By FWi staff

THE drive to establish volume retail demand for higher priced, quality beef cuts is being hindered by a presentation paradox that is inflicting long term damage on sales, claims the National Beef Association (NBA).

Bright red, visually attractive, fat free, fresh beef of the type favoured by most bulk selling supermarkets can chew like old rope, it said.

But in contrast darker coloured well finished beef which has been conditioned on the bone for a number of days, and most modern consumers have been trained to regard with suspicion, is virtually certain to be a joy to have on the plate.

NBA chief executive, Robert Forster said that this fundamental inconsistency lies at the heart of a crucial beef industry dilemma.

“Consumers that buy the former are too often disappointed because its visual appeal is misleading. But they wouldnít buy the latter, even though they are more likely to enjoy it,” he added.

According to the NBA one of the problems is the reaction of many consumers to the amount of fat necessary to assist on-the-bone conditioning and add flavour.

But the NBA believes there are many arguments to support the view that eating quality is being undermined because too many carcasses cannot be conditioned on the bone for suitably long periods because their fat cover is too thin.

Consumer research also shows that the publicís outright hostility to visible fat has eased.

Beef farmers will face a more secure future if the public they sell to have more confidence in the eating quality of their product, said Mr Forster.

“We think it would be to the entire beef industrys advantage if more effort was made explaining to opinion formers and those at the centre of commercial meat movements that there are many types of fat – not all harmful in heart disease terms and that some may have positive health benefits,” he added.