Lamb Processing

Top Australian intercollegiate lamb judge sees big US potential

Sheep Central, May 4, 2020

The Australian 2020 Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging team.

Australian 2020 ICMJ team member Claire Marriott

AUSTRALIA’S top performing intercollegiate lamb meat judge sees potential for increased high quality exports to the United States.

University of New England graduate Claire Marriott was a member of the 2020 Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ) team.

She was awarded second highest individual score in the lamb section at the US National Western meat judging competition in January and saw potential opportunities ahead for Australian lamb producers.

“I noticed the meat preferences of American consumers, in terms of species preference, was vastly different to that of consumers in Australia.

“It was evident that Americans do not yet share our love of lamb and it was interesting to see the lack of fresh lamb on supermarket shelves and the number of people who simply didn’t know how to cook it,” Ms Marriott said.

“As millennials become more adventurous with their eating choices and the US national sheep flock continues to decline, I believe an opportunity may exist for Australia to supply the US with higher-quality volumes of lamb in the future.”

The 2019 UNE graduate said networking events on the tour allowed her to contrast the differing production systems, meat supply chains and consumer preferences for meat as a protein source.

The tour, aimed to enthuse and educate future industry leaders, is sponsored by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC), and has been undertaken by more than 130 students over 26 years.

This year’s ICMJ US tour spanned four weeks, seven states, two inter-collegiate competitions and more than 50 industry experiences, exposing participants to the broad spectrum of the US red meat supply chain.

Ms Marriott said Australian producers were ahead of the curve when it came to operating production systems that allow better access to specific markets. This is due to our national livestock traceability system, and the ability to supply products such as “grass-fed” and “hormone-free”, she said.

“During the tour, there appeared to be little demand for ‘grass-fed’ or ‘hormone-free’ beef products in the US.

“This is contrary to many trends in Australia and across Europe, where consumers are seeking a more ‘natural’ product and producers are supplying it,” she said.

“If US consumers begin to seek out more hormone-free product, for example, Australian producers are in a good position to help supply some of the demand as that’s already an established part of the market here.”

Ms Marriott said the experience gained through ICMJ has set her up for an exciting career in the red meat industry, having recently commenced a Graduate position with the Australian Agricultural Company.

“The ICMJ program has cemented my passion for the red meat industry. I would highly recommend attending ICMJ events to any university student with an interest in agriculture or the red meat supply chain.”

Ms Marriott’s full report, and those of the other US tour attendees, are available at:


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