Thinking beyond high value red meat cuts pays off

Posted on Monday, 20 January 2020

ANZCO’s FoodPlus programme has found new and innovative ways to use lower value parts of the red meat carcass, including building an in-house biotech business based on blood products.

The $27 million, seven-year programme, implemented with co-investment from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Primary Growth Partnership, started in 2012 and finished at the end of October. It explored developing new food products, including stocks and broths; and healthcare products.

“FoodPlus was about doing more with what was already available. As well as making good business sense, we aimed to address the underlying profitability of the sector and secure a stronger future for ANZCO and the wider red meat industry in New Zealand,” says ANZCO Chief Executive Peter Conley.

Around 2.5 million beef animals are processed at New Zealand’s export plants every year.

“The industry had already achieved a lot with its higher value cuts and the opportunity for FoodPlus was in adding value to lower value parts of the carcass,” says Mr Conley.

“For example, bones are now being used for culinary stocks and extracts where previously they were processed into meat and bone meal for animal feed.

“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity provided through the investment from the Primary Growth Partnership. It enabled us to undertake this type of innovation, which will have benefits for the wider red meat sector,” says Mr Conley.

Steve Penno, Director Investment Programmes at MPI, says ANZCO’s FoodPlus programme adds to the meat industry’s body of knowledge about value-added products.

“Investigating these value-added opportunities has led to increased cooperation with other meat sector companies and stakeholders and will lead to more sustainable and profitable use of red meat carcasses,” says Mr Penno.

“We expect the programme findings will help secure a stronger future for the red meat industry in New Zealand.”

Through the programme ANZCO has commercialised more than 26 products and has a number of new products in the pipeline for development and commercialisation.

“One of the most successful parts of the programme was in the healthcare area, with ANZCO now supplying pericardium to major healthcare providers for use in heart-valve replacement surgery,” says Mr Conley.

“We are now also collecting and processing blood for a range of uses, including serum for manufacturing vaccines. Outside the programme, we bought an Australian blood business which has enabled us to progress faster in this area.”

Lessons from FoodPlus have enabled ANZCO to refine the way it develops new products, to help give them the best opportunity for success. Peter Conley says he is proud of the achievements the business has been able to make towards a step change in lifting sustainable industry performance.

“The longer-term legacies of FoodPlus are a stronger culture of innovation within the business and a continued focus on, and awareness of, the opportunities to add value across the business.

“Through the programme, we have created 102 new roles in fields such as advanced processing, technical product development and commercialisation.

“Bringing new products to fruition is a long road of investment. Resources and sales are increasing as individual products have developed momentum and the number of products has built up,” says Mr Conley.

The products commercialised, or being considered for commercialisation, at the end of the programme were 58 food products, eight ingredient products and 10 healthcare products.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research estimated FoodPlus would increase GDP by $200 million, and ANZCO says it’s on track to deliver this by 2030.

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