Beef loins (LL) stored under different chilled-then-frozen storage combinations (up to 5 and 52 weeks, respectively) and two frozen holding temperatures were evaluated for microbial load and meat quality parameters. We found holding temperature effects to be negligible, which suggest − 12 °C could deliver comparable quality LL to − 18 °C across these same storage periods. Meat quality parameters varied significantly, but when compared to existing consumer thresholds these may not be perceptible, colour being the exception which proved unacceptable, earlier into retail display when either chilled and subsequent frozen storage periods were increased. There was insufficient detection of key spoilage microbes to allow for statistical analysis, potentially due to the hygienic and commercially representative LL source, although variation in water activity, glycogen content, pH and other moisture parameters conducive to microbial proliferation were influenced by chilled-then-frozen storage. These outcomes could be applied to defining storage thresholds that assure beef quality within export networks, leveraging market access, and improving product management.