Meat industry PGPs starting to bear fruit

Food PlusNew high earning blood and bio-tissue products, from the previously lower-value parts of the carcase, are among the early fruits from one of the New Zealand meat industry’s four Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes

The $87 million FoodPlus programme – a joint 50:50 programme between ANZCO Foods and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)  is now coming up to the end of its second full year, out of the planned seven.

ANZCO Foods chief executive food and solutions Rennie Davidson explains, in MPI’s latest Agri-Gate newsletter, that ANZCO is focusing on developing new innovative foods, ingredients and healthcare products.

“It’s about improving the value of the carcase to secure a more viable future for the meat industry and maximising important food and revenue opportunities,” he says, adding that the company is looking at meals, protein supplements, stocks, broths, extracts, seasoning oils and medical and surgical products.

The first year saw ANZCO researching the variability of the raw material and identifying product opportunities and increasing its understanding of each of the areas. The second successful year has seen the commercialisation of some products, such as bio-tissues and concentrated liquid beef stock.

Blood products leapfrogged ahead of schedule

Outside the PGP programme, ANZCO bought a 50 percent share in an established Melbourne-based biotechnology company Bovogen, which has had the effect of leapfrogging ANZCO’s blood products project well ahead of schedule.

ANZCO business development manager Steve Cartwright, who is responsible for the meat processor’s healthcare programme, says the company found Bovogen was already making some of the products FoodPlus was aspiring to make by year seven.

“Developing this important strategic alliance so early in the programme helped us to get straight into the business and to start looking out further towards 2025.”

Bovogen researches, manufactures and supplies highly purified animal proteins, enzymes and animal serum products to the global pharmaceutical, diagnostics and life science communities. It sources raw materials from only Australian or New Zealand abattoirs, US Department of Agriculture and EU approved establishments or donor animal herds. Complete traceability of animal by-product origin with manufacturing under strict Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) conditions enables Bovogen’s products to meet the high quality standards.

“Bovogen has a core range of products that services customers in diagnostics, vaccine manufacture and biotechnology,” says Cartwright. “Originally Bovogen’s core customer base was North America and Australia and we’re increasing the focus in Asia, Europe and the USA.”

First commercialised bio-tissue product

The first product commercialised under the FoodPlus bio-tissues programme is already being used in medical devices in North America.

Bio-tissues from recovered animal parts are being used in surgical and medical applications including heart valves, stent covers, surgical devices and dural patches.

“The first stage of this project involved developing expertise around harvesting pre-processing and transporting sensitive tissues, to meet customer expectations. Getting fresh tissue to North American customers with 72 hours of it being harvested in New Zealand is very involved,” says Cartwright.

“We’re not the first people to supply these types of bio-tissue products but its new for a meat company to be doing it on this scale. It’s the first stage of a much larger programme.”

There are now about 10 people directly employed by ANZCO in the FoodPlus projects.

Opening of the ANZCO Innovation Centre in the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University.ANZCO Foods opened a food innovation facility at Lincoln University to support the Foodplus programme late last year.

ANZCO Foods is one of New Zealand’s largest exporters with a turnover of $1.3 billion a year. It procures and processes beef and lamb, designs sophisticated food and healthcare solutions and markets its products in more than 80 countries.

Four meat industry PGP programmes are currently underway with Government and industry co-investing $325 million with estimated benefits from the programmes of $1.1 billion a year for the industry by 2025. The programmes are ANZCO’s Foodplus, the marbled grass-fed Wagyu Beef programme, the Red Meat Profit Partnership and FarmIQ.

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