A strategic partnership takes prime NZ beef to the US

ANZCO Foods ribeye steak

Thousands of Americans are enjoying prime Angus beef raised on Ātihau land, thanks to a supplier relationship with ANZCO.

Working with a customer similar to New Zealand’s My Food Bag, the company holds the largest market share in the US in this sector and provides recipes and ingredients for its customers to cook interesting and tasty meals at home.

“We have been working with ANZCO for 12 months and we began supplying the customer with our prime Angus just before Christmas,” Andrew Beijeman, Ātihau Whanganui Incorporation CE, says. “It is a very satisfying example of the AWHI value strategy coming to fruition and we aren’t stopping there.”

Focus has been on targeting the marbling score, a measure of quality held in high esteem by the customer.

“Marbling is the intramuscular fat that really gives the meat its taste,’ Dean Francois, manager of Ohotū Station, AWHI’s finishing block, explains. “We are really focusing on improving that standard across our Angus herd.”

Marbling is mainly an inherited trait and so animals showing a high level of intramuscular fat are being used as breeding stock, such as bulls from the South Island’s Te Mania stud, one of New Zealand’s leading Angus studs.

But genetics don’t deliver the goods if the management of the stock is not handled correctly and of prime concern is ensuring that the young stock is adequately fed.

“If youngsters lose weight, they lose that intramuscular fat and no amount of finishing when they reach 18 months will put it back – the damage is already done,” Francois explains. “It is vital that attention to the feeding of the stock happens right from when they are born, to ensure that you get the result you want.”

It takes around two years to finish an animal, with heifers taking less time and some steers taking longer.

Ohotū Station runs 2,700 head of cattle, finishing around 1,800 steers and heifers each year. Francois’ knowledge and experience are essential when it comes to deciding when animals are ready.

“Each animal is weighed, which plays a large part in knowing when they are ready, but I also assess each animal before a final decision is made to send them off or keep them on a little longer,” he says.

Almost half the animals produced are going to the American customer at present, with the rest going to other companies such as Angus Pure who supply Countdown supermarkets in New Zealand, but Andrew is keen to see that increase.

“There is plenty of room for improvement as some of our animals simply do not make the grade,” he says. “But our long-term strategy of using the best genetics and high-level stock management will pay off to improve the overall quality of the herd. We have big plans for the future.”

This article was first published in AWHI Magazine, September 2017 (https://issuu.com/deputy_editor/docs/awhi_issue_6).

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