Over the last 20 years Swiss company Hofmann Nutrition AG has developed and implemented a prime quality meat system (QUALIVO) integrating real sustainability. It starts to gain importance. Jürg Hofmann, the company’s owner answers our questions.
What brought you to create your premium meat label QUALIVO and when did you start this project?
It was in 1995. That time, from my perspective of specialty feed manufacturer and consumer, I could not find in the market the type of meat I’d like to eat. I could find many brands and labels but none of them really satisfied me. Therefore, I initiated the QUALIVO project as I wanted to produce the most tender and good tasting meat. And that’s what QUALIVO is today.
What makes then QUALIVO to be so different from other meat labels?
It’s in the feed. QUALIVO feeding makes a remarkable difference of the meat enjoyment on the plate! Through feeding we influence the meat taste and tenderness.
How do you succeed influencing meat taste through the animal diets?
Trough excellent feeding: Hay and Qualivo feed ad libitum for beef and veal, selected raw materials for Qualivo pigs. And nothing else. Formulations of Qualivo feed are clearly specified and stipulated in the system. Qualivo feed contains natural HOKOVIT-micronutrients helping cattle to strengthen their immune system, regulate the digestion process, control their stress reactions, improve performance, carcasse and meat quality.
What are Micronutrients exactly, how can they influence the immune system? What is the relationship between micronutrients and meat quality?
These are special yeast extracts, plant extracts, herbs, special fatty acids, polypeptides, colostrum and toxin binders, all of natural sources. The result of our research and development over the last 4 decades. HOKOVIT’s micronutrients enhance the immune system and improve the metabolism of the animals. Thus, much less treatments and medication is needed. No hormones, other chemical growth promoters or nutritive antibiotics are needed in QUALIVO fattening as feed conversion and growth are remarkably improved by HOKOVIT’s natural micronutrients. With these micronutrients the animals are healthy, in good shape, calm and very well performing. The result is an outstanding tender and excellent tasting meat. The natural micronutrients allow to produce antibiotic and drug free meat.
Why only hay is allowed and you’re not using grass or silage?
Contrary to common belief, among producers, consumers and butchers, it is not animals that are fattened outdoors that exhibit the best meat qualities. Cattle fed exclusively on grass often yield meat with a so-called "grassy flavor". The fat of animals fattened outdoors, compared to those fed on grain, contains more volatile compounds that create a less popular flavor. As well, feeding a lot of grass or grass silage results in yellowish fat, which consumers do not like. As such, hay is better for fattening animals than grass. Hay gives the animals more structured crude fiber, ideal for ruminants. But also when grass is dried, the carotene content (yellow color) is reduced. Accordingly, grass or silage is not allowed in connection with Qualivo fattening, but only hay as roughage feed.
How is the QUALIVO business seen from the economic perspective?
Famers get a better price as they produce better meat. But, not only farmers profit of a better price and margin for this premium meat, but butchers, shops and restaurant also get better prices and achieve more margin for the added values they can claim.
What kind of breeds do you use and how is animal husbandry?
As feeding decides what’s on the plate, you can fatten with Qualivo feed all breeds of animals. The most common husbandry for Qualivo beef and veal is the so called 3-surfaces-stable with a resting area with straw bed, a hard surface with hay, feed trough, water station and controlled open range. Qualivo pigs also have access to a controlled open range.
You say Qualivo is premium and sustainable. Why?
Qualivo feeding can be made without soya. There is no need to cut rainforests for Qualivo production. Soya can be economically replaced in Qualivo diets with other sources of vegetable proteins and/or by-products of feed and food production.
The perfectly equilibrated feed and intensive fattening protects the environment.If ruminants are fed not only grass, silage or other roughage, but an intensive and well balanced diet like in Qualivo feeding, their rearing and farming will also become more climate-friendly. More intensive and equilibrated feeding improves feed conversion and growth and therefore optimizes also feed and land utilization. Thus, if farmers around the world were to add grain to the feed of their livestock, and control the grazing of their animals better, that is, switch to more productive systems with reduced land use, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 23 % by 2030.This is the verdict of a study that was done under the supervision of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and published in the U.S. scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Qualivo is a premium meat because it is produced with animal welfare in a traceable and controlled production system.The outstanding feed quality makes a real difference on the plate, e.g. an outstanding regularity and sensory eating quality. Very tender and good tasting without any chemical tricks during fattening of the animals or processing and stocking of the meat.
Where is QUALIVO produced and sold?
Today QUALIVO is produced in Switzerland, Germany and the CzechRepublic. We produce and market QUALIVO beef and in addition QUALIVO veal and QUALIVOpork under this premium label.
In these three countries, consumers can buy or eat our meat in butcheries, wholesaler shops and restaurants.
Why do butchers and cooks want to have QUALIVO as premium meat? How do you gain their loyalty to the product?
It’s hard to get a better or equal product on the market and it’s even harder to get the same regularity and standard of quality. This regularity of the meat is achieved by strictly the same feeding and the equal slaughter age of the QUALIVO animals. The success on gaining our customers loyalty is on achieving the highest degree of meat quality and its standardization. This means the customer receives the same prime quality in tenderness, taste, color and structure of the meat from purchase to purchase. Those ever same characteristics a veritable label product must have.
What can you offer to interested producers, butchers and the trade?
I believe, sustainable meat production and to improve the quality and the image of meat is crucial, today. We believe to have found with Qualivo honest, thoughtful and sustainable, worldwide easy to operate system for high quality meat production. This we can offer as a licensor to others.