New model for meat industry research collaboration

MIA Annual Report 2014A new model for collaborative meat industry research and development is being developed by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The work that has been undertaken during the year to develop the new model is outlined in the MIA’s recently released annual report for 2013-2014.

The goal of the new model is to establish a sustainable long-term mechanism for supporting collaborative industry research.

The Meat Industry Research and Innovation Fund (MIRIF) has a proposed budget of $1.5 million a year, which would be funded 50:50 by Government and industry.

The MIRIF funds will be used to help complete some existing research projects and also to develop new science that will benefit the whole of industry, increasing knowledge and capability in the processing sector around four key themes. These are increasing value for existing products, for example extending shelf-life of lamb; improving productivity through projects such as inverted beef dressing; developing new high-value products from low-value products; and safer food.

The MIRIF partnership application is currently being assessed by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The annual report also outlines the progress that has been made by the Ovine Automation Consortium (OAC) during the year, noting that a number of technologies have been developed to the stage that they are now close to commercialisation, including a y-cutter, an auto brisket roller, an auto leg roller and a combined leg and brisket roller.

Other technologies that were further progressed by the consortium during the year included an ultra-sonic knife, a belly rip-down tool and forequarter clearing technology.

The annual report, which comprehensively outlines the trade association’s work during the past year, also refers to the “astounding rise of China”. This, it says, contributed to a much more positive 2013-2014 for the red meat sector, compared to the year earlier.

However, while China was very important, it was only one of over 120 markets New Zealand meat is exported to around the world, MIA chairman Bill Falconer and chief executive Tim Ritchie note in the foreword.

Other positive developments for the industry included the recovery in trade to Indonesia, where import quota restrictions had previously significantly restricted trade and the entry into force of the economic co-operation agreement with Taiwan.

Enhancing market access remains a priority for the meat industry, according to the report, with the MIA’s members being concerned about the lack of conclusion in free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Korea, in particular, and also the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“The MIA continues to maintain that if the TPP is to have any benefit at all to New Zealand, then trade barriers to meat imports, particularly in Japan, will have to come down.”

Health and safety, biosecurity and immigration have been other significant areas of work for MIA staff this year.

In the report’s foreword, Falconer and Ritchie highlight the promising activity that has been taking place in the sector, particularly with regard to innovation and new technologies, such as the OAC and the various red meat sector primary growth partnerships. They note that these investments have the potential to revolutionise the way the sector behaves, but caution that it takes time for major innovation projects to bear fruit.

Highlights from 2013-2014

The MIA Annual Report notes that the red meat sector:

  • Was New Zealand’s second largest merchandise exporter
  • Exported to more than 120 countries
  • Earned export revenues of more than $6.5 billion
  • Exported 402,661 tonnes of sheepmeat worth $2.97 billion
  • Exported 379,885 tonnes of beef and veal worth $2.2 billion
  • Exported $1.4 billion worth of co-products, including edible offal
  • Welcomed the Economic Cooperation Agreement between New Zealand and Taiwan
  • Sent a delegation of red meat export leaders to China

A copy of the MIA Annual Report for 2013-2014 can be downloaded at www.mia.co.nz.

This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (October/November 2014) and is reproduced here with permission.

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