Australia's beef industry markets its tenderness

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BRISBANE -- Australia's beef industry has pledged to try a little tenderness by guaranteeing customers their money back through a marketing scheme endorsed by retailers from supermarkets to family butchers. It claims the guarantee program is a world first "in the quest for consistent meat quality".

David Crombie, head of the meat industry committee that developed the scheme, says the "tenderness guarantee" beef will go on sale wearing one of three "Meat Standards Australia" labels.

A three-star rating means a "superior" cut of good-quality, tender beef; four- stars means a "premium" beef of succulent quality; while the top-of-the-range five stars puts the beef in "gourmet" class.

Customers pay more for their preferred cuts than they would for unlabelled beef but can demand a refund from the retailer or complain via a toll-free 1800 number if the tenderness is not evident.

The scheme, says Mr. Crombie, was developed after "years of work" by top industry groups with 150 supermarkets, butchers' shops and restaurants in the Brisbane area initially taking part. More than 20,000 customers were involved in taste-testing.

If successful after Brisbane trials, the scheme will be extended throughout Australia and into export markets. An ad campaign is still being developed.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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