28 Jun

Crystal Gazing: The Future of Australian Supply Chains and Logistics

Mail delivered by drone could soon be a reality, as the logistics industry catches up with advances in technology. Image: The Interspect by Bako Gaboravailable at Wikimedia under a Creative Commons 1.0 license.

The Deakin Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics has recently completed a scenario planning study on behalf of the Australian Government with the aim of identifying national freight and supply chain priorities.

The study involved considering the potential for autonomous processes in place of traditional models, such as mobile driverless grocery stores as an alternative to supermarkets. Mail delivered by drone was another identified trend, with ‘RoboPost’ units capable of using public footpaths and bike lanes to make deliveries.

The study considered how the sharing economy model – developed by brands like Uber and Airbnb – could be used in supply chain management, with ideas including shared truckloads and leased warehouse space.

Other suggestions from the report included:

  • Freight-only airports and rail networks, separating passenger transport from freight
  • Decentralised farming and manufacturing, reducing the distance between producers and consumers
  • An increase in government terms and a reduction in government tiers – to facilitate better bipartisan support of infrastructure projects
  • The use of smartphone apps by consumers to track food provenance from the farm to their plate, increasing trust amongst shoppers
  • Automated, carbon neutral supply chains between Australia and China
  • Highly automated systems, and the impact upon human labour

Findings from the study will be used to inform a new national freight and supply chain strategy identified by the Government as essential to maintain competitiveness and respond to challenges such as automation, climate change and population growth.

“This strategy will inform the development of infrastructure that will take several years to implement and then needs to last decades,” said Dr Roberto Perez-Franco, a Senior Research Fellow at the Deakin Centre.

“So it’s critical we look deep into the future,” he said.

Dr Perez-Franco interviewed supply chain industry experts as part of the study, identifying a list of 200 drivers of change.

The information was then overlapped with four different scenarios for supply chain management in 2037, using a novel scenario methodology developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010, including work by Dr Perez-Franco.

According to the researcher, Australia’s city-centric population and congested rail and road networks were the biggest barriers to future supply chain performance.

“Urban congestion is a problem that will only get worse in the future unless urban planners include provisions for freight and supply chains into their plans for cities,” he said.

“Freight is expected to double over the next 20 years, so industry and all levels of government need to work together to ensure that happens smoothly and with a positive impact on the nation’s prosperity.”

“There is also a lot of anxiety about new automation technologies, like artificial intelligence and robotics, which promise to displace thousands of people in their jobs.”

“Companies and governments have the responsibility to ensure the displaced workers are retrained so that they can play meaningful roles in this brave new world.”

He believes that developing strong brand integrity is crucial in promoting Australia’s commercial advantage.

“‘Brand Australia’ could become even more important for the country’s exports,” he said.

“We can really set ourselves apart as a clean, green and ethical source of agricultural products if we make our supply chain a priority.”

Sources: Stock Journal

28 Jun

SA Riverland Attracts Sustainable Horticulture Development

Image: The development of a large scale horticulture enterprise at Monash offers a welcome boost to the southern Murray-Darling Basin economy.

A bold new agricultural development will see almost $210 million invested in the Riverland region of South Australia over the next five years, targeting the creation of more than 400 jobs.

The development of Coolamon Farms will include the planting of around 3,000 hectares to mixed horticulture, including almonds, citrus, and avocados. The project is located on Monash Station, a 10,000-hectare property currently owned and operated as a broad acre enterprise by local orchardist and businessman Mr John Gallard.

According to the project’s website, the operators aim to produce 30,000 tonnes of premium horticulture annually for both domestic and international markets, valued in wholesale terms at approximately $75 million AUD.

As well as implementing regenerative and sustainable farming methods, the operation of Coolamon Farms will involve the generation of solar energy to power the site’s irrigation requirements. Local council documents reveal that the project will involve the installation of a 26.4MW solar farm and diesel power plant for back up electricity generation.

Australian investment manager and project developer Kilara Capital, is aiming to raise the required capital over the course of 2018, with construction set to start in 2019. Initial crop yields are expected by 2022 with full production capacity achieved by 2026.

Kilara Capital’s Managing Director Ben Krasnostein confirmed that the majority of approvals required have been granted and the site is effectively shovel ready.

In terms of the irrigation, Mr Krasnostein is confident that the project partners will be able to secure the volume of water required for a development of this scale.

“The project developers and equity partners are working to formulate a comprehensive, flexible and sustainable water acquisition strategy,” he said. “It’s likely to be a mix of leased, owned and spot market entitlements.”

“The quantum of water is directly related to the final composition of horticulture crops and will ramp up over the 5 years of development.”

An additional income stream could come from the commercialisation of renewable energy infrastructure.

“The generation of renewable energy, beyond that which is required for on-farm operations is certainly an option. We are in the initial feasibility stage to see whether a larger, utility-scale Solar PV plant will stack up commercially.”

“We will use renewable energy sources behind-the-meter, to power the pumping and irrigation needs of the farm. This will assist in delivering a de-carbonised solution for the growing and production of all the off-take from the project.”

The Right Time for Job Creation

Publicity surrounding the Coolamon Farm development comes at a welcome time after The Murray-Darling Basin Authority confirmed that there was a downward trend in employment between 2000 and 2016.

The report showed that there has been a 37% decline in on-farm employment and a 16% decline in employment across all sectors, in the southern Murray-Darling Basin region.

While some job losses could be apportioned to on-farm efficiency gains and improvements in technology and automation, the report shows that up to 7% of on-farm job losses were a direct result of the Basin Plan.

Sources: Berri Barmera Council, ABC, Coolamon Farms, pp Solar

28 Jun

Grain Train: Australia’s Longest Locomotive Departs on Drought Mission

Image: A 1.8-kilometre long train left Mid North South Australia last week, on a mission to deliver grain to drought-affected farmers in New South Wales. Images from Farm Online 

Australia’s longest train has departed from South Australia on a mission to deliver much-needed grain to drought-affected New South Wales.

The 1.8-kilometre train left Crystal Brook station in the mid-north of South Australia last Wednesday after arriving a day prior at the Cargill GrainFlow site the previous morning to be loaded.

A total of 6,228 tonnes of locally grown wheat was loaded into 101 wagons under the supervision of Site Manager David Arbon.

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“On the first day, using one rail bin, we loaded 72 wagons in six hours at a loading rate of 450t an hour”, he said.

Mr Arbon said that local team was proud to be involved with the record-breaking attempt.

“It’s our local farmers’ wheat that was delivered to our site that is going into those wagons, so it is great to see it headed off to market,” he said.

Watching the Grain Flow

Bianca Schuller – GrainFlow Regional Operations Assistant – was in charge of the Crystal Brook silo while the train was being loaded.

“The longest train I’ve ever filled at this site was 58 wagons, so to see this was pretty mind-boggling actually, it was awesome,” She said

According to Ms Schuller, GrainCorp has been so impressed with the efficiency of loading the train that another has been ordered to depart on July 9th.

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The sale of grain from the Crystal Brook site provides more storage for this season’s harvest, without the need for building additional storage facilities.

“The more we can get rid of, the more we can receive without having to build any more infrastructure.”

The train was due to off-load at both Newcastle and Moree. It is believed that grain will be used for stock feed by drought-affected farmers.

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Source: Farm Online

28 Jun

Paddock to Plane: Pangkarra Foods Take Flight

Image: Jim and Katherine Maitland, at their Clare farm – Anama Park. Image supplied.

The development of a paddock to plate brand has been a steady success for one South Australian farming family, and the welcome addition of a supply agreement with Virgin Australia presents a new opportunity for their premium food business.

Launched in 2011, the creation of Pangkarra Foods was a way for the Maitland family to diversify their operations from a standard grain-growing model and take more control of value chain opportunities.

Managed by Katherine and Jim Maitland, and Jim’s parents – David and Margot, the business operates from Anama Park – a 2,300-hectare farm growing grains, pulses and export hay, located in the Clare Valley.

Initially, the enterprise produced a line of premium, wholegrain pastas, using durum wheat grown on farm and processed in Adelaide. Product branding focussed on developing a reputation as a wholesome, healthy pasta – features which derive directly from protecting the integrity of the grain through traditional processing methods, including stone milling.

In 2016, Pankgarra added ready-to-eat chickpeas and a snack food line to their mix, capitalising on increasing demand for healthy alternatives and pulse products.

After 12-months of discussions and negotiations, Pangkarra Foods has recently secured a deal to supply ready-to-eat 25g snack packs for passengers on board Virgin Airlines domestic flights.

While the initial sale of 250,000 units has provided a welcome income boost, being able to build brand awareness with Virgin customers doubles as an attractive opportunity for Pangkarra.

“We are thrilled to be working with Virgin Australia in supplying the Pangkarra Roasted Chickpeas and Roasted Bean Mix to Virgin Australia passengers,” said Katherine Maitland.

“With such a captive audience eating and enjoying our products, the exposure and recognition of our brand is invaluable.”

According to Mrs Maitland, it’s a deal that’s already paying off for the business.

“In the domestic market, the promotional advantages with working with airlines helps sales in the retail shops. Since we have secured the Virgin Australia deal, we have had numerous enquiries from customers who have tried our pulses on the inflight menu, and as such, have sourced the product in their local IGA or Foodland.”

“We hope to build on potential wholesale opportunities, including working with some of the major supermarket chains. We also plan to grow our export markets, particularly in South East Asia, China and America.”

Despite the success of Pangkarra Foods, the Maitland’s see the enterprise as a ‘side business’ – albeit a valuable one – to their fifth generation family farming enterprise.

“Rather than having all our eggs in one basket…we have endeavoured to find other ways to sell to the market. By having a value-add business, we now have more appreciation of what we are growing, that is, we are growing food to consumer, rather than a commodity.”

31 May

On-Farm Abattoir Concept Wins MLA Innovation Award

Michelle Lally from Australian Micro Abattoirs accept the Producers Innovation Award from MLA Managing Director Richard Norton. Image supplied.

A FARMER-DEVELOPED micro abattoir concept has been nationally recognised as an innovative system component for the meat market.

South Australian Michele Lally accepted the MLA Producers Innovation Award for Australian Micro Abattoirs at the Rabobank Beef Industry Awards in Rockhampton this month.

With her husband Phil, Ms Lally started Savannah Lamb in 2009 – a small-scale producer of lamb with a focus on ethical, sustainable and stress free livestock handling methods.

Despite strong customer demand for Savannah Lamb products, the issue of processing small numbers of animals became a major barrier for the brand.

Using commercial-scale abattoirs consumed so much of their time, the Lallys spent up to four days per week on the road taking livestock to be slaughtered and butchered, as well as delivering stock to distributors and customers.

As well as the time spent away from the farm, the outgoings associated with processing – freight, commission, yard fees, freight and condemnation losses – represented some of the biggest costs for the business, eating into their profit margin.

In addition to the time and cost factors, there is a general risk the meat that producers receive back is not from the livestock that they delivered to the abattoir.

‘When a brand promotes food provenance as a key feature, they must be certain their product has integrity and authenticity, or it can damage their reputation’ said Ms Lally.

‘We had a good relationship with our abattoir and we had a good system in place so we were certain that our returned carcasses were the animals we’d produced, but we know many other producers who have not been able to guarantee their supply chain system integrity”.

A Gap in the Fence

In response to the ongoing issues, the Lallys set about developing a pilot version of a micro abattoir on their own Clare Valley farm, quickly generating interest from other small-scale meat producers.

Seeing the potential for a fully integrated micro abattoir product and service offering, Ms Lally started Australian Micro Abattoirs as a standalone enterprise.

The ‘plug and play’ units are capable of processing both large and small animals, and are available with add-on features such as dry ageing capabilities, commercial kitchens and waste management facilities.

With the ability to slaughter and process animals on-farm, Australian Micro Abattoirs hopes that farmers will be able to better manage output costs, product value and quality, throughput and animal welfare standards.

‘By building and installing small-scale abattoirs, meat producers can take control of their supply chain’.

The service offered by the company comes with a full consultation program to match farmers with the right unit for their throughput, as well as additional consultancy services such as digital provenance, marketing and branding services and waste management advice.

Abattoir Closures Threaten Industry

Australian Micro Abattoirs comes at a critical time for Australian livestock growers. An increasing number of medium-sized abattoirs have been forced to close due to low profitability, leaving few options for those with small numbers of animals.

As well as providing a solution for paddock-to-plate growers, micro abattoirs offer a solution for small-scale livestock producers to band together into a cooperative arrangement, avoiding the need to transport livestock long distances prior to slaughter.

30 May

SuperFarm: WA’s Largest Cropping Property Up for Grabs

Image: Western Australia’s largest holding of cropping country is on the market, and could be yours for a mere $80 million. Image from The West.

WA FARMER AND machinery dealer John Nicoletti is selling his 200,000 hectare property – set to be the biggest transaction of broadacre farming land in Australian history.

The property is made up of more than 30 original farms across the West Australian Wheatbelt including 76,000 hectares of owned land and 127,000 hectares of leased land.

The holdings also include more than 25 dwellings, 12 shearing sheds, 15,000 tonnes of grain storage near CBH’s receival site at Merredin, 50,000 merino ewes plus lambs, plant and machinery.

In an effort to reduce his debt level, Mr Nicoletti sold 70,000 hectares in 2015 to CK Life Sciences for $36 million – the biggest parcel of land ever sold in WA history. The property has been leased back to Mr Nicoletti on a ten-year agreement, with the balance to the new owner.

‘Strong Buyer Interest’

Transaction manager Damian Bryce says that there has been strong global interest in the sale of the Nicoletti property.

‘Given the level of interest we’ve had from the media, we’ve had lots of enquiries from as far as Canada, Sweden and Ireland’.

‘The preferred option for the vendor would be to sell the holdings as a whole, but we would also consider multiple transactions if that’s what the market wants,’ he said.

While the property is likely to attract attention from investors, the fragility of the live export market could prompt interest from buyers seeking to secure live sheep deliveries.

‘As the properties are Middle East facing – in terms of sheep and grain it could be appealing to someone from the Middle East, or foreign funds looking to invest and there are not many assets of this quality and scale to invest in’.

A flock of 50,000 merino ewes plus progeny has been built up over the last few years, but according to Mr Nicoletti his decision to sell the property is not linked to the live export saga.

‘There is an upheaval and a live export ban would affect prices, but the good thing is there is not abundant numbers of sheep in WA, and the wool price is at record levels’ he said.

The sale includes up to 80,000 hectares of sown crops this year, depending upon opening rains.

The vendor will continue to be linked to agriculture through the operation of his John Deere dealership – Ag Implements, which has branches in five towns across the Wheatbelt.

Sources: The West, Ag Implements

30 May

(Wide) Open For Business: New Investment Model Targets True Sustainability

Image: Head Grower Kerry Dell’Agostino, CEO Dr Ben Cole and Sales Manager Merilyn Elson in The Wedge smart shade house at Arthurton in Western Australia. Supplied.

A WA-BASED PRIVATE equity business has recently launched an Initial Public Offering (IPO) with the aim of becoming the world’s first ‘4 Returns’ company to list on a stock exchange.

Wide Open Agriculture is the parent company to three main enterprises – high-tech glasshouse production, a paddock-to-plate food brand and collaborative farming venture with existing landholders.

All three enterprises are located in the West Australian Wheatbelt, a region traditionally renown as a broad acre cropping and sheep grazing district. But according to company director Dr Ben Cole, the region provides near perfect growing conditions for horticulture systems.

‘The local climate is really suited to growing crops in glass houses, as long as you can manage frost and extreme UV, and the retractable roof on our glass houses allow us to control for these conditions’.

The company was formed when the founding directors saw an opportunity to capitalise on the premium status the region had earned from employing sustainable agriculture practices such as reduced chemical use.

‘We’re trying to show that diversified farming systems offer opportunities and we want to offer farmers a pathway to market through our food brand’, he said. ‘Consumers are looking for this type of experience.’

As a resident of the Wheatbelt town of Williams, Dr Cole was also concerned about the trend of people moving from rural areas to big cities.

‘In the last 20 years, we’ve seen massive depopulation, which is a concern for someone like me raising a small family in the bush. We want to see more farmers and more people living in rural areas, which stems from creating more jobs – in farming as well as value adding’.

Returns 4U

Wide Open Agriculture works on a ‘4 Returns’ model – placing emphasis on measuring financial, social, environmental and inspirational returns.

‘We know and believe that if you’re not delivering on a 4 Returns model, you won’t be able to do business in the Wheatbelt. It’s essential to secure the return of people to the region so agriculture has a sufficient pool of workers.’

‘Likewise, if the soil on your land isn’t functioning and you have poor water quality, you’re not harnessing the free stuff you need to do business in agriculture’.

‘The financial return is of first and foremost importance, but valuing the other three returns adds more value for investors than you’d expect’.

The 4 Returns framework was developed by Netherlands-based Commonland Foundation – an NGO that invests in projects to restore degraded landscapes to improve the sustainability of the associated communities.

Commonland is also the largest shareholder in Wide Open Agriculture with 12,000,000 shares, which will represent a 17% stake in the company upon completion of the current IPO.

Farmer Perspective

Wheatbelt farmer Stuart McAlpine has recently entered into a collaborative farming venture with Wide Open Agriculture, having sold the company 320 hectares of his cropping and livestock farm.

Mr McAlpine has a long-term lease option on the block, with a holistic farm plan drawn up between the two parties.

The plan applies a three-zone approach to the farm with 150 hectares – the ‘economic zone’ to be managed by Mr McAlpine in sync with the rest of his grain and livestock enterprise, with all profits to be retained by him.

Approximately 30% of the land (98 hectares) was planted to perennial grazing shrubs in August 2017, with the aim of demonstrating the benefits of fodder forage shrubs as a sustainable source of livestock feed.

The long-term intention for this ‘combined’ zone is to return a profit to both the farmer and investor, while successfully improving ecological returns through regenerative farming methods.

A third zone – ‘nature’ – will be the site of a revegetation program to provide valuable habitat for native flora and fauna species.

‘As a farmer, the opportunity to move to a regenerative farming model is exciting, but we needed to unlock some capital to provide sufficient investment into it’, said Mr McAlpine.

‘This approach allows us to keep managing the land, with the resources we need to make significant changes and demonstrate the benefits of a better way of farming’.

Sources: ABC, Wide Open Agriculture

30 May

Unbreakable: Managing Workplace Stress in Agriculture and Agribusiness

Described by the World Health Organisation as the global health epidemic of the 21st century, workplace stress is a critical issue requiring both proactive and reactive management strategies by employers.

Image: The Unbreakable Farmer Warren Davies says proactively managing workplace stress is the best way to prevent it occurring. Image supplied.

DESPITE AGRICULTURE’S $60 billion a year contribution to the Australian economy, the rate of suicide among farmers is still 1.6 times the general population. With agriculture and agribusiness subject to volatile external pressures such as weather and markets, employees are at a higher risk of becoming stressed.

According to resilience expert Warren Davies, there are many causes of workplace stress, but some are unique to the sector.

‘In agriculture and agribusiness, stress can come from pressures higher up in the hierarchy, or from external forces such as the bank, weather, seasonal uncertainty or livestock health’.

‘But being left in the dark is one factor that can induce stress – and it’s one which farm and business managers often overlook’ he said.

Davies warns that transparency is key in preventing employees from being at risk of developing stress-related symptoms.

‘Keep all employees in the picture with regular staff meetings and make sure that all staff have a really clear idea about the tasks they each have to do’.

Not only does this approach help keep staff focussed and accountable, but it helps to reduce the pressure on managerial staff too.

‘In my previous role as a dairy manager, this helped to relieve some of my stress as I had more confidence that my staff knew what to do’.

‘The Unbreakable Farmer’

At 22, Davies bought his own dairy farm, fulfilling an almost lifelong desire to be a farmer. Then the harsh realities of being a primary producer set in and a constant battle with high-interest rates, low milk prices, extreme weather events forced him into a downward spiral of stress and depression.

After 16 years of operation, Davies was forced to walk off his farm, leaving his young family without a home or an income.

Dealing with an identity crisis and feelings of guilt and failure, Davies occupied himself by reading anything he could find on the importance of resilience, persistence and determination.

His journey led him to a new career as a keynote speaker and mental health advocate under the brand of The Unbreakable Farmer. He now shares his story with audiences as a way to raise awareness of the impact stress and mental health issues have on agricultural and rural communities.

The Unbreakable Farmer’s Tips for Employers – Preventing Workplace Stress

  • Identifying the signs of stress – ‘Stress can manifest itself in several different ways – physical emotional and behavioural. It can be tiredness, sickness, fatigue, anger, frustration or difficulty controlling emotions – so it’s important to be able to recognise the signs so you can have an open discussion with that staff member’.
  • Have a proactive management approach – ‘Have regular staff meetings and keep your team informed. Explain why every task is important and what the implications are if something is not done. Make sure that all staff have a position description and that they fully understand what it entails’.
  • Develop a resilient team – ‘Everyone is born with a certain amount of resilience, increasing that resilience muscle is done by exposing a person to small amounts of stress so they begin to build confidence that they can bounce back. It’s also important to know that everyone has a different resilience threshold – some people thrive on deadlines, but the same amount of pressure could be damaging’.

Sources: HRM Magazine, The Guardian.

30 Apr

Favourable Forecast: A Good Year Predicted for Australian Agriculture

A bumper year for wool and wine exports is being driven by continued growth by the Chinese market. Image by Stefano Lubiana under a CC2.0 license.

Improving global markets and increasing wealth amongst Asian populations is set to continue positive growth in Australian Agriculture in 2018.

At the top of the charts are Australian wine and wool exports, which are set to enjoy the biggest increase in demand.

“A key standout for us is the wine industry which we expect to have its best year for many years in 2018,” said Tim Hunt, who wrote Rabobank’s Agribusiness Outlook 2018 report.

Wine exports increased by 15 per cent in 2017, worth $2.56 billion. In the same year, Australian agricultural exports to China increased by 63 per cent, valued at $848 million.

Chinese demand for wool resulted in wool prices rising to record prices, with a 70 per cent increase in exports.

Export buyer Scott Carmody predicts the demand for Australian wool will continue.

‘They are hungry for our wool clip we’ve got plenty of orders being written into prompt shipment … so we can only see the demand staying.”

Sector Round-Up 2018

Forecasts by sector, based on information from Rabobank’s Agribusiness Outlook 2018 report:

  • Wheat – a small price improvement is expected as demand increases and stocks decline
  • Barley – prices due to remain elevated as global stocks weaken
  • Dairy – trading conditions will be broadly attractive for dairy growers
  • Beef – growing domestic stocks and competition from other exporting countries will put downward pressure on Australian cattle prices
  • Sheepmeat – strong demand set to maintain strong prices
  • Sugar – the price of sugar is set to decline as the global sugar market returns to surplus
  • Cotton – price decline predicted for the second half of 2018
  • Wool – strong demand set to continue favourable prices
  • Wine – sector predicted to enjoy its best year in a long time
  • Horticulture – set to enjoy continuing growth on the back of overseas demand for high-quality fresh produce
  • Fertiliser – prices to remain flat due to oversupply


Potential Downsides

Of concern to farmers across Australia, is the dry conditions and lack of forecasted rain. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting drier than average conditions for Southwest Australia and Western Victoria between May and July, in addition to the hotter than average autumn conditions experienced in March and April.

Other threats to agricultural profitability could come from geopolitical factors such as China withdrawing from lucrative trade agreements. China’s debt level could also be a concern – when addressed, it is forecast to impact interest rates, economic growth and currency value locally, with flow-on effects to trade partners.

Sources: ABC, ABC, Bureau of Meteorology

30 Apr

Mutton Dressed as Profit

New Profits from Old Sheep? Image from ‘Productive Sheep Husbandry’ from Internet Archive Book Images with no known copyright restrictions.

Dry aged mutton could be the next big thing in food thanks to a trial between farmers and chefs at the William Angliss Institute.

Led by Chef Dale Lyman, a team of Melbourne based researchers have been looking at ways to make mutton more appealing to consumers.

Using the age-old method of dry ageing, the team have discovered a way to make mutton more juicy and tender, while improving the flavour profile. Dry ageing – which is generally used on beef rather than lamb – is a process that dehydrates meat in a controlled environment over the course of weeks or months.

Mr Lyman has been surprised by the results that dry ageing has had upon mutton – traditionally a cheap, undesirable cut.

‘The shoulder cooks beautifully as a braise. The forequarter, the loin, some of the other cuts like the rump are good for long, slow cooking. The mince is fantastic,” he said

“It has huge potential. I think it may be slow to begin with, but once chefs get the product and figure out the best way to cook with it, it’ll go gangbusters.”

His experiences echo those of a 2016 study by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) that found that dry aged mutton was more favourable than standard wet aged lamb based on taste.

University of Melbourne researcher Hollis Ashman says it’s the complexity of the flavours as well as the strong buttery taste that make aged mutton so appealing.

“[Dry aged mutton] becomes almost like chocolate, so think of it as the chocolate of meats,” she said.

“A crust grows on the outside of the meat as it ages, and the inside of the meat becomes very tender and juicy. It tastes really good.”

Potential for the Industry

While Australians are typically mad for lamb products, it may be a little harder to convince consumers of the benefits of dry aged mutton. Because of the lack of interest in cheaper lamb cuts, most domestically raised mutton is currently shipped overseas.

The upside, however, is a boost to the sustainability of the sheep enterprises as the value of older ewes increases.

“I was talking to a producer the other day — it’s a big company with 100,000 ewes — and they are culling 5 percent of their ewes every year, which is a routine practice,” said Professor Robyn Warner from Melbourne University.

Another roadblock is the capability of the supply chain to integrate the dry ageing process into current processing models.

While most abattoirs have the facilities to age meat for a week, mutton requires at least a month.

If the issue can be resolved, WA Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development senior research office Robin Jacobs estimates it could double the price farmers are paid for mutton.

‘There are some challenges there with how to do it commercially, but certainly there is lots of interest both from producers and consumers who have tried it in these restaurants”, she said.

Ms Jacobs said it would also fill a price gap in the lamb market.

“Lamb in a dinner occasion is about $35 for a main, whereas dry aged sheep would be about $25 to $28 a plate.”

Sources: ABC

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