Lamb Processing

DEXA roll-out agreement to have future industry technology benefits

Terry Sim July 28, 2017

RED meat industry agreement on the proposed DEXA meat yield technology roll-out would provide a model for future industry-wide projects, Australian Meat Processor Corporation chief executive officer Peter Rizzo said yesterday.

On Tuesday, the AMPC board unanimously agreed to support and jointly fund Meat & Livestock Australia’s proposed $150 million accelerated DEXA roll-out to interested AUS-MEAT accredited red meat processing plants.

Mr Rizzo said there isn’t yet a full industry costing for the roll-out and AMPC wanted a more accurate “view” than the $150 million figure.

“In the meantime we’ve said if there is anyone who is dying to get it up and going now they (AMPC members) can use their Plant Initiated Project funds.”

The AMPC board has determined that the apparent number of plants willing to ‘opt-in’ and the funding needed was still very fluid and as decided that greater clarity was required before finalising the exact extent of its specific commitment.

Mr Rizzo said greater clarity was needed on costing and a roll-out funding agreement encompassing its term, the number of participating plants and resourcing.

But he commended the MLA for the “unprecedented” DEXA initiative.

“It looks like it has come together with a whole of industry benefit at the end of it.”

Mr Rizzo said the total money required for the roll-out will depend on the number of participating plants.

“And the plants will be different, there is probably a two-tiered costing, smalls versus beef.”

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Mr Rizzo said industry agreement on the DEXA roll-out would provide a model for the future introduction of other technology industry-wide.

“There are a number of other technologies that we are investing research monies in apart from DEXA that are under this banner of objective carcase measurement.

“But bearing in mind it’s only beneficial if the customer that goes to Coles or Woolworths or Burger King, gets a better experience.”

The AMPC board has stipulated that aggregated DEXA data that will be collected and stored by MLA be for research purposes only and that the data be made accessible to industry for research purposes.

Mr Rizzo said this stipulation would not preclude individual plants from providing carcase feedback data to individual producers.

“The bilateral agreement between a producer and a processor, and the data feedback is critical.”

Sheep industry to benefit quickly

Mr Rizzo believed DEXA had the potential to help Australian lamb processors access markets and encourage sheep breeders to select animals for meat yield.

“The sheep guys will benefit quickly.

“If you think of the yield and boning efficiency and maybe labour cost advantage (from DEXA) when there is competition for animals, you would expect that would flow back in pricing to the producer.”

“We are also seeing some new markets for a product like lamb and mutton that we couldn’t sell before.

“We’ve opened up America, we might even get our nose into the UK after Brexit, so for being ready for Tesco, Jamie Oliver and roast ready meals and things like that, I think DEXA will be helpful.”

Mr Rizzo said the DEXA technology gave the red meat industry the opportunity to improve “the customer benefit.”

“There is material benefit for all stakeholders.”

Sheepmeat Council of Australia welcomes AMPC decision

The Sheepmeat Council of Australia has welcomed the AMPC support for the DEXA roll-out. In a statement today, the council said it would continue to work collaboratively with all sheep meat value chain partners through the Red Meat Industry Objective Measurement Taskforce to ensure that the finalised implementation proposal presented to the SCA board for sign-off delivers the greatest possible benefit to all sheep producers.

The SCA board has agreed upon a set of overarching objective measurement sheep meat levy investment guiding principles, which through the taskforce, SCA will work with our value chain partners to implement.

The SCA statement said the exact level of sheep meat levy investment has not been finalised.

“The SCA board expects accurate investment costings to be developed through the AMPC and MLA co-funded independent review on the plant per plant costing associated with DEXA installation.

“Any investment of sheep meat levies is contingent on the SCA Board providing signoff on the final implementation plan and funding proposal.”

The voluntary accelerated roll-out of DEXA technology to AUS-MEAT accredited sheep meat processing plants directly aligns with the Sheepmeat Industry Strategic Plan 2020 goal to “Develop and promote improved objective measurement technologies for key quality traits both on-farm and in abattoirs” and “Facilitate improved information flows and risk management within value chains, in some cases through lamb value chain partnerships ”

The SCA board viewed the DEXA roll-out as driving additional benefits of objective carcase measurements to guarantee the product quality of MSA Lamb and the development of an Australian ‘yearling’ product. Objective measurement will assist the sheep meat industry in moving to a quality grading system that is not solely focused on dentition, the SCA said.

AMPC affirms support for industry taskforce and plant costs review

The AMPC board said it had considered feedback from recent industry meetings called by the OM Taskforce and ALMTech.

The board has also affirmed its support for the newly formed RMI OM Taskforce lead by industry expert Mr Gary Burridge. The taskforce that also includes a number of key red meat processing industry figures:

  • Dr. Graham Gardiner of Murdoch University;
  • Red Meat Industry Peak Council representatives (including nominee’s from SCA, CCA, GMC, AMIC, & ALFA);
  • Major industry players from both Teys Cargill JV and JBS; and
  • Respective representatives from RDC’s being both MLA & AMPC.

The AMPC board also approved to jointly co-fund with the MLA, the OM Taskforce request for an independent review on the per plant costings associated with the DEXA implementation. This review will be conducted by an engineering company that will survey a minimum of 60 Aus-Meat accredited processing sites who want to ‘opt-in’. The engineering company’s surveying is to be overseen by Gary Burridge, supported by Chris Ruberg from MLA and Brad Mathers from AMPC. This work is expected to be completed over the next three months and a full report will be provided to the OM Taskforce, MLA and AMPC at its completion.

The AMPC board was also supportive of the MLA’s request for the AMPC to co-fund the CT scanning equipment to be used by AUS-MEAT for the standardised calibration of the installed DEXA units and suggested that this costing proposal should be included in the OM Taskforce’s considerations.


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  1. Andrew Farran, July 29, 2017

    It’s hard to see how ‘objective measurement’ (aka DEXA) can be achieved prior to sale and de-boning on a scale comparable to where objective measurement has got to in the case of wool — which makes it difficult for most sheep meat producers to avoid saleyards or the broader market.

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