New attitudes, products and processes are making headway in the red meat sector as a result of programmes that are working to add a potential additional, and sustainable, $1.5 billion a year to current returns by 2025.
The Ministry for Primary Industries latest Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) Annual Report for 2017-2018 was released recently. This details progress made in all of the remaining 15 PGPs, which include the five for the red meat sector in which MPI is partnered with: FoodPlus led by ANZCO Foods Ltd; Marbled Grass-fed Beef led by First Light Foods and Brownrigg Agriculture; Omega Lamb, led by Alliance Group and Headwaters NZ; Passion2Profit led by Deer Industry NZ/NZ Deer Farmers Association with Alliance Group, Duncan NZ, First Light Foods, Mountain River Venison and Silver Fern Farms; and the Red Meat Profit Partnership with Alliance Group, ANZ Bank, B+LNZ Ltd; Blue Sky Meats, Greenlea Premier Meats, Progressive Meats, Rabobank and Silver Fern Farms. A sixth project led by Silver Fern Farms, FarmIQ, concluded in June 2017.
The largest of these is the $64 million RMPP, now five years into its seven-year programme in collaboration with six meat processing companies, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and two banks. This is aiming to drive sustainable productivity improvements to deliver higher on-farm profitability in the sheep and beef sector. In the last year, the annual report shows, this has seen the launch of a new Action Network of farmer-led action groups, the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme that is now being used by 15 meat processing companies, electronic Animal Status Declarations, DataLinker, Understanding your Farming business for farming women, online learning modules, KPIs and a Future Focus programme, amongst other things.
Finding high-value streams from its current red meat supply was the goal behind the FoodPlus programme, which is due for completion next year. FoodPlus has developed new retail meat products, alongside lucrative pet-food products extracting extra value from various previously low-value co-products. A high-value product has been extracted from meat plant waste streams in a new FoodPlus developed process, which recovers protein in the process. A new full-scale plant for that is nearing completion, alongside a purpose-built clean room facility for health products requiring highly controlled environments. Research has also been done on serum products.
High-quality, naturally-produced grass-fed Wagyu Beef is now produced all year around on 350 farms throughout New Zealand, thanks to the marbled grass-fed beef PGP which is now in its sixth year and heading for conclusion next year. Retail sales of the product have increased significantly in the US and New Zealand for meat company First Light Foods.
After only three years, a new type of Omega-3-rich lamb is already available from Alliance Group in a new approach to naturally breeding, raising, processing and mar
keting premium New Zealand Lamb to a range of markets. Omega Lamb breeding and production programmes are now in place, in-plant quality measurements have been developed and market development has been progressed to market the product in various countries, including Germany, Dubai, Australia and southern New Zealand, and to develop a range of branded consumer-ready products.
Another three-year-old PGP programme, Passion2Profit (P2P), aims to grow and capturing the full value of New Zealand farm-raised venison through positioning it as a premium non-seasonal meat, lifting productivity and better aligning supply and demand. Collaborative market development has seen the development of a Summer Cervena programme selling the product to European chefs during the summer season. In addition, there are now twenty-five Advance Parties in existence, helping producers of around 25 percent of the country’s deer to farm more profitably and show others how to do it too, new fact-sheets have been produced and a new Deer Annual Health Review and Environmental Management Code of Practice have been produced. The result is a significant increase in the use of key management practices and increase numbers wanting to increase herd numbers.
The PGP programme as a whole was reviewed in mid-2018. Writing in the foreword of the annual report, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said it was found to be a worthwhile public investment. However, it was also found that demand from larger applicants had tailed off, there had been consistent under-spending and a long-term strategy was needed.
The PGP has now been combined with the Sustainable Farming Fund to make the Sustainable Farming Futures Fund – a single gateway for farmers and growers to help the primary sectors move more quickly in value-added – which will replace the PGP, O’Connor explains.
From this point, SFF Futures will strategically grow New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors, placing more emphasis on the environment and value to New Zealand. Existing PGP and SFF projects will continue. It aligns with the work of the Primary Sector Council, which is looking at opportunities for the sector and helping to direct a strategic path for each sector.
The Investment Advisory Panel chair, John Parker, said the IAP was pleased to see SFF Futures will retain important parts of the PGP, as these have proven to be an effective formula for primary industry innovation,” he said. The IAP will continue its advisory and monitoring role.
For a cost of a combined industry/government average spend of $26.6 million a year on the five projects over seven years, the sector stands to sustainably earn over $1.5 billion a year by 2025.
Not a bad return, if it all progresses as expected.