BRITISH BEEF producers could achieve better returns from a new carcass grading system based on eating quality, pioneered in Australia.

John Thompson, professor of meat science at New England University, Australia, said the Meat Standards Australia system could reward farmers for higher-value carcasses and cuts with the best eating quality.

At a meeting held at the Royal Bath and West showground, he said: “It worked for us – the UK has to see if it can work for them.”

Dr Thompson criticised the EUROP grading system, which only pays producers on carcass description and estimated fat content, saying it bore little relationship to meat quality.

“It‘s not a particularly sharp tool – a number of British researchers have shown this.”

Studies showed that consumers would buy more and pay more if they were satisfied, said Dr Thompson.

Critical measures like juiciness, tenderness, flavour and overall eating quality were valued to give an overall meat quality score.

National Beef Association chief executive Robert Forster said: “The NBA has always maintained that beef [in this country] is undervalued.

“The best of the product should be differentiated. Something like this has to be adopted.

“It‘s crucial to the future of the meat industry that consumers get a guarantee of quality, and supermarkets should support this if they are serious about giving the consumer the best.”