Two New Zealand meat companies scored gold in the 2018 World Steak Challenge in London last week.
Alliance Group took away medals for two steaks from its Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef grass-fed range – gold for its rib-eye steak and a bronze for a fillet steak. First Light Foods also won gold for a grass-fed Wagyu rib-eye steak.
These were awarded at an event for 200 invited guests after the busy day of judging on 4 July, benchmarking the quality of beef production against global competitors.
According to a delighted Alliance general manager marketing Peter Russell, Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef is based on an innovative grading system focused on superior eating quality. Internationally-accredited master graders carefully hand select carcases from prime cattle of any breed.
The selection is based on quantifiable meat quality characteristics such as marbling, fat cover, fat colour and pH, he says. Alliance selects from Prime animals only (Steer and Heifer), and the carcase must have a marbling score of 4+, and pH of 5.7 or lower. Selected cuts are then aged in a vacuum-bag for 55 days. Only a fraction of the very finest beef ever makes the grade.
The product, the first within Pure South’s Handpicked range, is aimed exclusively at the foodservice sector. It was launched in May following a three-year research and development programme and extensive chef and premium restaurant trials.
Russell says the product has an unprecedented level of tenderness and a milder beef flavour profile, suitable for a variety of eating experiences.
“The product has been developed with restaurants in mind. The extended wet ageing of the product means chefs may choose to serve immediately or further dry age.
“Feedback from our trials at restaurants around the country and from ‘blind’ taste testing alongside other premium beef products has been exceptional with chefs reporting an unprecedented level of succulence, tenderness and flavour.
“This award also provides international affirmation of the programme’s objectives – being breed agnostic, selecting only the finest quality carcases and pre-ageing the product before release.
“The success in this competition and the independent gold medal becomes a very powerful stamp of quality that will be used as an integral part of the product marketing.
“This accolade on the world stage underlines the value of our commitment to building a differentiated premium portfolio, directed to specific channels and consumer requirements and offering farmers the opportunity to partner with us on products for new segments across our entire range.”
Heather Stacy, general manager livestock and shareholder services at Alliance, says: “Handpicked is a further step in the company’s strategy to capture more market value for farmer shareholders.
“We’d like to see more animals making the grade. We are collecting a range of data from the selection process to identify attributes that may influence marbling outcomes. Once we have collated 18-24 months of data, we will be able to provide feedback to farmers on those factors.”
Danish company JN Meat International came away with the supreme award of World’s Best Steak for a grass-fed Ayrshire sirloin from a Finnish animal. This is understood to be the first time a grass-fed steak has won the competition. The company also won the categories for the World’s Best Rib Eye, Sirloin and Grass-fed Steak and nine of the golds, while ABP Poland won the World’s Best Fillet Steak and Germany’s OSI International GmbH came away with the trophy for World’s Best Grass-Fed.
Australian meat companies also participated in the challenge, with Jack’s Creek receiving three golds for Black Angus/Wagyu grain-fed steaks (sirloin, fillet and rib-eye), Mort & Co two for grass-fed Black Angus (rib-eye and sirloin), while JBS Global and Providore Global received one each for a grass-fed and a grain-fed, respectively.
Overall, there were 45 gold medal, 37 silver and 54 bronze accolades awarded at the fourth edition of the annual World Steak Challenge. This saw companies from 22 countries entering steaks from 35 different breeds, including cross-breeds and pure breeds.
Find out more at worldsteakchallenge.com where you can also register interest for next year’s event.