The future of red meat integrity systems

26 November 2019

The improved use of data and technologies is key to ensuring transformational change in Australia’s red meat integrity system in order to maintain Australia’s competitive edge in the global market.

That was among the key messages delivered by a panel discussion of stakeholders from throughout the value chain during the Integrity Systems Forum at Red Meat 2019 in Tamworth.

Facilitated by Seftons Managing Director and red meat producer, Robbie Sefton, the panel featured Lachie Graham, Argyle Foods Group; Jane Kellock, sheep producer; Tess Herbert, Gundamain Feedlot; Bomber Lancaster, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Paul Holm, Elders; Michelle Henry, Gundagai Meat Processors (GMP) and Steven Moy, NH Foods, as well as Jane Weatherley and Jo Quigley from Integrity Systems Company (ISC).

The panel agreed that robust integrity systems are vital in underpinning future market access and telling provenance stories that guarantee quality products through end-to-end traceability.

Co-CEO of Argyle Foods Group, Lachie Graham, said the entire value of his branded beef and lamb business relies on provenance, which he achieves by controlling every part of the supply chain through data and technology.

“Running an integrated, end-to-end business, covering livestock production, processing and direct distribution, we utilise multiple on-farm data systems, allowing us to be nimble and efficient, capturing data and ensuring traceability across the supply chain, underpinning our product and brand,” Mr Graham said.

Sheep producer, Jane Kellock, utilises data through Livestock Data Link (LDL) and a sheep Electronic Identification (EID) system, enabling her to monitor individual livestock, ensuring the business only invests in animals that meet certain criteria and provide value.
“For multi-generational family farming businesses like ours, data is also a key driver is ensuring farming is meaningful, purposeful and profitable for the next generation, assisting our business moving forward,” Mrs Kellock said.

Running full lifetime traceability reports on their cattle, allows lot feeder, Tess Herbert, (Gundamain Feedlot), to understand how individual animals have performed from the feedlot through to the carcase, providing critical information driving their day-to-day business operations and strategic decision making.

“Our consumers are king; they are shaping the future of our agricultural systems and we need to continually respond to their needs. Through this individual livestock data, we’re able to do this, making sure our customers feel safe and comfortable with what they are eating,” Ms Herbert said.

From a processors point of view, utilising LDL and DEXA technology at Gundagai Meat Processors (GMP) enables Michelle Henry to help clients and their producers analyse feedback from the plant, driving value directly back into producers’ businesses.

“Installing these feedback mechanisms allows us to assist our clients and their producers get the most value out of feedback data from the processing plant, helping producers to make changes on-farm and within their businesses, while being responsive to consumer needs,” Dr Henry said.

NH Foods Group Livestock Manager, Steven Moy, agreed, saying Australia’s integrity system not only benefits business through increased revenue, it provides a platform to drive value back into the supply chain, by providing producers with data.
“The data we drive out of the ISC programs allows us to stand behind the product we pack and know it’s 100% what we say it’s going to be,” Mr Moy said.

Biosecurity Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer, Bomber Lancaster, said Australia leads the way in its integrity system, however other countries are catching up, and our priority should focus on making better use of data.

“The updated electronic National Vendor Declaration (eNVD), due to be launched in 2020, is an exciting tool from a traceability point of view as it makes verifying and monitoring animal movements in the event of a disease outbreak more efficient,” he said.

According to Elders Livestock Manager of Northern Zones, Paul Holmes, saleyards and livestock agencies can play a pivotal role in linking ISC programs to producers on the ground.

“Utilising the networks and connectivity that livestock agents have, we can effectively communicate the benefits of the integrity system programs and additional on-farm technologies, to help increase adoption and drive the future integrity system,” Mr Holmes said.

Communicating the benefits of this data and embracing available opportunities surrounding data and technology, to simplify and strengthen our integrity system was equally important across the panel.

Watch the full Red Meat 2019 Integrity Systems panel discussion.