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24.11.2015

Putting the Pure in Angus

Over  the past 15 years, people have become convinced of the superiority of the AngusPure brand. So convinced that 20,000 cattle are slaughtered annually and McDonald's has sold more than three million kilograms of AngusPure mince, the brand's co-owner says.

Guy Sargent told St George's School's Young Business Enterprise Programme last week that the whole idea was to make Angus meat a premier cut rather than a mere commodity.

While Mr Sargent owns half of the brand, Angus breeders own the other half.

The Angus New Zealand office is in Feilding and has a staff of two. The rest of the work is done by people working elsewhere in the meat industry.

"We have purposely avoided having layers of management and owning land and machinery," Mr Sargent said.

AngusPure farmers, processors and distributors are all licensed and pay 2.5 per cent to the brand.

In turn, AngusPure audits those who are licensed, to ensure the brand's integrity.

So, what is AngusPure?

Mr Sargent said the meat was at least 75 per cent from the Aberdeen Angus cattle breed.

The cattle lived outdoors and fed on grass - or grass-based supplements if such feed was needed in harsh winter climates.

And the meat was from steers or heifers, not cows or bulls.

The cattle were not fed hormone growth promoters and the meat was graded prime and aged for at least 21 days.

One Aberdeen Angus bull and three cows were brought to Southland from Scotland in 1863, with the New Zealand breed developing from there.

In the North Island, the breed is the most popular in Hawke's Bay.

Sixty per cent of beef cattle in New Zealand are now Angus or Angus crosses.

Mr Sargent said the main feature of Angus meat was the flecking of fat among the muscle.

"That's what gives the meat taste and juiciness."

In the lower North Island, the cattle are processed at Land Meat and distributed by Chef's Choice.

Further north, the processing is done in Otahuhu, by Wilson Hellaby, and in the South Island, the cattle are processed at meatworks owned by Silver Fern Farms.

The meat is sold in restaurants and in supermarkets in the New Zealand-owned Foodstuffs grocery group - especially in New World supermarkets.

A little goes to Hong Kong, and Mr Sargent has recently looked at other Asian markets.

But he said product going to China would have to be frozen, which was off-putting.

"We don't see ourselves being a frozen product. The reality is we're probably going to focus more on New Zealand.

"There are still opportunities to get into more Foodstuffs stores."

Steaks make up about 20 per cent of the meat from a cattle beast. Selling the rest of it at premium prices is another goal and has been helped by McDonald's buying the mince for its Angus burgers.

A former farmer whose family farm is at Opiki, south of Palmerston North, Mr Sargent was the first in New Zealand to import embryos to transplant into New Zealand animals in an effort to improve genetics.

"When other people started doing it too my focus moved to specialising in one particular breed," he said.

- Wanganui Chronicle