DENVER – A study analyzing differing techniques for dry aging US beef for international markets has been completed for the US Meat Export Federation by Oklahoma State University’s Department of Animal Science researchers. The Oklahoma Beef Council provided research funding.

“This is an outstanding example of applying research in the marketplace where it can benefit producers in Oklahoma and around the country,” said Brett Morris, chairman of the Oklahoma Beef Council board of directors. “The opportunity to expand markets for US beef by offering dry-aged product is an excellent use of producers’ Checkoff dollars.”

Headed by former OSU professor Dr. Brad Morgan, the OSU researchers analyzed four different techniques for dry-aging of beef: Wet aging in the US followed by exporting to the international market and dry aging in-market; wet aging in the US followed by dry aging in the US, freezing in the US and exporting; freezing in the US followed by export and dry aging in the international market; and wet aging in the US followed by dry aging in the US and wet aging while in transit to the international market.

The first three approaches all produced varied but acceptable results, while the fourth (wet aging in the US followed by dry aging in the US and wet aging while the product is in transit) had a higher risk of product spoilage, the study revealed.

Researchers measured the product based on expected eating quality, dry-aging yield, cut yield, cooking loss, moisture and fat content.

“This is very useful research for us to share with our export partners around the globe,” said Paul Clayton, USMEF’s senior vice president of export services. “As demand for dry-aged beef increases, the work that OSU researchers have done will help ensure that the quality of the product can be maintained during shipment across long distances and losses from the dry-aging process will be minimized.”

Oklahoma State University faculty members have worked extensively on industry issues in Asia, and they have reported receiving numerous inquiries regarding dry aging.

USMEF staff around the world have relayed growing interest in dry aging of beef, but the interest is strongest in Asia. “Dry aging has definitely created a high-end niche in the foodservice market in Korea,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF-South Korea director. “Top hotels and some steakhouses in the trendiest areas of Seoul have been major players with dry aging. It’s significant when we see them building their own dry-aging facility, showing their determination to sell dry-aged beef.”

While dry aging is typically a high-end niche market, dry aging is not limited to prime grade product, Yang noted. “I think Choice or High Choice grade beef also can make for a great-tasting but affordable dry-aged steak,” she said.

Dry aging also is becoming more sought after in Singapore, which is the culinary trend-setter for Southeast Asia, said Sabrina Yin, USMEF-ASEAN director.