CONSULTATION on the changing of Australia’s lamb definition has been supported by domestic retailers and processors.
The Australian Meat Industry Council said it welcomed and endorsed the public consultation on potential changes to the lamb definition by the Sheepmeat Council of Australia.
AMIC said it had been working with the SCA on this issue for a number of years, with significant progress made in the past 12 months, as both councils recognise the potential benefits to both producers and processors.
AMIC is the peak council that represents retailers, processors and smallgoods manufacturers and its website says is the only industry association representing the post-farm-gate Australian meat industry.
Moves to formally change Australia’s lamb definition could start early next year, after the Sheepmeat Council of Australia yesterday launched a public consultation period on the issue.
The SCA’s eight-week national public consultation period on the definition of lamb, among producers and meat supply chain members, will end on November 29. After submissions and the results of an online survey are considered, the body set to supersede the SCA, Sheep Producers Australia, will evaluate a final report and determine an industry policy position in February next year, and release its final report in March.
Australia’s AUS-MEAT language currently defines lamb as a female, castrated or entire male up to 12 months of age with no erupted permanent incisor teeth, whereas New Zealand defines lamb as a sheep under 12 months of age or which does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear.
The proposed definition change would mean the eruption of permanent incisors is a sign to producers that they must sell their stock in short time to ensure they remain in the more valuable lamb category, AMIC said.
AMIC chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said it is essential that any changes to the red meat industry language and standards result in positive outcomes for the industry.
“The proposed change addresses the sharp reduction in price able to be offered by processors to producers for mutton compared with lamb, a key point identified by the SCA.”
AMIC said the integrity of the lamb category must be assured under any change in the definition, and the views of the various jurisdictional regulators will be sought in the consultation process.
Mr Hutchinson said research has shown there is no noticeable difference product eating quality between the time immediately prior to permanent incisor eruption and immediately afterwards.
“All sectors of the supply chain must be satisfied that any change in the lamb definition is positive, and this SCA consultation process will help ensure that,” he said.
The consultation discussion paper, background information and a link to the online survey are available on the SCA website www.sheepmeatcouncil.com.au/lamb-definition
Click here to read the SCA Lamb Language Public Consultation paper.
Click here to read the Holmes Sackett interim report on the implications in changing the lamb definition.
Click here to do the online survey.
Sources: AMIC, SCA.