The Tajima Fullblood Wagyu has been crowned Australia's best steak in the nation's most prestigious branded beef competition as part of the RNA's Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show (RQFWS) in Brisbane.
The New South Wales Wagyu took out the champion title beating a high class field of record entries while New England Gold by Country Fresh Nationwide won the title of the nation's best lamb.
RQFWS chief judge Russell Smith said the standard of entries for the branded beef and lamb competitions highlighted industry trends towards a more uniform, tender and flavoursome product.
He said the New England Gold winning lamb nudged out other entries due to its above average flavour profile.
"The overall quality of the lamb exhibits was superb with the texture and feel outstanding," he said.
"This consistency of product quality is what the red meat industry has been striving for over the past decade," he said.
Mr Smith said the Tajima Fullblood Wagyu from Andrews Meat Industries displayed a beautiful balance between the fat marbling and the background flavour of the meat.
"It's a brilliant example of Wagyu for consumers who want to experience the best the breed has to offer," he said.
Andrews Meat Industries export manager Jeremy Stuart travelled from the company's Sydney base to accept the award, regarded as the pinnacle of branded beef accolades in Australia. A record 28 companies entered products across the classes this year, providing judges with 40 entries to taste across two days to ultimately award the best retail beef and lamb on the Australian market.
Not only did this year's Branded Beef competition boast Australia's largest number of entries, but it also introduced a new class for Wagyu, which separated beef based on the marble score, and a new trophy in recognition of the number of MSA brands.
Adding to the prestige of the champion title, the award-winning Tajima Fullblood Wagyu will also have the opportunity to feature on the menu of Brisbane's renowned Cha Cha Char Wine Bar and Grill restaurant.
Competition winners earn the right to display their gold, silver or bronze medal on product packaging, ensuring consumers know they are buying the best of the best in that product range.
A delighted Mr Stuart said the award couldn't have come at a better time as Andrews Meats begins a major shift in the marketing focus of their Wagyu products, which will see the Tajima brand dropped from the fullblood article.
"We currently market both our fullblood and crossbred Wagyu programs under the Tajima brand, however starting from next month the fullblood Wagyu program will be rebranded under the Shiro Kin Fullblood Wagyu brand," he said.
"The main reason for the re-branding is to avoid any confusion in the market place about our Wagyu programs and maintain the integrity that the programs have been built around."
Currently exporting to key destinations in Australia, Asia, North America and the Middle East, Andrews Meats works with specialised producers in a vertically-integrated model that allows the meat wholesaler to control the product literally from paddock to plate.
Mr Stuart said it has allowed the family company, established more than 50 years ago from a small butcher shop on Oxford St in Sydney, to acheive a self-sufficient supply chain of premium products from on-farm run programmes to the end customers of their client base ranging from hotels, clubs and restaurants to healthcare, airline, corporate and industrial contract caterers, as well as retail.
"Our marketing strategy over the past 15 years has focused on diversity of product, developing niche farming programs and brand ownership," Mr Stuart said.
"This has been achieved by establishing long term relationships with specialised producers and effective product placement with clients. Owning the brand and distribution process not only offers our clients high quality products with a point of differentiation, but also ensures a consistent supply chain from farm gate to the end user.
"Our main brands include Shiro Kin Full Blood Wagyu Beef, Tajima Crossbred Wagyu Beef, Grainge Grainfed Angus Beef, White River Veal, Byron Bay Berkshire Pork and Salami by Robert Marchetti
"All livestock produced under these programs are distinguished by their breed and the best practice farming techniques implemented on contract properties throughout NSW, Queensland and Victoria in which they are produced, and importantly where they are raised humanely."
Animals in the fullblood Wagyu program, to be marketed under the Shiro Kin label from next financial year come from AI and natural mating of Shimane and Kedaka fullblood females with Tajima fullblood sires.
HGP-free feeder cattle are entered into Macquarie Downs Feedlot for a minimum of 500 days on GMO-free rations before being processed between 400-450 kg at Northern Cooperative Meat Company, Casino, NSW in a halal accredited operation.
The RNA's chief judge Russell Smith said competitions like the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show Branded Beef and Branded Lamb assisted both Australian consumers and producers.
"Australians quintessentially love a barbeque so it's great to know what the best of the best is," he said.
"We also have quality farmers and producers in the industry who deserve to be rewarded and recognised for their excellence."
The hunt for the next two 'best of the best' continues with the Royal Queensland Wine Show and Sausage King Competition occurring in July as the RNA continues its quest to find Australia's best wine and Queensland's best sausage.
2012 RQFWS Branded Beef Winners
- AUSTRALIA'S BEST STEAK - The John Kilroy Cha Cha Char Champion Branded Beef of Show
- Tajima Fullblood Wagyu exhibited by Andrews Meat Industries from Lidcombe in New South Wales
- Champion MSA Graded (Non Wagyu) Branded Beef of Show
- Highland Park Grassfed Beef exhibited by Aldi Stores from Minchinbury in New South Wales
- Lend Lease Grain-Fed MSA Graded
- Gold: Stockyard Gold exhibited by Stockyard from Brisbane in Queensland.
- Silver: Drovers Pride exhibited by Australian Country Choice from Morningside in Queensland
- Bronze: Kimberley Red exhibited by Signature Beef from Clermont in Queensland
- Lend Lease Grass-Fed MSA Graded
- Gold: Highland Park Grassfed Beef exhibited by Aldi Stores from Minchinbury in New South Wales
- Silver: Manning Valley exhibited by Wingham Beef Exports from Wingham in New South Wales
- Bronze: Cape Grim Tasmanian Natural Beef exhibited by Greenham Tasmania from Melbourne in Victoria
- The Australian Wagyu Association Wagyu Class - AUSMEAT Marble Score 1 to 5 - MSA and Non MSA
- Gold: Darling Downs Wagyu exhibited by the Australian Agricultural Company from Brisbane in Queensland
- The Australian Wagyu Association Wagyu Class - AUSMEAT Marble Score 6+ - MSA and Non MSA
- Gold: Tajima Fullblood Wagyu exhibited by Andrews Meat Industries from Lidcombe in New South Wales
- Silver: Master Kobe exhibited by the Australian Agricultural Company from Brisbane in Queensland
- Bronze: Stockyard Black exhibited by Stockyard from Brisbane in Queensland
- ANZ Agribusiness Open Class - Non MSA and Organic
- Gold: Royal Beef exhibited by JBS Australia from Dinmore in Queensland
- Silver: Spring Grove Non MSA Australian Beef exhibited by Atron Enterprises from Wahroonga in New South Wales
- 2012 RQFWS Branded Lamb Winners
- AUSTRALIA'S BEST LAMB - Champion Branded Lamb of Show
- New England Gold exhibited by Country Fresh Nationwide from Newstead in Queensland
- Meat and Livestock Australia Branded Lamb MSA and Non MSA
- Gold: New England Gold exhibited by Country Fresh Nationwide from Newstead in Queensland
- Silver: Sovereign 5 Star exhibited by Sovereign 5 Star Lamb from Mansfield in Queensland
- Bronze: Tasmanian Royal exhibited by Melrose Wholesale Meats from Sherwood in Queensland