When it comes to beef, there are many factors to consider – texture, flavor, accessibility, price, and level of breeding difficulty.
But which country produces the best quality beef?
Many foodies believe that Australia is the top contender, with its sunny climate and stunning national parks providing the perfect environment for producing fine Aussie lamb and beef meat.
However, others argue that the best beef in the world comes from Finland, as proven by their consecutive wins in the World Steak Challenge.
With hundreds of entries from over 20 countries every year, this competition is a true test of quality.
So, which country truly has the best quality beef?
Let’s dive in and find out.
Which Country Has The Best Quality Beef?
After analyzing various factors such as texture, flavor, accessibility, price, and level of breeding difficulty, it’s clear that Finland produces the best quality beef in the world.
The World Steak Challenge, an event where steak producers from different countries bring their best cuts to be judged by a panel of veteran judges, has consistently awarded Finland with the top prize for two consecutive years. This competition attracts entries from over 20 countries every year and is a true test of quality.
But what makes Finnish beef so special?
One factor is the breed of cattle used. Finnish beef comes from four different types of Japanese cattle, known for their high-quality meat. Additionally, Finnish beef is grass-fed, which contributes to its unique flavor and tenderness.
Another factor is the rigorous standards set by Finnish farmers and producers. They prioritize animal welfare and sustainable farming practices, resulting in high-quality meat that is both ethical and delicious.
While Australia may have a reputation for producing top-quality meat, it’s clear that Finland has proven itself as a competitive titleholder in the world of beef production.
What Makes Quality Beef?
When it comes to determining the quality of beef, several factors come into play. One crucial aspect is the initial breeding process, including genetics, breeding environment, diet, and how the cattle are treated during breeding. The quality of meat also depends on the level of marbling, which refers to the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean. Graders evaluate the amount and distribution of marbling in the ribeye muscle at the cut surface after the carcass has been ribbed between the 12th and 13th ribs.
Another critical factor is how and where the cattle are raised. Ethical and sustainable farming practices prioritize animal welfare and contribute to high-quality meat that is both ethical and delicious. Grass-fed beef is known for its unique flavor and tenderness, making it a popular choice among beef lovers.
The cuts of meat used to produce beef jerky must also be lean to achieve superior quality. The beef used in jerky production should be up to 97% fat-free, requiring more expensive cuts of meat to achieve.
Finally, the use of high-quality ingredients such as spices, flavorings, and marinades can make a significant difference in the quality of beef products. Cheaper, lower quality spices and flavorings sourced from a lower quality vendor can result in less fresh and vibrant ingredients that produce less flavorful and robust products.
Australia’s Beef Industry
Australia is known for its strong agricultural sector, which naturally makes it one of the largest beef exporters in the world. In fact, Australia’s total exported beef was worth $4.1 billion in 2021, making it the third-largest beef exporter globally. The country also boasts several large cattle stations and big beef production companies such as the Australian Agricultural Company Limited and North Australian Pastoral Company.
Australia produces some of the highest quality beef in the world, thanks in part to Meat & Livestock Australia’s Meat Standards Australia (MSA) program. This program is designed to support the country’s agricultural industry in producing quality beef and provide consumers with information about where they can find quality meat. All MSA graded beef is labeled with an eating quality grade based on almost 800,000 taste tests by more than 114,000 consumers from 11 countries. This rating system ensures that excellent quality of beef is maintained from paddock to plate.
One of the biggest reasons for Australia’s high-quality beef is the type of feed the cattle are raised on. While all cattle are grass-fed at first, there comes a point when they either remain grass-fed or are switched to a grain diet. In Australia, the vast majority of cattle are grass-fed, which contributes to their unique flavor and tenderness. In contrast, in the US, cattle tend to be grain-fed, mostly on corn and soy. This feeding regime leads to beef that has a consistently buttery flavor and mouthfeel. Although grass-fed beef is available in the US, it tends to be a by-product of the dairy and beef production system and is of variable quality, usually ending up in hamburgers.
Australia’s predominantly grass-fed cattle are raised and fattened exclusively on pasture. When Australian cattle are grain-fed, it’s primarily on barley and wheat instead of corn and soy. This difference in feeding regimes contributes to the unique taste and texture of Australian beef.
In addition to feeding practices, Australian farmers and producers also prioritize animal welfare and sustainable farming practices. This commitment to ethical farming practices results in high-quality meat that is both delicious and environmentally friendly.
Finland’s Beef Industry
The Finnish beef industry is known for its sustainable and ethical farming practices. Unlike many other countries, Finland has never had large-scale commercialized farming, which has allowed for more attention to be paid to the quality of the meat produced.
Finnish beef production is one of the most low-carbon in the world, with half the global average water requirement. Finnish farmers prioritize animal welfare and sustainable farming practices, which translates into high-quality meat that is both ethical and delicious.
The breed of cattle used in Finnish beef production is also a contributing factor to its unique flavor and tenderness. Finnish beef comes from four different types of Japanese cattle, known for their high-quality meat. These breeds are carefully selected for their ability to thrive in Finland’s colder climate.
The World Steak Challenge
The World Steak Challenge is an annual event that showcases the best cuts of steak from around the world. The competition is judged by a panel of over 60 independent experts, who judge the steaks based on factors such as texture, flavor, and overall quality. The event attracts entries from over 20 countries every year, making it a true test of quality on an international scale.
The competition features three categories: fillet, ribeye, and sirloin. Any steak that meets the proper standards is awarded a medal (Gold, Silver, or Bronze) in its respective category. In addition to these medals, six “World’s Best” awards are given out, including a World’s Best for each of the three categories, a World’s Best Grain-Fed and Grass-Fed, and an overall World’s Best Steak.
The World Steak Challenge has seen some surprising winners in recent years. In 2022, Japan’s Starzen Co. took home three of the six “World’s Best” awards, including the coveted overall World’s Best Steak award. This was the first time that a Japanese producer had entered the competition.
The World Steak Challenge is not only a celebration of high-quality steak but also a testament to the global nature of the beef industry. The competition showcases the best cuts from countries around the world, highlighting the diverse range of flavors and textures that can be found in beef from different regions.
Comparing The Quality Of Australian And Finnish Beef
When it comes to comparing the quality of Australian and Finnish beef, it’s important to consider various factors that contribute to the taste and texture of the meat.
Firstly, Australian beef is known for its marbling, which is the fat content within the meat that contributes to its tenderness and flavor. However, this can vary depending on the specific breed of cattle and how they are raised.
On the other hand, Finnish beef is known for its grass-fed nature, which gives it a unique flavor profile. The grass-fed diet also contributes to the tenderness of the meat.
In terms of breeding, both countries have strict regulations in place to ensure high-quality meat production. However, Finnish beef is bred from Japanese cattle known for their high-quality meat, while Australian beef is often a cross between Japanese wagyu and other breeds.
When it comes to accessibility and price, Australian beef may be more widely available and affordable compared to Finnish beef due to differences in production and distribution.
Other Countries With Notable Beef Industries
Aside from Finland, there are other countries that have notable beef industries. One of these is Argentina, which is known for its grass-fed beef and unique beef cuts. The country has a long history of cattle production, dating back to the arrival of cows with the Conquistadors in 1536. Today, Argentina is considered a mecca for meat-lovers, with many claiming that it has the best steak in the world.
The United States is also a major player in the beef industry, with cattle production accounting for a large share of total cash receipts for agricultural commodities. The U.S. is unique in that it has developed a beef industry that is largely separate from its dairy sector. It is also the world’s largest consumer of beef, primarily high-value, grain-fed beef.
Brazil is another country with a notable beef industry, producing millions of tons of beef annually. The country has a large cattle herd and is forecast to produce over 10 million tons of beef by 2021. The European Union is also a significant producer of beef and veal, with three member states (France, Germany, and Italy) accounting for half of the EU’s beef production.