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MiNDFOOD chats to Haverick Meats’ CEO Peter Andrews about how the family-owned company is leading the way for quality meats in Australia.

What’s the difference between grain-fed and grass-fed beef?
People generally judge beef on three factors: the way it’s cooked, tenderness and flavour. With grass and grain, the flavour profiles are quite different. In many cases, grass-fed will give you a distinct, robust beef flavour. Ant that is what people love about grass-fed. That clean, beef flavour. Grain-fed beef is still good, but it is different. The cattle feed on wheat-based food grains – the flavour is there, but it’s not as distinct as grass. However, grain-fed beef is often more tender. Grain-fed cattle have a controlled feeding regime, where grass is more natural and the cattle are left to their own devices. Grain is a lot more controlled. Grain-fed tends to produce more marbelling. When it cooks, the flecks of fat through the eye muscle add to the tenderness.

But now, companies like Teys Australia have decided to underpin the grass-fed beef by MSA, and by doing that and using that technology they are guaranteeing that tenderness now as well. That’s critical because now we have meat that tastes good and is tender.

MSA is a complex grading system. The beef has to qualify under all these parameters to get a big tick to say it’s MSA improved and guaranteed.

What cuts of meat are you seeing growing in popularity?
Beef is not cheap, especially when it comes to the eye fillet, sirloin, the rump – those sweet cuts. But there are so many other great cuts on an animal, and chefs are now experimenting with these secondary cuts (skirt steak, flank steak, short rib) because they are a lot cheaper, but you also need to know how to cook it. Cooked properly, the results are amazing. The flavour and tenderness is there, and the price is about half of the sweet cuts.

How does Australian beef compare on an international stage?
I think people look at Australian beef as some of the best in the world. We’ve always had great cattle, but I think that with some of the technology available here that’s not available in other countries around the world – the grading system has helped so much. We’re now able to focus on if people want beef a certain age, size and with a diet, and we have the technology now to raise these animals properly.

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Tell us about the Haverick Meats Saturday Store
People have the ability to come in and experiment, I guess. We have for sale those secondary cuts that you might not see in a butchers. We’re an outlet and we’re experts and we’re supplying directly into restaurants, and if the meat we’re selling is good enough for the restaurants, people are assured that it’s good enough for them.

People are becoming better educated and more specific with their requests. They ask, “Do you have Angus beef? Do you have grass-fed beef? What part of Australia does this come from?” Because we have all those answers and we carry the range, people love that. They know exactly what they’re getting, and that’s really helped our shoppers. It’s amazing how much customers do know. People want to know more about what they’re cooking. Consumer knowledge is so far greater than what it used to be.

Where biggest demand for grass-fed beef?
You see it mainly in the restaurant. They have the ability to change menus quickly. They’re very active in the marketplace – what’s new, what’s hot, what’s happening. Bars and pubs do follow but it takes them longer because they don’t have the ability to experiment as restaurants do. Then everyone seems to follow what the restaurants do – they read about it and go: ‘You know what, I want to try what he’s doing’.

We have some of the best meat available in the market, but you need to know how to cook it. That’s why we work with some of the country’s best chefs. I like to think that we’re supply partners, more than a supplier. We form a partnership with our chefs. That’s very important because if they start off with the right produce, it really makes their dishes shine.

What meat do Australian’s eat most of across the spectrum?
Poultry is very high. From my store, I can tell people are coming in for the highest-quality meat, so my sales wouldn’t be a reflection of the whole of Australia. But I find that the way it goes is: beef, then lamb, chicken, pork and then veal.

Thoughts on nose-to-tail dining?
We had this concept a long time ago. Before we used to buy everything on the hook. Today, carcases come broken up into the muscles. When you buy it on the hook someone has to break it up. You need to utilize everything because you don’t want to throw it away. You can maximize the yield and be quite creative in how you use some of these cuts. Pigs ears, cheek, tail – the chefs, if they’re creative enough, they can use the whole carcass and keep purchase costs down. You do need a talented chef to do this, and they really give you a unique experience.

What we’re finding in talking to customers coming into the store, people might be eating less meat but they want to make sure that the quality is the best they can buy. Our store carries the best quality meat. It’s value and it eats really well. People don’t want meat bargains – there’s a big movement towards buying quality meat and to have traceability and know where it comes from as well.

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