Major boost for meat industry science

An $8.7 million collaborative meat industry research and innovation programme is underway, following a recent announcement.

The Meat Industry Research Innovation Partnership, led by the Meat Industry Association (MIA), has been successful in gaining Government investment of $4.35 million over seven years to match industry funding on a one-to-one basis.

Tim Ritchie, chief executive, MIA.Industry calculations suggest that the Partnership’s work will increase exports by at least $75 million a year by 2020 and will mitigate significant risks to the industry, according to MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie.

The Partnership will be managed by MIA Holdings Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the MIA, and the science programme supported by the research providers AgResearch, ESR and Carne Technologies.

“The Partnership is an important part of achieving the industry-agreed Red Meat Sector Strategy, through ensuring that research and development is being taken up quickly by as much of the industry as possible,” Ritchie explains, adding that it is intended to fill a critical gap in existing meat sector research and science, which has been primarily focused on on-farm solutions and not at innovations in red meat processing.

Four current projects, which have already received an investment of $1.4 million from industry, are initially included in the research programme to build on the existing science and to help implement these solutions as quickly as possible.

Research will include new work on ways to extend the quality and shelf-life of chilled meat exports in response to the increased use of slow-steaming by shipping companies. Food safety is also an important focus of the programme, ensuring the meat industry has mitigations in place to handle both known and emerging pathogens, including groundbreaking work into countering STEC7 (E.coli H7:O157 and its six relatives) and Salmonella at source with bacteriophages (see FoodNZ October/November 2014).

The programme will also look at creating new value-added products out of existing products and converting meat and bone meal into food for aquaculture. While providing solutions directly applicable for industry, the research programme will also tackle a number of fundamental science challenges and support PhD studentships in meat science and engineering, plus mentoring of those students.

The research partnership was one of four to receive a total of $15 million funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Biological Industries Research Fund. The other three are being led by Pastoral Genomics Ltd, Pipfruit New Zealand and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Making the announcement Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said: “The investments will enhance industry involvement and collaboration on strategic research and improve the performance of key parts of our primary industries leading to increased exports.”

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

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