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Assessing impacts of organic production on pork and beef quality

Sundrum, Albert (2010) Assessing impacts of organic production on pork and beef quality. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, 5 (004), pp. 1-13.

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Organic livestock farming is based on a low input production method, aiming to provide products of a high product and process quality rather than maximizing production. The production of a high meat quality corresponds to the expectations of consumers who are both seeking a premium product and who are willing to pay premium prices. This review focuses on the question of whether organic pork and beef production currently meet consumer demands, and it elaborates the potentials and limitations for producing high-quality meats under the current organic framework.
Although defined by specific and basic guidelines, organic livestock production is characterised by largely heterogeneous farming conditions that allow for huge differences in the availability of nutrient resources, the implementation of feeding regimes, and the use of genotypes etc, all of which variously impact meat production. Correspondingly, there is substantial variation in the quality of organic meat entering the marketplace. According to the available literature, the quality of organic pork and beef provide inconsistent results and often fell short of expectations as it is often similar to the quality of conventionally produced meat. Obviously, organic guidelines play a minor role with respect to meat quality.
On the other hand, there is evidence that less intensified production systems may present suitable preconditions that would yield meats of high eating quality assumed that the relevant pre- and post-farmgate factors are considered and balanced within quality assurance systems. However, the trade value of carcasses is determined primarily by lean meat and cuts composition while qualitative traits of meat are of no relevance. Neither does continuous recording of qualitative traits take place nor is an outstanding meat quality rewarded by higher prices. Of the various parameters, the intramuscular fat is highly related to palatability traits in both pork and beef and could be used to distinguish between different levels of eating quality.
Despite the fact that many consumers express their wish for high quality meats, the payment and marketing systems counteract all efforts to follow consumer demands and fail to communicate adequately differentiated meat-palatability. It is concluded that only a direct assessment of qualitative traits and a payment system that honours meat quality grades beyond average can contribute to improve the currently unsatisfying situation. This, however, requires a shift in the paradigm from a guideline oriented to an output oriented approach, and the implementation of a systematic approach for an effective and efficient balancing of the multiple variables and complex interactions within each farming system.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:eating quality, production method, output orientation, system approach, marketing
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Animal husbandry
Research affiliation: Germany > University of Kassel > Department of Animal Nutrition and Animal Health
Deposited By: Hoischen-Taubner, Susanne
ID Code:18462
Deposited On:06 Apr 2011 13:20
Last Modified:06 Apr 2011 13:20
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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