This journey started in the 1990’s when the Australian industry identified the need to change from being 'production' driven to ‘consumer’ focused as the key underlying driver of innovation and business value into the next century.
This aligned with the development of a grading system for beef based on consumer value - Meat Standards Australia (MSA). As project leader of the MSA Pathways Team Rod led the development of consumer testing methodology and sample collection from a wide range of Australian production systems.
In 2000, based on data from sensory testing of over 85,000 consumers and 590,000 beef samples the Meat Standards Australia grading system – a Cuts x Cooking Style Based Eating Quality prediction model - was launched to industry.
In 2002 Rod, with his partner Judy, was the first to implement a ‘whole of supply chain’ branded beef model based on eating quality principles. Under the Polkinghorne brand they developed a system for branded beef production, processing and retailing.
This system included deboning, retail cut fabrication, cooked meal production and 'paddock to plate' retail beef concept stores in Melbourne, Australia. This whole of supply chain enterprise produced eating quality outcomes with new results-based description of products.
Rod went on to develop an integrated supply chain using best practice identified by new MSA research, IT systems & software to track individual cuts & run inventory (which adjusted for quality score changes with aging x cut) and a store ordering system for retail products identified by cut x cooking method x quality (not by cut).
This resulted in full carcass utilization through a cooked meal range and a value based payment for cattle based on the retail price. These principles and systems have since been adapted for larger commercial application.
Birkenwood International has worked with industry programs and companies in Poland, France, Ireland, the USA and New Zealand. We have
run eating quality research trials and bench-marking studies to provide strategic assessment of EQ based opportunities and to develop tailored solutions to optimize cut harvesting and brand revenues.
We continue to work with key international research organisations to develop global standards for consumer testing and grading methodologies within a United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) framework. We are co-founders of a collaborative global Eating Quality DataBANK to deliver consistent eating quality to beef consumers around the world.