In March, red meat scientists, technologists and processing companies considered the latest innovations and science to help drive transformation of the sector at two annual workshops in Hamilton.
More than 100 participants, including representatives from all of the meat companies, packed – for the last time – into the McMeekan Centre on the AgResearch Ruakura campus on 13-14 March.
MIA – Implementing innovation
Around 50 meat processing representatives attended the half-day Meat Industry Association (MIA) Research & Development (R&D) Workshop on 13 March focusing on the companies’ current and future R&D.
MIA members met last November at a ‘Big Ideas Day’ workshop to see where the gaps are in research, what the scope is for collaborative R&D between companies and for guidance on where industry investment should be made, explained MIA science and innovation manager Richard McColl and partnership manager Kaylene Larking.
Another meat inspection workshop revealed members see less manual labour involved in this area in the future, replaced by more real-time inspection and non-invasive/destructive diagnosis and tools. Larking noted the workshop highlighted that trust will be essential to underpin changes throughout the chain – a key enabler for that will be robust track and trace systems. It was also acknowledged it is necessary to look outside the sector for new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, 3D printing, sensing technologies, amongst others, to assist.
The work came up with five research concepts to follow: traceability, sustainable meat industry, NZ Red Meat Inc meat attributes, artificial intelligence in the meat industry and labour supply.
“We’ve really got the opportunity to front-foot the value of red meat production, especially in the areas of sustainability and nutritional value,” said McColl.
“We are looking how to further build our R&D programme under those guidelines,” said Larking, adding two proposals for collaborative work are already in development.
Obtaining scientific verification to underpin claims for red meat exports is essential for the sector. Professor David Cameron-Smith, chair of nutrition at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, is heading a team put together by the MIA to undertake an industry-funded nutrition project.
Cameron-Smith – one of 10 speakers on the programme – outlined the thinking behind a proposed suite of four interconnected studies to run over the next three years. These will involve a range of research organisations, focusing on the nutritional value of grass-fed red meat in a modern diet. If successful, researchers will be looking at the short- and long-term well-being clinical benefits of beef consumption in a modern “best evidence” flexitarian diet (University of Auckland/Liggins Institute/Otago), advanced analytics of cooked beef (AgResearch), in vitro protein digestion (Riddet Institute), and a clinical study to provide data comparing the health effects of the digestion of pasture-fed beef with plant-based alternatives (University of Auckland).
Another planned project, ‘Vision 2036’, is focused on the future of protein production and developing technology platforms to support the design of new processing plants, incorporating AI, robotics, blockchain, internet of things and sensors, amongst others.
Workshop participants also heard detail on Meat Standards Australia’s new meat quality grading system for cuts from Professor David Pethick of Murdoch University in Perth.
Updates on other MIA Innovation and NZFSSRC work included in the programme were: lamb colour (PhD student, Jennifer Kwan); ultimate pH (Clyde Daly, Carne Technology); extending shelf-life (John Mills, AgResearch); trials of the new bovine ultrasonic knife (Shane Leath, AgResearch); STEC 100% kill (Tana Gupta, AgResearch) and interesting research on airborne STEC in processing (Delphine Rapp, AgResearch); and new collagen research from the Leather and Shoe Research Association (LASRA). Richard McColl also gave an update on two MIA projects: optimising operator ownership (Triple O) and delayed thoracic stick for halal slaughter.
New MIA Innovation factsheets
Results from MIA Innovation-funded research are starting to come through, said Larking, with new plain English fact-sheets being prepared. The latest research – ‘Reducing STEC On-farm’ – has just been uploaded to the MIA website, alongside two others, ‘A Review of Emerging Food Safety Technologies’ and ‘Emerging Pathogens’. More will join them, including previous research papers. All are accessible for MIA members at www.mia.co.nz.
Read about the AgResearch Meat Technology Workshop in MIA Focus Part 2 tomorrow …
This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2019) and is reproduced here with permission.