Archive for Ostrich Meat

Animal Protein Consumption

Newsletter No. 39 - Item 4

The report discussed in our last post and referenced here discussed the increasing demand for animal protein that we have discussed in earlier news letters.

Quote:  The demand for meat and other animal based foods is largely related to income and consumer tastes and preferences.  Two fundamental trends affect demand for animal based products:

•    income growth
•    demographic changes

In developed countries, consumer tastes and preferences change, but total demand grows relatively slowly – see chart below. While the demand has shifted for specific products, total demand has grown at about the rate of population growth.

The changing demand for specific meat products results from concerns about diet and health, functional characteristics of products such as convenience, food safety, and perceived values associated with the place or techniques of production.  39fig1
More dynamic growth in demand for animal based protein results from the fact that incomes are rising in many developing economies with large populations. The rapid increase in per-capita income, particularly in China, has generated a significant increase in per-capita meat consumption. Similar income and consumption trends are occurring in India, Indonesia, Chile and other developing countries of Asia and Latin America.  End quote

Ostrich Meat Grading

Newsletter No. 36 – February 2006 Item 4

Many of our members have not attended conferences or training courses where the Grading system has been explained.  To develop a better understanding, this section will discuss the main points of the system and their relevance:

There are 5 Grades:  Prime, Choice, Select, Utility and Non-Food

Prime, Choice and Select Grade:
- Prime grade is the best quality meat and will carry the highest market value.
- Choice grade is a young cull breeder or bird held too long before slaughter. Some muscles will be less tender and lower value than Prime
- Select is a cull breeder of any age over 24 months.  Provided the breeder has been fed a good diet all her/his life - the meat will still be good tasting and a good colour.  It will be tougher and therefore carry a lower price than Prime or Choice

To qualify for the relevant Grade a bird must satisfy every definition.  The only difference with Prime, Choice and Select is bird age all other definitions are the same:

Bird Age - Prime
Definition: Less than 16 months.
Comment: As referenced above individual companies may choose to improve on this and only allow birds up to 300 days as their top grade to give additional competitive advantage.  Perhaps this can be called Prime Plus?

Bird Age - Choice
Definition:  16 to 24 months of age
Comment:  This category picks up birds that were not slaughtered prior to 16 months but still young enough to have some quality tender muscles

Bird Age - Select
Definition: 25 months of age and older
Comment:  This will be all cull breeders that have been well raised and meet all the other criteria laid down for this category

Fat Pan Colour:
Definition: White Fat Pan Colour only
Comment: Birds can produce fat from Pure White to very deep yellow colour.   Fat colour is a key indicator to bird health.  When yellow fat is present, very often other negative factors can be seen on the bird that will influence the overall taste and appearance of the meat. The picture below is the Japanese Beef Grading and has been published as part of the marketing by a number of companies producing Beef as part of their marketing program. This web site is one such company:   Note how they not only discuss fat marbling they also have this colour chart for Fat Colour and Meat Colour - Figure 1.   Ostrich fat is often seen very much more yellow that the lowest score given in this example.   In this example of the Japanese Beef Grading system the higher the grade the more desirable the meat and the fat and colour chart, the lower the score the more desirable.  The more desirable attributes will achieve the highest price.

Japanese Beef Grading

Figure 1 – Japanese Beef Grading

Ideally an Ostrich slaughter bird should carry a fat pan of approximately 32-35mm thick.  Too little fat is also a sign of malnutrition that can lead to variable tasting and poorly textured meat.

Muscle Colour:
Definition: Even red muscle colour throughout
Comment: Variable colour within the same muscle is a nutritional inadequacy and therefore controllable.  The most common known variable colouration in single muscles is White Muscle Disease.  If you ever see muscles of differing colour or some very pale or white muscle - corrective action needs to be taken.  Apart from the affect on bird health and therefore economic performance, consumers are influenced by the colour and appearance of meat.[4]   Muscle with the appearance of the Ostrich muscles in Figure 2 are not attractive to the consumer and commonly seen in our industry at this time.  During one presentation an ostrich meat processor informed me that meat looking like this photograph was all he ever saw, he believed it to be normal.  Meat from birds producing one or more muscles such as figure 2 will not qualify for Prime, Choice or Select Grade.

Multie Coloured Muscles

Figure 2 – Multi-Coloured Muscles

Heart Condition:
Definition: Heart of normal size, colour and texture, with no damage
Comment: A small heart, a heart surrounded by yellow fat, a heart that is a poor texture are all key indicators to malnutrition and it is commonly seen in ostrich today.

Liver Condition:
Definition: Mid-brown colour with no abscess/ulcerations
Comment: Many, if not all, slaughter plants that have slaughtered ostrich will be able to report extremely variable liver conditions - more variable than is commonly seen in mainstream livestock specie.  When any abnormality of the liver is seen, the bird must be downgraded.  The liver is a blood filtering organ and when the liver is not functioning to the optimum, there will be odd tastes in the meat.

Disease Condition:
Definition: No disease symptoms or evidence
Comment: This bird will be downgraded to Non-Food

Other Condition:
Definition: No Oedema or "jell" substance on heart, thigh or sternum
Comment: These conditions are also symptoms of mal-nutrition.  When mal-nutrition is present the meat will usually be more variable in colour, taste and texture.

Utility Grade:
A Utility grade bird will be any bird that does not meet the standards set out for Prime, Choice or Select grade, but is fit to eat.  The meat will be inconsistent in taste, colour and texture and this grade is to be discouraged for retail sales while our industry is working to establish a place in the market and achieve good prices.  Utility grade meat should only be used for further processing into value added products. The following are the definitions for Utility Grade.  A bird will be Utility grade if it has any one of the conditions referenced:

Bird Age: 
Definition: Any age of bird
Comment: When a bird has any of the conditions defined below, the meat is likely to be variable in flavour and less attractive to market due to darker meat colour.

Fat Pan Colour:
Definition: Yellow Fat Pan colour
Comment:  As referenced above, fat of a more yellow colour is a key indicator to the overall health of a bird.  Yellow fat also has a poor aroma that is indicative of the impurities in the fat.  Although Ostrich meat is sold free of fat, the presence of yellow fat on the carcass is an indicator of variable tasting meat of variable degree of tenderness.

Muscle Colour:
Definition: Multi-colouring of muscles (pink to dark red)
White colour areas in some muscle
Comment:  Multi-colouring is not attractive to the consumer and the meat will be variable in taste.

Heart Condition:
Definition: Small, damaged or spongy texture hearts
Comment:  A poor heart will be caused either by mal-nutrition or disease.

Liver Condition:
Yellow, Green or Black Colour
Liver abscesses or ulcerations
Comment:  All above definitions are key indicators to liver damage of some degree.  Livers unable to function adequately are unable to filter the blood adequate and may result in toxins and/or heavy metals remaining in the muscle and/or fat.  Depending on the severity of the damage, these conditions can result in off tasting meat and meat with a poor aroma.

Disease Condition:
Definition: No disease symptoms or evidence
Comment:  Disease can result in infection in the birds that may cross contaminate good meat and/or infection may be passed onto the consumer if the meat is not handled correctly.

Other Condition:
Definition: Oedema or "jell" substance on heart, thigh or sternum
Comment: These conditions are also symptoms of mal-nutrition.  When mal-nutrition is present the meat will usually be more variable in colour, taste and texture.

Non-Food Grade:
Non-Food is a polite way to say condemned carcasses that are not fit for human consumption.  A condemned bird will display one or more of the following conditions.

Bird Age:
Definition: Any Age of Bird

Muscle Colour:
Muscles with abscesses or channels in meat
Muscles with light or dark spots

Liver Condition:
Definition: Spotty or infected livers

Disease Condition:
Definition:  Any disease symptoms or evidence

The greater the number of members who utilise the grading system as part of their marketing program the greater the opportunities for all to benefit.  Clearly a membership fee of $100/annum cannot provide the funding required developing this, but through communication the membership can come up with a plan.

Ostrich Contributing to the Future Demand for Meat

Newsletter No. 30 – September 2005 Item 3

Global Meat Production by Type

Figure 1 - Global meat Production by Type. 2025 Projected

Figure 1 shows the production growth by specie since 1961. Figure 2 demonstrates the percentage of the total of each specie and shows very clearly the contribution of Pork and Poultry in this growth and the loss of market share experienced by the red meats Beef, Veal, Lamb and Mutton over the period.  Some of this loss of market share can be attributed to the advice to eat low fat meats; some of the loss of market share can be attributed to the lower feed efficiency of ruminants.  Ostrich produce a low fat, red meat and are proven, where reared correctly to be the most feed efficient of these red meat specie, with excellent feed conversion.

Type Percentage of Global Meat Production

Figure 2 - Type Percentage of Global Meat Production

What do these tonnages translate into numbers of Ostrich required to compete?

The additional meat production is quantified at 130 million metric tonnes;  14% from Beef, Veal, Lamb and Mutton, 43% from Pigmeat, 40% from poultry and 3% from other specie, which will include Goat, Fish and other alternative meats including Ostrich.   Note the reducing market share of the red meats.    It requires 28 million Ostrich Slaughter birds producing 45 kilograms of meat to produce just 1% of that additional 130 million metric tonnes required.

Systems to optimise the production potential of Ostrich and move away from the current very low productivity, high levels of chick mortality, low meat yields and delayed slaughter are essential to be able to meet this challenge.

Meat Quality

Newsletter No. 22 – January 2005 Item 4

The following is the opening statement of a document entitled "Factors Affecting Poultry Meat Quality" produced by Julie K. Northcutt a scientist from The University of Georgia:

Quote:  Before poultry meat quality is addressed, the term quality should be clearly defined as it relates to poultry. This is a difficult task, because quality is "in the eye of the beholder." For example, someone trying to sell a product might view its quality in terms of how well it sells and how much people are willing to pay for it.  However, this definition is incomplete, because it does not consider the product's character. Since people only buy what they like, the consumer's perspective of quality is more appropriate. When consumers buy a poultry product, cook and serve it to their families, they expect it to look, taste, and feel good in their mouth. If these characteristics do not meet the consumer's expectation, the product is considered to be of lower quality.

Whether or not a poultry product meets the consumer's expectations depends upon the conditions surrounding various stages in the bird's development from the fertilized egg through production and processing to consumption. end Quote

Figure 1  defines different aspects of food products that determine quality.

Figure 1 - Defining Aspects Influencing Meat Quality

The author goes on to discuss only Appearance, Texture and Flavour in this particular paper.   She interprets Appearance as Colour and Texture as Tenderness.   Figure 2 is a diagrammatic interpretation of Flavour perceptions.

Figure 2 - Flavour Perceptions (Adapted from Lawless 1991)

All readers I am sure will agree that the aspects discussed are identical for any meat product, it is only the characteristics unique to each specie that will differ.  The WOA Meat committee has already produced a document "Factors Influencing Meat Quality".  One of the many research projects that will be undertaken as part of the research and development projects will be more clearly defining the areas in these diagrams as they apply to ostrich.

For example, under appearance colour is known to be most important.  With Ostrich we currently suffer from meat that is very dark, from meat that can be white (white muscle disease) and from muscles that are often multi-coloured.  All of these things are very controllable with the right production methods, yet over the years I have heard producers, processors and marketers state that these things are normal.  I have listened to a  perceived expert at an Ostrich conference tell the audience that it is normal for the meat to darken very quickly on oxidation.   These negative aspects are controllable in all specie as they are symptoms of a poor diet, correct the diet and the symptoms disappear..

Common sense suggests that a piece of meat that is a good even colour, not too dark and brightens on oxidation is going to be far more attractive to the customer than meat that is either dark in colour, blackens on oxidation and/or may have unevenness of colour within the muscle.   As this paper states, production methods are an important part of the quality control/marketing program of all our products.

Attention to the detail of all these aspects are one step required to enhance the REVENUE and therefore profitability

New Year New Initiatives

Newsletter No. 22 – January 2005 Item 3

On the subject of development of our Association, last month we discussed the fact that the competition for our industry lies not within each other, but rather the other specie supplying the meat and leather markets.   One member of the South African industry hired a professional Market Research company to assess the meat marketing opportunities in Europe.  The clear message that came back was their opinion that the industry had made a very big mistake when it opened up from 1994.  Meat was treated as a commodity and sold via traders.  The very low volume of current production operating in a market place of increasing globalisation, has made it most difficult for any single operation to make the transition from breeder market to commercial production.

A professional Market Research company hired by SUSTA (Southern United States Trade Association - to do market research for the US ratite industry produced a report in 1997.  A quote from the summary of that report:

6.2 Recommendations to the Ratite Industry:

6.2.1 Overall

- Be more ORGANIZED generally in the USA before it expects too much effect promoting exports.

- Bring down costs for both Ostrich leather and Ratite Meat through undertaking research:

* into feeding and rearing regimes
* into improved breeding methods
* ways to improve meat yields and egg fertility

- Combine together to establish and set QUALITY STANDARDS

- Conduct more research into the effectiveness of Emu Oil

- Participate and exhibit in relevant trade shows end quote

This document was discussing all Ratites, but the principles apply to each specie as each have their own unique qualities and I am sure all are agreed must not be marketed together.  However, while our industries are developing there are similarities that need to be understood in the market place to ensure each specie can take their individual place in the market place.

So, what is the solution?

In their ongoing determination to support the industry and understanding of the industry, your directors and Blue Mountain have been discussing solutions.  They believe that a commercial company be formed that is affiliated to the WOA to undertake the Marketing of the industry products on a global scale.   At the same time this company will also fund the Research and Development the industry needs to enable the Ostrich Industry to compete with the other protein producing agri-processing industries.

The suggested name for this company is ‘World Ostrich Marketing, Research and Development Company’ (WOMRAD)

This global company would invite participants from all around the world to invest in the infrastructure required to market their products on an international scale.  This company would have the benefits of economies of scale and the resources to identify and develop new markets.  All the suppliers from wherever in the world they are operating would receive the same price for their produce.  In addition all suppliers would benefit directly from the results of the research and development, training and many other areas of support.

Blue Mountain and your directors will continue to work on this idea in an effort to guide the industry in the right direction and are discussing it in detail to see if such a commercial enterprise could be dovetailed into the WOA whilst retaining the principals of this organisation.    .

In the interim, the directors invite everyone to give some thought to this idea and consider whether they think their own business could benefit from belonging to such an enterprise.  The basis of the proposal is outlined in The Blue Mountain "Review of 2004".