Ebor Beef Inc. is a large group of prime grass-fed beef producers from Ebor and surrounding districts. We talk to Sam and Jules Ditchfield, who are responsible for the marketing of Ebor Beef Inc.
> Tell us about Ebor Beef Inc.
Ebor Beef Inc. was established in 1993 by a group of prime beef producers from the renowned Ebor district. Ebor has some of the richest and most productive cattle grazing country in Australia, enabling the producers to supply premium grass-fed cattle to many varied markets.
Today, the group includes 90 members, mostly from the New England region but extending beyond. Together with some of the original members, there are many 2nd and 3rd generation producers, as well as new innovative farmers adopting best management practices, including the establishment of high performance pastures and advanced animal husbandry.
These members share a commitment to produce top quality grass-fed cattle, with some producers seeing them through to the final delivered product.
Ebor Beef Inc. includes a committee board of 10 members. The current President is Lock Rogers, a beef producer from ‘Dyamberin’ Wollomombi.
> What is your connection to Ebor Beef?
We are employed by Ebor Beef Inc. to do the marketing for the 90 members. The range of services we offer members include livestock marketing (either direct to the processors, feedlots and other producers in NSW, Queensland and Victoria) and marketing of cattle via Auctionsplus.
We aim to put groups of members’ cattle together to gain a market advantage from the volume of cattle, and to make freight cost-effective. We can also sell members’ cattle through the Armidale sale yards. Additionally, we purchase cattle for members from a wide network of contacts throughout the east coast.
We send out a Weekly Market Sheet outlining the current week’s indicative price quotes, predictive comments, stock for sale and additional information relevant to the members. This might include upcoming bull sales, meetings, industry information and news regarding the branded product or marketing opportunities.
> Does Ebor Beef host special events?
Yes. We have just hosted a very successful Steakholders’ Forum at the Armidale Town Hall. Professor Ian Plimer, author of the much talked-about book ‘Heaven + Earth’, spoke about his theories on climate change. Climate change supporters, skeptics and fence-sitters all crowded the hall as the rain poured down outside.
Ebor Beef Inc. also provides professional development opportunities for their members, such as seminars with leading industry speakers, feedlot tours such as a recent trip to Caroona Feedlot and field days held on the members’ properties.
> What is the branded product concept?
This branded product has only been established in the last three months. With the support of a marketing team in Brisbane, Jules has been designing the promotional material that accompanies the branded product.
Basically, there was public interest into the accessibility of a local grass-fed beef product. Consumers seem to be becoming much more conscious of their food’s origins, handling and carbon miles.
We are in the unique position to be able to provide a premium grass-fed product that is produced locally, processed under 300km away and supplied back to the local customers.
The product is MSA graded. This is a tenderness guaranteed grading program that labels beef with a grade based on eating quality. All beef underpinned by the MSA guarantee has met strict criteria to ensure it meets consumer expectations for tenderness, juiciness and flavour. This criteria begins on-farm, with nutrition and growth, handling and transport being important elements contributing to eating quality.
For example, leading up to processing, cattle must be handled in a manner that keeps stress to a minimum. Cattle are required to be loaded at the recommended densities set out in the trucking code of practice, without the use of electric prodders.
> Where can readers purchase the Ebor Beef branded product?
Leading butcher ‘The Meating Place’ in the Coles complex is Armidale’s Ebor Beef outlet, currently stocking Cube Rolls (Scotch Fillet) and rumps. The fillets range in weight between 2-3kg and 3kg+. Soon there will also be half fillets available. Owner Scott Fittler is able to slice the fillets to your requirements.
Peterson’s Winery of Armidale has introduced Ebor Beef Scotch Fillet onto their summer lunch menu. Bottega Caffe of Armidale prepares a divine Ebor Beef Steak sandwich. Rafters of Guyra also include Ebor Beef on their gourmet menu. They have made the grass-fed product their specialty dish, to dine on the traditional way.
The product can also be purchased in Dorrigo at SPAR and at Atelier Gourmet Grocer in Bellingen. Our aim is to keep the distribution area around the local district, offering a consistent supply.
> What sets Ebor Beef apart?
Firstly, it is the only local grass-fed beef product available in Armidale. Secondly, as more people become conscious of carbon miles and a product’s authenticity, it is reassuring to be able to read or be told by the waiter/waitress about the product’s story – its origins and quality control guarantee. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it tastes amazing!
Having been an avid vegetarian for many years (much to the amusement of business partners in the beef industry!), I (Jules) am a tough critic when it comes to meat. If I choose to eat beef, I would only choose something tender and flavoursome – that would definitely be Ebor Beef! Personal experience with Bottega’s Steak sandwich backs up my theory!
> Membership of the Ebor Beef group?
If a cattle producer is interested in becoming involved in Ebor Beef, they can contact us. We would send them a Marketing Pack that includes all the relevant information and forms to complete. This pack is in both electronic and paper form. Sam would then arrange to meet with the producer to discuss their preferred marketing methods and options. They will automatically begin receiving the Weekly Market Sheet and all other relevant information throughout the week.
“Ebor Beef membership is great value for beef producers looking to make substantial savings on their marketing costs and gain access to many markets through Sam’s extensive industry contacts and experience.” Lock Rogers, President Ebor Beef Inc.
Anyone interested in becoming a member or just interested in the concept can contact Sam or Jules, (office: 02 6772 3152) or visit the website www.eborbeef.com.au