New beef x-ray technology has been installed at two of Alliance Group’s plants, ensuring greater precision in packaging and labelling of meat destined for manufacturing customers.
The $2 million-plus investment at the cooperative’s Pukeuri plant at Oamaru and Mataura plant in Southland enables highly accurate chemical lean (fat to meat ratio) measurements for manufacturing beef, according to Kerry Stevens, Alliance general manager processing.
“Measuring the chemical lean (CL) or fat content of manufacturing beef has always been important but traditional methods of assessing it carried potential for error.
“There has been increasing demand for highly accurate and rapidly-obtained CL values and this new technology enables us to the meet the specifications for manufacturing beef with greater precision.”
Stevens says it means the customer gets an accurately measured product, and meat value is optimised, which realises the best returns for the cooperative’s farmer shareholders.
“Different grades of product can also be targeted with maximum accuracy and any specific customer requirements can be met. A further advantage is that we can also target different grades of product with maximum accuracy and meet any specific customer requirements.
The project also includes automatic weighing and labelling machinery for both plants. Processing of beef is also carried out at Alliance’s plant in Levin and the cooperative is exploring installing the technology there at a later date.
Part of continuing strategy to invest in performance
The new investment in beef x-ray technology is part of Alliance Group’s continuing strategy to invest in improving its operational performance, says Alliance chief executive David Surveyor.
Achievements are being made in lowering operating costs and improving productivity, automated measurement and cutting of the carcase, maximising yield, building its Pure South and Ashley brands and matching products to optimal market opportunity, he reports.
“Investment in robotics within production and systemised planning solutions enabling efficient production runs are vital to making gains in processing. We will also be deploying other further processing and packaging technologies that deliver efficiencies, lower running costs and enhance revenue opportunities.”
The cooperative’s newly released annual report shows significant improvements have also been made in its overall safety performance, which Surveyor says was another crucial part of the co-operative’s strategy.
“The 43 percent reduction in our Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) means fewer people getting hurt in our workplaces, which is good for our people and our business.”
These strategies are paying dividends for the cooperative and its farmer shareholders. The report shows a pre-tax profit of $10.1 million for the year ending 2016, compared to a $7.9 million pre-tax profit last year. The result was based on a turnover of $1.36 billion.
While the past year had been challenging for farmers with difficult market conditions, the cooperative had strengthened its balance sheet considerably, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart reported. This enabled it to make a $9.8 million distribution to farmer shareholders on the back of an improved financial result.
This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (December/January 2016) and is reproduced here with permission.