Beef Branding in Australia
At the time of the Award Rebecca Arnott was National Brand Manager for the Australian Agricultural Company’s branded beef products.
With beef consumption, until recently, within Australia declining, the advent of branded beef complete with a stringent set of standards, underpinned by Ausmeat and Meat Standards Australia, has helped turn consumption around and has helped the major pastoral companies and producer groups value add their product and retain greater control of the value chain.
Rebecca’s vision is to be part of a true beef industry supply chain alliance where all players are working towards the common goal of increasing red meat consumption, through consistent quality and quantity branded product.
Her project was to investigate the branded beef market, in the retail and food service sectors, in the United Kingdom, United States and Japan. Key areas of investigation included supply chain management, product differentiation, packaging, labelling and presentation, in supermarkets, butcher shops, hotels and restaurants.
The study tour Rebecca undertook provided her with a greater understanding of Australia’s biggest beef export markets and the importance of branded beef within those markets, with the expectation of identifying new opportunities for Australian branded product, along with new contacts, knowledge and expertise.
Rebecca met with numerous people involved in the red meat industries in Japan, the US and UK, including retailers and wholesalers and food service industry executives, along with customers and chefs and Meat and Livestock Australia overseas managers. She also attended and supported customers at a major food trade show whilst in Japan.
In Australia branded beef product has proved very popular in the food service and restaurant sector but has been slow to take off with consumers in the retail sector, including the major supermarkets. However in the US, UK and Japan Rebecca found quite the contrary situation, with branded beef occupying substantial shelf space in retail outlets, but little evidence of branded product in the food service sector. She also found some innovative marketing tools and points of difference employed overseas.
In the UK, for example, she found some supermarkets promoting the farm and point of origin of beef with a picture of the farm and comments by the producer or a recognized chef, while in the US, recognized sporting heroes were used to brand and differentiate product. She also found the packaging and presentation of beef particularly in the US and Japan to be excellent, with the capacity for domestic beef in Japan to be scanned back from supermarket to point of origin to ascertain the background of the cattle.
While it was too early to quantify the impact of Rebecca’s study tour on the Australian industry, the most immediate and direct implication was the development and promotion of a specialty steak section featuring branded beef in Coles supermarket, in collaboration with MLA. Rebecca’s study tour was critical to providing the necessary information on product differentiation, packaging and labeling, point of sale material and value adding strategies to orchestrate this.
The Award has given Rebecca a much broader understanding of Australia’s key trading partners and their branded beef product and of the issues and opportunities facing the Australian industry as it embraces branded product.