Meat industry looking to the future

Future directions in New Zealand meat research were under the microscope in two recent industry research workshops in Hamilton.

The attentive audience at the annual event.
The attentive audience at the annual AgResearch event.

A record-breaking 80 delegates were welcomed to Ruakura’s McMeekan Centre by AgResearch research director Dr Warren McNabb on 18 March for the annual AgResearch Meat Industry Workshop.

Organisers AgResearch senior scientist in food assurance and meat quality Dr Mustafa Farouk and research engineer Robert Kemp are delighted with the attendance.

“The day went well with good interaction between all the stakeholders attending the workshop,” reports Farouk, adding that the feedback was positive with most attendees planning to return next year.

The first session – ‘Future Technologies’ – featured a presentation from the Meat Industry Association (MIA)’s innovation programme manager Richard McColl. He talked about the industry’s issues and drivers and future meat industry aims and research projects covered in the new Meat Industry Research Innovation Fund (MIRIF) Partnership (see FoodNZ February/March 2015) as research work gets underway in that programme this month He also referred to achievements made in the Ovine Automation Consortium’s six-year programme of development of robotic technology, that is close to being finalised, and also to projects underway in the Meat Research Fund – some of which will continue in the MIRIF activity – plus progress made in alternative post-mortem inspection.

Other presenters in the same session were Andrew Cooke of Rezare Systems Ltd, who talked about information and communication technology opportunities in the supply chain, while Dr Farouk looked at future technology for halal meat production.

‘Food Safety’ was the theme of the second session, which saw Massey University’s Professor Nigel French talking about the new Food Safety and Research Centre. Non-invasive food authentication, a newly AgResearch core-funded project on food provenance and assurance, was the topic for Marlon dos Reis, a senior scientist based at AgResearch Ruakura, while Adrian Cookson of the AgResearch Hopkirk Institute concentrated on on-farm/pre-harvest control strategies for the reduction of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC). Psychotrophic spoilage clostridia was the preserve of the Hopkirk Institute’s Kylie Horvath, whose research is looking at which New Zealand Clostridium species cause blown meat pack spoilage and whether the situation will change with increased hill farming.

‘Future Research Opportunities’ were explored by four speakers. Red meat was the domain of Greenlea Premier Meats’ business development manager Julie McDade, Chris Koroheke of AgResearch Ruakura looked at the opportunities for Māori agri-business and NZ Trade & Enterprise’s food and beverage programme leader and strategic advisor Dieter Adam suggested ways to ‘delight consumers and customers’.
Silver Fern Farms’ general manager innovation Grant Pearson, closed the final session with a presentation on the company’s experiences within its Primary Growth Partnership programme and where its research could head next.

At the conclusion of the workshop, presentations were made to Grant Pearson and to Peter Dobbie (AgResearch) for their exceptional contributions to meat industry research in New Zealand.

Copies of most of the AgResearch workshop presentations are available from

MIA delegates continued the discussions the following day at the Association’s annual research and development workshop.

Richard McColl, who organised that programme, says the MIA workshop focused on the MIRIF programme in more detail and the first year’s programme of work, which includes extending shelf-life, food safety and feeds for aquaculture. A session was held on proposals for the new Food Safety Centre of Excellence. Feedback was also sought for the development of the meat industry’s new research and development strategy. Other topics discussed were an update on the primal stimulation work being finalised in the Meat Research Fund programme and also high frequency head to back stunning.

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This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2015) and is reproduced here with permission. Photos: courtesy of AgResearch.

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