Continued focus on innovation for the meat industry

MIA 2015 Annual ReportA continuing focus on innovation and collaboration and strong growth for beef were highlights of the red meat processors’ 2014-2015 year, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA)’s latest annual report.

The report, which covers work in the year to end June 2015, shows that innovation continued to be an important focus of work for the MIA, recognising its importance for ensuring growth and the continued success of the red meat sector.

Examples of this collaborative work include the Meat Industry Research and Development Coordination Forum, comprising the MIA, processors, research providers and Government. During the year, the Forum developed and agreed on a new Red Meat Sector Research and Development Strategy that has a vision to “create a responsive, collaborative environment that will foster smart investment in innovative, world leading R&D to advance the capability, sustainability, integrity and productivity of the New Zealand red meat processing sector”.

Chilled lambA new brochure for international audiences explaining how New Zealand produces safe, high quality chilled lamb was produced in 2014-2015, funded by the industry’s Meat Industry Initiative Fund (MIIF). Following a request from MIA, MIIF funds have been enhanced by an increased levy of 1.5 cents per lamb equivalent for slaughtered animals for export (see FoodNZ, June/July 2015). This is part of the industry’s contribution to Animal Products Act-related research co-funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in the MIA Innovation research programme (formerly known as the Meat Industry Research Innovation Partnership).

The seven-year $8.7 million MIA Innovation programme started in mid-2015. Work, funded jointly by industry and MBIE, includes continued investment in existing R&D, such as lamb quality and colour, but also new opportunities for the sector including the development of novel packaging technologies, work to mitigate risk from E.coli H7:O157 and its six relatives and salmonella. Several PhD meat science and engineering studentships are also supported by the programme.

The 2014/15 year was the final year of the six year Ovine Automation Consortium programme. During the year, the consortium obtained a one year extension from MBIE to pursue commercial outcomes. Two commercialised systems , for auto evisceration and brisket cutting, are to be installed at the Alliance Group’s Smithfield processing plant.

“Collaboration is happening where it should”

MIA chairman Bill Falconer and chief executive Tim Ritchie comment in the foreword that they are pleased to see many of the themes identified in the Red Meat Sector Strategy five years ago, are being adopted, especially in individual companies’ Primary Growth Partnership programmes and the Red Meat Profit Partnership, led by Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd.

“Collaboration is happening where it should – in greater vertical integration of the value chain, in which through selective contract procurement arrangements, farmers are linked to customer demand,” they say.

Beef, the standout feature for 2014-2015

The “standout feature” for the 2014-2015 export year, the report notes, was the increase in the value and volume of beef exports, in particular to the US and China, as a result of strong global demand. This produced a 36 percent increase in value to $2.98 billion and 11 percent in volume for the year. However, restrictions on beef imports into Indonesia remained a concern for industry, at the time of writing.

Exports of sheepmeat declined by six percent in volume to 378,208 tonnes, however the fall in value was only two percent to $2.91 billion. The largest individual market for sheepmeat was China, with 132,898 tonnes, worth $672 million exported to the market, followed by the UK which received 64,736 tonnes worth $552 million.

Work continued during the year on strengthening the relationship between the New Zealand meat industry and its Chinese counterparts at the ‘whole of industry’ level. MIA hosted a delegation led by the China Meat Association (CMA) and during the visit the MIA and CMA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation between the two organisations. Earlier in the year MIA signed another MoU with the China Chamber of Commerce for Native Products. A further New Zealand delegation will be off to China later this year.

With the conclusion of the Korea-NZ free trade agreement during the year, the report notes the meat industry’s keenness to see the successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This potentially offers significant market access improvements in traditionally protectionist markets like Japan and the US. It might also provide a vehicle to gain acceptance of New Zealand’s regulatory guarantees for food safety and biosecurity, note Falconer and Ritchie.

A copy of the MIA’s 2014-2015 Annual Report can be downloaded at

This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (October/November 2015) and is reproduced here with permission.



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