The West

Consumers shift to mature beef
Consumers shift to mature beef

Beef consumers are more conscious of where their meat comes from than ever, according to WA’s farming community.

Sales at last week’s Manjimup’s cattle auction indicated a changing trend as new season vealers were bought by grazers and feedlots as opposed to butchers.

Westcoast Livestock auctioneer Neil Foale said WA’s beef market was indicating a preference for beef which had been weaned and fed on grass or grain instead of vealers taken directly from their mothers to an abattoir.

“A majority of new season vealers were bought by grazers and feedlots — the butchers weren’t keen today,” he said.

“The supermarkets and butchers are more likely to process grainfed cattle and cattle off grass rather than off milk.

“Consumers are very conscious and are becoming more so.”

Mr Foale said the trend was a result of the cost for butchers to process cattle and that processing a lightweight or heavy animal was the same.

He said butchers would get a higher value for money if they sent cattle to an abattoir once it had developed. A WA Beef Council spokeswoman confirmed there was a trend and said it was due to the quality of the final product.

“If a butcher bought vealers coming straight from their mum and sent them to slaughter there is a higher chance the animalwould become stressed and result in a ‘dark cut’,” she said.

“The meat is darker and has been proven to be tougher as opposed to beef bought by a feedlot, fed on grass and then sent to an abattoir.”

Blackwood Valley Beef manager Warren Pensini said grassfed beef was healthier for customers and was environmentally friendly if managed correctly on a planned grazing setup.

Elders’ State livestock manager Paul Mahoney said the trend was dependent on consumer demand — the shift started three years ago.

Mr Foale said cows sold at last week’s sale had sold for an average of 95c/kg liveweight, steer vealers sold for an average of 195c/kg and heifer vealers made 145c/kg.

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