.
“There really is no limit as to where you can have a go,” he said.
“But I’m here to tell you, as beef producers, you are in the food industry.”
The cash-rich, time-poor consumer would be chasing three key attributes and they were all linked to the concept of beef being part of a meal, he said.
“The Asian beef consumer of the future may be highly affluent but the size of his or her apartment - the kitchens they prepare their food in - will be tiny,” Prof Gidley said.
“And have you understood how little they know about anything other than the one traditional way of cooking they have been brought up on.
“What is self evident is the market of the future in terms of the newly affluent Asia is about bringing the world to them.
“Beef is centre of plate in this country but not so much that in Asia, yet it still the primary flavour while not always being the major component.”
Selling a meal, rather than a cut of beef, means we move away from the price-per-kilogram commodity market thinking, Prof Gidley explained.
“The global food industry works by converting price-per-kilo into price-per-occasion,” he said.
“If you want to unlock the value, work backwards from what the value of the final meal is.”
The way forward will likely be a case of “going and trying something and seeing what works,” he said.
“We can analyse to death and then go to market or we can just see what takes off and what evolves along the way,” he said.
We won’t need to have every detail worked out beforehand but we will need to understand what the consumer is after at the core.
The story Think meals rather than cuts, food scientists tell beef producers first appeared on Farm Online.