Since the previous audit in 2010/2011, the number of Canadian cattle grading AAA significantly increased which has supported the growth of branded beef programs in retail and the restaurant sector.
Table 1: Changes in percentage of A grades from 2010/2011 to 2016/2017. Data source Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA).
Yield grade performance has decreased over the same time period. Due to the increase in fat cover, fewer cattle are meeting the yield class 1 designation. In fed cattle, the cost to industry from discounts on yield grades has increased from $12.57/head or $32 million in 2010/11 to $12.81/head or $33 million in 2016/17.
The average steer carcass rate has increased from 857 lbs in 2010/2011 to 982 lbs in 2017. Larger carcass sizes present challenges because larger muscle sizes require steaks to be cut thinner to fit portion sizes on restaurant menus. Since 1975, carcasses have increased 7 lbs annually.
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The ultimate goal is to continue to produce high marbling carcasses and maintain lean meat yield even at heavier carcasses. It is well known that marbling is the last fat to be deposited and has a positive effect on the eating quality of some cuts. However, there is a time-based relationship between muscle and fat deposition and fat will continue to accumulate without increases in muscle at higher live weights. The ideal carcass would be one that meets both a high quality and yield grade, for example Canada Prime or AAA and a Y1 yield grade.
Table 2: Carcasses meeting the AAA/Y1 grade in 2016/2017 compared to 2010/2011. Data source CBGA.
- Beef Quality Audits overview
- Download National Beef Quality Audit – 2016/17 Plant Carcass Audit (PDF)
- Download National Beef Quality Audit – Benchmarking Progress (PDF)
- Download National Beef Quality Audit – 2014-18 Retail Beef Satisfaction (PDF)
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