Tantalising aromas of sizzling Aussie beef are sweeping Asia. With new insights into red meat’s nutritious benefits and a desire for all things western, demand for red meat is growing – particularly among the younger generation.

Story By Paula Heelan

On top of Australia’s firmly built reputation for clean, green and safe beef, we are now benefiting from Asia’s new desire for red meat. With regional managers based throughout Asia, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is spreading the red-meat health message via targeted online material, school programs, in-store materials and consumer seminars. Indications are that it’s working – beef eating in Asia is on the rise.
While countries such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia have different attitudes to eating beef compared to the more developed Japan and Korea, an interest in all things western is helping boost beef consumption, especially with the younger generation. MLA’s regional manager in Japan, Glen Feist, says while Japan’s older consumers are traditionally fish eaters, younger consumers are attracted to beef. “And with rising global concerns about health and well-being, especially with children (and never more so in Asia), the leaner Australian product is increasingly highly sought after,” Glen says. “This year, adding to our green, safe reputation strategy, we launched a major campaign based on the nutritional benefits of consuming beef, which is aimed at boosting consumption of Australian beef specifically.”
In Asia there is now a move towards identification of healthy eating on a scientific basis. Recognition of the benefits of leaner beef has worked in favour of Australian beef with its greater leanness compared to the heavy marbled Japanese beef.
Tapping into the trend towards consumption of healthy products has been key to boosting Australia’s beef industry. One of the ways to get the message across is through social-networking sites and MLA’s activities include online competitions that are drawing massive numbers of entries. “We meet regularly with Japan’s Consumer Association, which has 40 million members,” Glen says.
In Japan and Korea, seafood remains the number-one food product, followed by pork. Chicken and beef are about equal in levels of consumption. In Korea, beef is the preferred product. Glen says barbecue restaurants are favoured and at major gift-giving festivals the number-one gift is a box of beef with gift-pack prices ranging upward from $100. “They want to eat beef and the major thing holding them back is the economy,” he says. “I think Korea will be an increasingly strong market for Australian beef as Koreans love their beef and will increasingly be able to afford it.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #72

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2010