INCREASED demand and a better price for beef are among the top targets for 2012-15 for Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), according to managing director Scott Hansen.
Now 12 months into the job, Mr Hansen says one of the key goals for MLA the next three years will be to increase consumer demand for beef through compelling marketing campaigns encompassing eating quality, enjoyment and nutrition.
The red meat body's research suggested that for beef producers the cost-price squeeze would continue to leak revenue from their enterprises, so gains had to be made elsewhere.
"While the outlook on the horizon looks bright on the demand side, with an increase in population around the globe and increasing prosperity, that increase in population with more money isn't just bidding for more beef," he said.
"They're bidding for all the other resources they require from oil, labour and natural resources that are driving up the input prices for our production."
He said a large focus for MLA was on finding ways to increase productivity to keep ahead of that cost-price squeeze and to do it by finding ways that didn't require significant capital or labour input.
"We're going to have a big focus on ensuring we hit the same kind of runs that we hit for our lamb marketing campaigns for our beef here in the domestic market and we think MSA (Meat Standards Australia) has provided the platform for us to do that collectively in our industry and for us to support private brands in their endeavours in MSA four and five star activities," he said.
Mr Hansen said Meat Standards Australia (MSA) would play an increasingly important role in marketing.
"It's been a great step forward in past 12 months with the country's largest retailer Woolworths, picking up MSA with not only beef, but for its lamb products as well."
This provided MSA with a significant boost not only for demand, but with exposure and the opportunity to launch a consumer awareness campaign with the benefits of MSA grading, he said.
"We've tried to keep it as simple as we can and that is that MSA is a mark that supports a claim around eating quality for store or private beef brands."
Mr Hansen said the MSA program had a great response from its television education campaign, using the What's New format, which has raised awareness from 15pc to 40pc, helped also by Woolworths' uptake.
"MSA as a tool has got to provide the opportunity for brands... to further differentiate their eating quality attributes in their endeavour to seek more of the consumers' dollars as they offer a better experience."
"We're looking forward to this next year providing more opportunities and for us to see more four and five star branded products emerging across the domestic market place."
Mr Hansen said MLA had approved $6.2m for domestic market advertising of beef in 2012-13, which has started with the existing winter meals campaign, but would see a big summer barbecue campaign kick-off later in the year.
He said the challenge for beef was it was the market's leading protein, with about 40pc of supermarket shelf space as opposed to lamb's 14pc.
There was also a focus to have beef on the dinner table several times a week, so was a different challenge to lamb in making sure it was repetitively included in meals.
However, MLA still planned to launch attention-grabbing campaigns, which had started with billboards in major cities and bus stop advertising which emitted beef barbecue odours to encourage potential shoppers to buy beef on their way home from work.
"As commuters are queuing up for their buses they're not only seeing the ads, but also getting a sensory hit of beef barbecue," Mr Hansen said.
This is part of an integrated multi-media approach which ties in with in-store advertising such as the Entice magazine.
This initiative is expected to provide an increasing link between the uptake of MSA and an ability to educate consumers on which cuts to use for which dishes, he said.
With MSA already integrated into Woolworths, the opportunity also existed to further differentiate between three, four and five star cuts and charge accordingly.
"It's an exciting next couple of steps for those who have already embraced MSA," he said.
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