Leading meat processor and exporters Alliance Group is showcasing its operations to farmers from the UK this week following encouraging sales at customer Sainsbury’s over the crucial Christmas period.
Four farmers supplying UK retail giant Sainsbury’s are visiting Alliance Group plants, farms and a leading research centre this week as part of the two-week exchange. They will be accompanied by representatives from Sainsbury’s UK processors Randall Parker Foods and Dunbia Group.
Along with visits to supplier farms in Southland and Balclutha, the delegation will tour the Woodlands Research Centre where some of the Central Progeny Tests take place. Now funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd, the tests are used to ‘prove’ the genetics of a ram by comparing how his progeny perform relative to progeny from other rams under the same conditions.
The co-operative’s largest sheepmeat processing plant at Lorneville near Invercargill and the Pukeuri plant near Oamaru are on the itinerary, as are AbacusBio, the Dunedin-based company behind Alliance Group’s innovative Hoofprint programme, and Port Otago.
Alliance Group is the major supplier of New Zealand lamb to Sainsbury’s through its UK marketing company, New Zealand Farmers Ltd. The co-operative supplies up to 70 per cent of Sainsbury’s lamb requirements.
Over the important five-week Christmas period, Sainsbury’s lamb leg sales were up nine per cent by value year on year.
Murray Brown, general manager of marketing at Alliance Group, said the visit was a good opportunity for Sainsbury’s suppliers to see first-hand the processing of New Zealand sheepmeat before it is shipped to the UK.
“We enjoy a close partnership with Sainsbury’s and this visit will enable their suppliers to gain a valuable understanding of our lamb production systems and our quality assurance programmes
“The timing is also fitting given that we have just completed one of our key selling periods for quality in-season chilled lamb to the UK where there were some encouraging sales figures.”
The company was jointly hosting the delegation with processor AFFCO, said Brown.
“This reflects our commitment to collaborating with other companies in the industry in line with the Red Meat Sector Strategy report.”