Next generation claims ‘steak’ in red meat industry

10 July 2024
AuctionsPlus was fortunate enough to have three of our market operators attending the conference as representatives of their respective universities.  (L-R) Emma Spinks, Jamil Azeem and Zoe Puls. Pic: Supplied. 
An article by  Alex McLaughlin

AuctionsPlus staff tested their skills against some of the best in the red meat business at the 2024 Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association (ICMJ) National Conference last week.

Market Operators Zoe Puls, representing Charles Sturt University, Jamil Azeem, University of Sydney and Emma Spinks, University of Queensland, soaked up the week of learning, networking and competition, which was hosted by CSU in Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Ms Puls is one of our staff members at AuctionsPlus’ newly opened Wagga Wagga office, and we’re pleased to report she brought home two ribbons from the annual event.

She has grown up on a sheep production property, both wool and meat, but was always more interested in the lamb side of operations.

“I’ve always been a part of the farm from joining to putting our lambs on the truck and never seeing the other parts to the lamb supply chain,” Ms Puls said.

“ICMJ offered me to opportunity to go into abattoirs, meet others in other livestock meat supply chains and see where our lambs go after the truck.”

Ms Puls placed fourth in the pork judging (both primal and carcass categories), securing fourth place overall out of more than 100 students. She also achieved the highest individual result for CSU.


She believes ICMJ highlighted the future for the meat industry in Australia the pivotal roles it plays in local communities and for the economy.


“We had many speakers that told us current insights to their sectors and offered advice for those graduating and wanting to be in the meat industry,” Ms Puls said.

icmj_jamilAuctionsPlus' Jamil Azeem represented the University of Sydney at the ICMJ event. Pic: Supplied.

Mr Azeem, who is based in the Sydney office, said the competition was recommended to him by some colleagues who had previously attended.

“I got into meat judging due to my love of livestock and I feel it is important to see how the product we produce so well is graded and how we can use this grading system to our advantage as producers to hit those key market specifications,” he said.

Mr Azeem said the highlights from the experience were in the networking opportunities with like-minded individuals as connections he’ll keep throughout his career in the industry, as well as establishing connections with industry leaders and sponsors.

“Another highlight was touring the facilities at Teys Wagga Wagga & GMP and connecting with the sponsors and industry professionals at the conference,” he said.

Online Market Operator Emma Spinks represented the University of Queensland, who’s team placed second overall for the third year in a row.

Ms Spinks was encouraged to participate in the competition by others in her cohort who had previously been a part of the program and spoke of the fond memories and opportunities the program provided.

She said the event facilitated an excellent opportunity for networking with people on an international perspective as well as learning from distinguished industry professionals.

"The teams representing the United States and Japan were incredibly impressive. It was wonderful to see the next generation of red meat enthusiasts on an international level," Ms Spinks said.

The Clarendon College team from Texas, USA took out the top position as the 2024 ICMJ National Champions, with the University of Queensland placing second for the third year in a row.

Clarendon took out four of the six competition categories including pork judging, beef judging and commercial evaluation.

The Japan National team also took home some ribbons, winning the Overall Questions category, with Hokkaido University student Momo Sato achieving the highest individual score in the lamb judging competition. 

The five-day conference program also included seminars and presentations from industry leaders, Q&A panels, interactive carcase workshops, a careers expo and social events, bringing together university students from across the globe to showcase careers and inspire future professionals in the meat industry.

ICMJ is a non-profit association that aims to inspire and develop the next generation of global meat industry professionals.

The association aims to provide students with skills, networking opportunities and expertise to build a career in the meat industry. More than 3,500 people have taken part in the program over its 35-year history.

ICMJ President Dr Peter McGilchrist said the event helps inspire and develop the next generation of global meat industry professionals.


“The ICMJ National Conference is a unique event that provides students with an in-depth understanding of the industry supply chain, its future direction and the enormous career opportunities it provides,” he said.


“Many current leaders in the meat industry have been through the ICMJ program and it’s wonderful to see them come back to where it all started and share their experiences and insights with the next generation.

“We’re very honoured to welcome international teams like Clarendon College and the Japan National team and it’s very impressive to see how well they performed in the Australian environment.

“All of the competitors put in such an outstanding effort across the competition and it’s been a fantastic end to the ICMJ National Conference.”

The top 16 individuals in the competition were narrowed down to a team of 11 who will go on to another ICMJ event later this year where they’ll take part in further professional development opportunities and industry tours.

They’ll be joined by a second group of students selected for their leadership skills, dedication, and their potential to have a positive impact on the red meat industry.


News that inspires, educates and celebrates life and work in regional Australia.