Countdown supermarkets plan to double their angus-branded beef programme within five years.
The programme between the supermarket chain and angus farmers, in a group set up by Te Mania principal Tim Wilding, started small with 20 head of purebred angus cattle a week in 2007 before expanding to about 200, including 40 from the South Island.
The meat range sells under the Finest Angus brand.
Countdown merchandise general manager Murray Johnston said the programme had increased to a stage the supermarket company believed it was the largest processor of New Zealand- consumed purebred angus in retailing.
He said the supermarket had insisted on purebred angus to give the brand a point of difference, with an emphasis on meat quality.
"We said we would start off slow and Tim hasn't wavered and we haven't wavered.
This year we will process 10,000 head of pure angus in our business.
We believe we can double these volumes again in five years, probably in three years."
He said the meat range had quickly found favour among shoppers and grown in scale because of attention to quality and consistency of supply.
The partnership between Countdown and Wilding, who runs a large sire-producing operation at Conway Flats, south of Kaikoura, extended to angus farmers under the Farmpure Countdown producer group.
The supermarkets provide a range of chilled products from angus mince and burgers to top cuts.
Countdown has just invested $200,000 in a new online livestock database with information from electronic chips in cattle eartags fed back to a central system.
Johnston said part of the attraction of the partnership was a supermarket could source meat from the farm and its in-house livestock buying team could deal closely with farmers and bring them closer to the market by providing them feedback on shoppers' needs.
"We are setting ourselves up for the future by understanding where everything comes from. We are setting a standard unsurpassed except for five-star restaurants."
Countdown chiefly works with Te Mania and farmers connected to its sire programme as well as sourcing directly with other angus producers.
The supermarket chain pays its farmers a premium above the meat schedule in exchange for them following strict quality and production guidelines, including set weights for cattle.
Johnston said angus beef was the most recognisable market brand for beef-bred cattle in the world and this was being assisted in New Zealand by the angus industry pushing the breed's profile.
Ad Feedback It received a boost by the decision by burger chain McDonalds to provide angus burgers made from 75 per cent angus meat.
Johnston said Countdown provided other meat selections from other breeds, but was not prepared to compromise its angus programme, which would only come from purebred angus heifers and steers.
He said most shoppers bought products based on prices in supermarkets, but Countdown was committed to quality.
North Island angus beef supplied to Countdown goes through a meat ageing, storage and delivery system in Auckland at FoodCap, a company with a strong farmer shareholding.
Meat in the automated storage system is placed in large cases, reducing cardboard and plastic packaging, cutting labour and removing packaging odours linked with meat ageing.
Back to News Headlines