“Australian cows are happy cows,” said Natasha Monks, trade commissioner of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, as she happily dug into the Thai beef salad served at New World Hotel Makati, one of the several stops in this year’s Australian grass-fed beef “culinary trail.”
“About 97 percent of cattle in Australia is grass-fed. One cow is allocated an entire hectare of land to graze,” she said.
Australia exported 74 percent of its total beef and veal production to 84 countries. It was the world’s largest beef exporter in 2015, accounting for around 3 percent of the world cattle and buffalo inventory, with India, Brazil and China taking the top three places.
As of last year, Australia accounted for 40 percent of the Philippines’ total beef imports, or 37.76 million kilograms out of 93.72 million kg, data from the Bureau of Animal Industry showed.
Monks said the volume was expected to increase this year as Australia sought to export more premium cut meat to the Philippines.
“Australian beef is gaining more popularity because of it is of premium quality, safe and traceable. Our export volume is going up. For the Philippines, manufactured products such as patties, sausages and meatballs comprise the bulk of imported beef from Australia,” she said.
“Australian grass-fed beef is considered the healthier beef as it is naturally low in fat and cholesterol while offering a high level of Omega 3 fatty acids known to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of certain cancers. It is not as marbled as corn-fed or grain-fed beef, which is sweeter. It tastes the way real beef should taste,” she said.
For this year’s “Australian Grassfed Beef on the Menu” promotion, the embassy teamed up with 60 hotels and restaurants across Luzon, Cebu and Davao.
Participating restaurants and hotels include Cafe 1228 in New World Makati; Red Ginger and Crystal Dragon in City of Dreams; Flame and Gilarmi Lounge in Discovery Primea; Raging Bull in Shangri-la The Fort; Blackbird; Bondi & Bourke; Chef Jessie Top of the City; Epicurious; Pink’s; Dean & Deluca; Green Pastures; Abuela’s; Papa Diddi’s; Prime 101; and Vask Tapas Room.
According to Paul Perez, consultant of the Meat and Livestock Australia, every major premium restaurant in the country carries one or two cuts of Australian grass-fed beef.
More local restaurants are also now offering a wide range of meat options, from restaurant grade cuts to hamburger patties and corned beef.
“We at MLA also work closely with various associations of chefs, restaurateurs and high-end groceries. We give trainings on how to avoid mishandling the beef, especially since we are a tropical country and the meat can become stale if mishandled,” Perez said.
Cafe 1228 executive chef Robert Davis said there was a marked difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef.
“Grass-fed cattle is very natural, well-adapted, chemical-free and hormone-free. It can be a little chewy but that is the way beef should be – it should have a little chew, a little bite to it,” he said.
“I am sure if Australian cattle can speak English, they would say how happy they are, up until their last day at least,” Davis said in jest.