Remember My Name
Australian red meat has a unique opportunity to speak its name like never before.
In the wake of fake meat fever, the discussion has begun with respect to intellectual property and who can own the words and descriptions around meat and meat products.
Logic would tell us that meat analogue products surely want consumers to know that what's in the box is NOT MEAT. After all, that is their whole point of difference. If they don't make this point clear, then – yes – they are misleading the consumer. Not only that, but in breach of a piece of trans-Tasman legislation known as The Food Standards Code.
The FSANZ food code and federal consumer law describes what meat is i.e. the whole or part of the carcass of 10 species of farmed animals. However, the conversation has now moved to whether these words, terms and laws are robust enough to protect the meat and dairy business. This will be a most interesting debate to follow.
What's Your Nasho?
More than ever, punters want to understand the provenance of the food they choose i.e. where it comes from and how it's made. Knowing country of origin can signal quality and safety and serve as a competitive advantage against other foodstuffs whose origin is unclear.
Like plant based meat alternatives, for example.
Sure, Sunfed Chicken Free Chicken might be 'NZ made', but where do the bags of yellow pea protein isolate come from? Who makes it? And where and how are the peas grown? I wonder if Sunfed have the answers handy?
Australian red meat flexes clean, safe and high quality on the world stage and initiatives like the National Traceability Project supports this message.
But what else could Australian red meat defensibly and powerfully say about itself?
Is It Wine Time?
Photo credit : Explore Rutherglen.
There is plenty of imagination that has gone into the marketing of Australian wine and this approach continues to pay dividends for the industry on a global stage.
The red meat sector might look to North Eastern Victoria to see how the triple threat of provenance - country, region and brand - can build an identity and business at home (but mostly away).
The Winemakers of Rutherglen are a collective of 19 wineries from the well-known wine making region of Rutherglen. They jointly own the Winemakers of Rutherglen trademark which is a collective trade mark, allowing the group to control who can use it via their own rules around location and tradition. It also allows the group to pool marketing resources to present a united face to the world for their product.
"Situated in “God’s Country”, protected by the Great Dividing Range, Rutherglen is blessed with cool nights, warm days and gloriously long, dry autumns. In essence, the ideal viticultural conditions for pioneering varietals that are uniquely Australian in charm and in spirit."
Source : https://www.winemakers.com.au/
Imagine how beef and lamb products from specific regions could be brought centre stage on international tables!
Wimmera District Lamb, Mallee Blue Beef and Rockhampton Red ; or perhaps The Capricorn Collective or Fitzroy River Beef Producers could grace the menus of Asia and Europe with richly developed imagery and sense of place.
Its not enough to simply say the produce is 'Australian'. Sophisticated overseas consumers want a more compelling connection to which part of the wide brown land is feeding them tonight.
For next level provenance promise, outfits such as Provenir and Red8produce offer on farm processing, true digital traceability of each animal and claim to provide the highest welfare meat available in the Australian market place.
Make and Model
Rutherglen has developed its offerings substantially over more recent generations of winemakers. It's continental climate suits the growth of a wide range of grape varieties such as Marsanne, Viognier, Tempranillo along with Portuguese varieties Tinto Cao and Touriga Nacional.
However, it is Durif, Cabernet and Shiraz that continue to form the back bone of Rutherglen table wine production and some of its most exciting wines.
In the red meat biz, we know that Angus has worked well with mainstream offerings such as McDonald's Grand Angus and Classic Angus. Most are familiar with the high end specialised eating experience of Japanese Wagyu.
photo credit Huff Post
There must be an opportunity to develop identity around breed characteristics of red meat.
How about a quick brainstorm :
Lincoln Premium Lamb
Belmont Red Roast
This type of sub-branding gives a far richer statement of provenance to the consumer.
There are more than 200 varieties in the muscat family, but only one is used to make Rutherglen Muscat - the high quality Muscat a Petits Grains Rouge (muscat with little red berries). In true Aussie understated fashion, the local winemakers refer to it simply as Rutherglen Brown Muscat. The Winemakers of Rutherglen also own the Muscat of Rutherglen trademark which the collective apply to their own branded muscat products.
Photo credit : Winemakers of Rutherglen
The red meat industry could protect itself further by developing and protecting new marketing names for cuts. Some well named and hard to copy products include cattleman’s cutlet and tomahawk cutlets - both of these names are unowned and unprotected. Interestingly, the Lady Tomahawk trademark is owned by AACo.
A unique provenance angle would be to embrace indigenous culture and distinctive nation language to name innovative cuts . How about a Cooee Cutlet ? Cooee means ‘come here’ in the Dharug language from the South Western areas of Sydney.
Or what about a Woomera Steak? A woomera is a most fascinating invention. It lies between the end of a spear and your hand. The woomera acts as a lever that propels the spear at an incredible speed. Fun fact : a woomera and spear are so fast that they were actually the fastest weapon before the existence of the rifle.
Without question, you would need approval and buy-in from the custodians of the indigenous language, and this would add mightily to the unique provenance of the cut.
This Place Has Taste
Never underestimate the importance and complexity of feelings that arise when food is connected to its origin.
Sensory science has known for some time that the narrative of a food can actually influence the perceived taste of the dish. New research from Future Consumer Lab at the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen has demonstrated that if we know where the food comes from and how it is made, it is more appealing.
Another compelling reason to pump up the provenance.
Carey Cares About Provenance
Yusof Dayan Iskandar Carey runs Butcher Carey, an Australian and US beef importer who supplies high-end Malaysian steak restaurants.
At LIVEXchange19 in Townsville, Mr Carey was pretty up front about how well the US were working the provenance angle and that Australia could take a hint - even giving specifics on breed and region.
"Don't just brand it Aussie beef, that doesn't sell it anymore" says Carey.
"I don't want just Aussie beef. I want Hereford, or Murray Grey from this or that river or pure Red Angus from Tassie."
"I can get prime Iowa US pure grain-fed Angus so packaging that says '60 days grain-fed Australian' is not enough."
Framing It Up
By their very nature, plant based meat analogues and cell cultured meat cannot tell an origin story .This leaves the door wide open for the genuine product to establish superior credentials.
Well beyond Australia, our industry could be building a highly defensible red meat identity and character by dialing up our regions and breeds ; and developing and protecting distinctively Australian cuts.
Wimmera Prime Nulla Nulla Tenderloin, anyone?