Feb 20, 2020 by Mark Dingley
With veganism and flexitarian diets on the rise, the Australian red meat sector is facing some serious challenges.
Plant-based diets were one of the biggest food and health trends of 2019, and the wave is set to continue in 2020. The reality is producers and processors need to find a way to keep their meat on plates in Australia and overseas. This means addressing the rising environmental, welfare and health concerns around red meat.
Australia's red meat industry has a plan. Crafted by the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) alongside producers, representative groups, processors, exporters and retailers, Red Meat 2030 outlines six priorities for the next ten years: People, Customers, Livestock, Markets, Environment and Systems.
To double the value of the industry to over $56 billion in the next decade, amongst other things.
Unsurprisingly, a large part of the solution lies in technology. Developing, adopting and using innovative technology is essential if the industry is going to adapt for the future.
Provenance is more than a food industry buzzword; it’s one of the most important things consumers are looking for today and is vital in selling Australian-grown meat. According to Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2020, consumers’ interest in discovering the story behind their food purchases has grown even more further and is increasingly influencing buying decisions.
People value authentic¬ity, traceability and purity. For red meat, this means they want to know everything about where it came from: your feed regime, the abattoir, the breed, what the animals look like and more.
“[Provenance is] being driven by today’s consumers who are more interested to know where their food has come from; whether it is safe to eat; whether it has been grown and produced under ethical and sustainable conditions; and whether it is good quality, and if so, worth paying more for.”
Dr Heather Smyth, a sensory scientist from the University of Queensland.
If you can meet consumers’ growing demand for information about their food and how it’s produced, you can improve trust, loyalty and sales.
How will Red Meat 2030 address customer demands?
Let’s break that down. First, it means creating a single, user-centric supply chain integrity system for the industry. These integrity systems need to be able to support and underpin the claims made by the industry.
In addition, the industry proposes to use real-time traceability to track and trace products from paddock to plate.
A good example is by red meat processor JBS Australia, which recently announced a traceability system for King Island Beef, as part of a larger blockchain scheme. It links customers with the farmer that raised the animals for that specific cut of beef. You can read more about using blockchain for food traceability in this article.
As MLA’s domestic market manager Graeme Yardy told the ABC, "[It's about] opening up and showing what our supply chain looks like and not being afraid."
Regular readers of our blog will know that we talk about data a lot. That’s because data is the key to an efficient business and supply chain.
In our experts’ predictions for 2020, GS1 Australia told us, “We will see a better utilisation of master data and big data, and a more prominent role for data scientists as manufacturers continue to improve supply chain efficiency from farm to consumer, seek to produce more efficiently, sell more effectively, tailor marketing solutions to micro markets, run more targeted campaigns, maximise shelf life, and reduce waste.” No surprises, then, that Red Meat 2030 sets out to improve the way the industry collects, uses and shares data.
This requires the industry to first define data standards, ownership and capture processes. But it also proposes to develop automated sharing of data between supply chain participants to increase transparency. This will be a big step for the red meat industry.
Online connectivity is imperative to transformation of the industry. There’s no point having innovative tools and systems, such as real-time traceability, if businesses cannot access them.
Red Meat 2030 is not only advocating for full supply chain digital coverage, but will also invest in the development and application of new tools and technologies, including Artificial Intelligence.
Automation will be a key component of business transformation for the red meat industry, by reducing risks, cutting costs and improving efficiency. Many meat processors are already tapping into the many benefits. For example, beef boning automation has been estimated to deliver at least a $30 per head benefit, with around 40% of this returned to producers.
The industry is already investing significantly in automation. The MLA together with the Australian Meat Processor Corporation spends up to $15 million per annum in processing efficiency and productivity R&D, with a substantial sum for lamb and beef processing automation.
According to Red Meat 2030, the industry will go a step further by advocating for easier access to capital for Agtech and encouraging adoption of emerging technologies, amongst other initiatives.
The red meat industry plan might seem ambitious, but it’s exactly what is needed to lead the sector into the next decade with confidence. It sends a message to government and the community of the sector’s intention to grow and develop sustainably both in Australia and around the world.
Want to get a jump on 2020 and update your equipment and technology? Speak with the team at Matthews today.