18 Aug 2010

Meat production needs to change, says Landcorp

6:54 am on 18 August 2010

The country's biggest farmer, Landcorp, says it's joined a programme to transform the meat industry because it's about saving the dry-stock farming sector.

It is part of a meat and dairy investment programme totalling $321 million, announced on Tuesday, with the cost shared by the industry and the Government.

Silver Fern Farms, PGG Wrightson and Landcorp Farming are leading the $151 meat programme, of which the Government's Primary Growth Partnership will provide $59.5 over seven years.

The aim is to research and develop a more integrated market driven approach to producing, processing and marketing red meat.

Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly says both meat companies and farmers need to change the way they operate to halt the decline in returns and stock numbers.

Mr Kelly says Landcorp's says its key role in the research programme will be in livestock genetics and developing the database.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper says there's the opportunity to grow the value of the red meat sector from $4 billion a year to more than $6 billion a year.

He says learning from others is part of the process of ing out what consumers want and then delivering it, rather than expecting them to pay a premium for a product they may not have wanted in the first place.

Meat industry commentator and business consultant Allan Barber thinks it's unlikely that the other large meat industry operators will want to get involved in this particular venture.

Mr Barber says the integrated programme is ambitious and he thinks it will be a challenge to change the culture of the sheep and beef industry, and the way it operates, in the seven year time fame.