DORPERS could become the Angus of sheep meat markets if Australian breeders get their way.
Dorper sheep breeders and processors gearing up for the launch of the Prime Dorper Lamb brand in the next few months are hoping to replicate the success of breed-based beef brands.
Underpinned by the eating quality system Meat Standards Australia, the Prime Dorper Lamb brand is seen as the next step for the breed’s producers to increase awareness of the quality of the sheep’s meat and ensure a consistent supply to local processors.
Dorper Sheep Society of Australia board member Donna Emmerton said with the South African meat breed finding a foothold in Australia’s rangelands and in other regions, it was important to find a way to supply a consistent branded product to build a reputation similar to leading beef breeds.
“Our producers are keen and motivated but it’s difficult because they are Australia-wide, so by using MSA as a ‘backbone’ it means all producers are on the same page, producing the same product consistently.
“There’s also been such rapid growth in Dorpers in the past 20 years that we feel that consumers don’t always distinguish between our lamb and other breeds, and we think it’s important to make that distinction to create more demand and make Dorper the ‘lamb of choice’,” Ms Emmerton said.
“The DSSA has visions of Dorper being the Angus of the sheep world.”
The DSSA has been quick to adopt MSA supply chain management protocols and spread the word amongst its members, holding regular information days with MSA representatives from Meat & Livestock Australia.
MSA means Dorper lamb consumers can be confident of quality
MSA operations manager Sarah Strachan said the independent endorsement of the MSA program enables the customers of Dorper lamb to purchase the sheep meat with confidence.
“For consumers, MSA takes the guesswork out of buying lamb because it has successfully identified the critical points along the supply chain that impact on the eating quality of sheep meat.
“When producers implement best practice, low stress management and provide good nutrition, they are delivering the best possible product into the supply chain,” Ms Strachan said.
“The processors then ensure these animals are handled with minimal stress and continually monitor processing techniques that optimise meat quality.
“Each MSA eligible cut is then labelled with an appropriate cooking method, so the consumer has the best chance of having a successful eating experience that meets their expectations.”
Prime Dorper Lamb brand plans
The DSSA will draw on more than 600 members in six states to supply the Prime Dorper Lamb brand.
As a way of ‘speeding up’ adoption, the DSSA is offering a co-branding agreement to existing Dorper lamb suppliers who already have their own brands. From July, those who meet licensing agreements will be permitted to brand their product with their own logo and that of Prime Dorper Lamb.
Licensing agreements require producers to be members of the DSSA, purchase and use only rams from a registered DSSA stud, provide lambs that are at least 87 per cent Dorper (minimum third cross) and ensure only a premium quality product is supplied.
Processors will be required to select from MSA-registered and DSSA-licenced producers only 18-26kg carcase weight lambs with a fat score of 2-3 that have met MSA standards.
A simple but effective Prime Dorper Lamb logo has already been produced, and Ms Emmerton said it’s getting a good reception from use on caps, shirts and vests.
“It seems to be unifying members of the Society because any merchandise with the Prime Dorper Lamb logo on it is flying out the door.
“The logo is simple yet eye-catching, and it will be an option for butchers and food service outlets to use to identify the Prime Dorper Lamb products at point of sale,” she said.
Meat Standards Australia was developed by the Australian red meat industry to improve the eating quality consistency of beef and sheep meat. The system is based on almost 700,000 consumer taste tests by over 100,000 consumers from nine countries and takes into account all factors that affect eating quality from the paddock to the plate. To find out more information about the MSA program visit http://www.mla.com.au/msa