The perception of healthiness and/or safety, tenderness, juiciness and aroma or flavour are important quality criteria that influence the decision of a consumer to purchase beef. Beef production systems represent the combined and interacting effects of genotype, gender, age at slaughter and nutrition before slaughter. The present paper highlights recent information on how beef production systems can be modified to enhance the tenderness, flavour and healthiness of beef. Carcass management post-slaughter has a larger effect on meat tenderness than gender, genotype or feeding systems. Optimum ‘pasture to plate’ management systems are being established to ensure beef tenderness. The chemistry underlying beef flavour is complex, with in excess of 140 components identified in cooked beef volatiles. Flavour of beef is influenced by cattle diet, but assessment of flavour by a taste panel is subject to the previous experiences and preferences of the panellists. Modern lean beef can have an intramuscular fat concentration of 25–50 g/kg and can be considered a low-fat food. As the quantity of grass in the diet of cattle is increased, there is a decrease in saturated fatty acid concentration, and an increase in the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid and conjugated linoleic acid concentrations. It is concluded that there is opportunity to exploit the diet of cattle to produce tender flavoursome beef that has an increased conjugated linoleic acid concentration, a lower fat concentration and a fatty acid profile more compatible with current human dietary recommendations.