Australia’s first mobile abattoir hits the road

Australian agricultural technology company, Provenir, wants to eliminate live animal transport with the release of its new mobile abattoir. The technology seeks to improve the welfare of the livestock, which means they will no longer need to be transported long distances, thus making the process more efficient.

Chris Balazs, CEO and co-founder of Provenir, said that based on his experience as a farmer, loading livestock is difficult work that comes with a risk of losing the animals.

“Mobile processing makes so much sense, for farmers, for livestock and for consumers. It’s the way of the future for red meat in Australia,” he said. “As a farmer myself, I hate loading my livestock onto the back of a truck. I work so hard to get them in top condition only to risk losing it all to a bad trip. I always knew there had to be a better way.

To ensure full traceability, Provenir is vertically integrated, with full control of the entire value chain, from on-farm processing in the commercially licensed mobile abattoir, through to artisan butchering, and sales and distribution of the packaged Provenir-branded meat product

“We understand that for today’s consumer, knowing the provenance of their food, how it was produced, and whether it meets their personal values, is imperative to their purchasing decision,” said Balazs.

Former CEO of Melbourne IT Theo Hnarakis said that he supports the disruptive business model of Provenir and their potential to make a difference.

“Provenir’s philosophy of disruption of an established industry piqued my initial interest. The vertically integrated value chain model, enhanced animal welfare, full traceability and improved quality of product for consumers confirmed this was more than a great idea,” he said.




Buyout of Western Meat Packers Abattoir

Rod and Shana Russell have completed a buyout of Russell and Lee family members in Western Meat Packers Group’s Margaret River abattoir. This means the couple now have 100 per cent ownership of all assets of Western Meat Packers Group, which employs 360 people and has an annual turnover of about $150 million.

Announcing the successful buyout, WMPG CEO Andrew Fuda said such a positive investment by the founders of the business, which began in 1983, signalled an exciting stage in the beef company’s future.

With a five day a week throughput of about 400 cattle a day and some relief in sight in terms of cattle supply, the Margaret River facility, located on a 100-hectare site and employing 100 people, is implementing significant chiller capacity upgrades and other fitouts to accommodate developing export market prospects.

“Although we currently send all beef, typically sides and quarters, overnight to WMPG’s Osborne Park boning and packing facility to ensure rapid turnaround from paddock to plate, we’re moving towards boning and packing at our Margaret River plant to optimise expanding business opportunities in Asia in particular,” Fuda said.

“A new integrated chiller and freezer unit at Margaret River will allow faster packing and freezing, minimising shrinkage while also improving yields of offals, which are becoming increasingly sought after by WMPG’s Asian export customers.

According to Fuda, the new fitout also meant that shifts could be expanded and processing could move to seven days, with a weekly slaughter capacity of more than 4000 head.

“Also, with chilling and freezing all under one roof and on the site where the cattle are slaughtered and processed, it’ll put us in the frame for export listings for China and Malaysia, both markets we’ve been working on for quite some time,” he said

“The Western Meat Packers brand and reputation for quality and reliability in Asian markets, developed and nurtured over 30 plus years by Rod and senior management gives us confidence that once equipped with the appropriate listings, we can move quickly to supply.”

Jamie Warburton Andrew Fuda at WMPG Margaret River.
Jamie Warburton Andrew Fuda at WMPG Margaret River.

Wiley to upgrade Australian meat processor

A Casino based livestock processing company, Northern Co-operative Meat Company Ltd (NCMC) is gearing for long-term growth. 

The upgrade and expansion investment will enable its many operators meet increased national and international demand for premium Australian meat. Brisbane based international food facilities designer, Wiley has been trusted to deliver on the four-stage project set to run over 2016.

The projects consist of design and construction of a new state-of-the-art cold chain management facility, design and construction of a beef knocking box and race system, design, supply and install of a steam repair and relocation, and finally the Tannery wastewater treatment plant upgrade.

NCMC Chief Executive Officer Simon Stahl said: “We have more than 100 operators who use our facilities in Casino to process their livestock. Our main focus is to provide them with efficient facilities using a highly trained workforce and specialised equipment to service all major global markets including Australia, the USA, China, Japan, Korea, European Union, Halal and organic markets.

“We chose Wiley to undertake the design and construction of our latest projects because we are confident in their specialist knowledge of the demanding standards of food safety and hygiene, especially in meat and across the cold chain production line.”

“The knocking box and race system are a pivotal part of our abattoir and will set the rhythm for the rest of the facility. Wiley have experience in designing to international standards of animal welfare and this design complied with design principles created by US animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin.

Wiley Managing Director Tom Wiley said: “NCMC has been around for nearly as long as we have and are well known as an industry leader in red meat processing.

“Our team has worked closely with NCMC over the last few years to understand the requirements of each project and their desire to continue providing quality services and products to its customers servicing Australia and the world. They have strong values, which align with ours, which further strengthens our long-standing relationship with them.

Wiley Senior Project Manager Barry Murphy said, “The design we came up with improves carton management, increases storage capacity on site, and improves load-out capabilities, ultimately reducing manual handling, forklift movements, and creating a safer environment for all workers.”

“We’ll also be installing an ASRS automated sortation and retrieval system, which is the first of its kind used in a frozen environment in Australia and only the second in the world. This system provides NCMC with the ability to better manage product flow and traceability.”

“We’re pleased that the building footprint and the equipment we have selected will allow NCMC to expand and modify their operations in the future.

“Meanwhile, our works on the Tannery infrastructure will improve the segregation of the water waste streams.”

Chicken without the blood and guts or CO2

According to Abigail Klein Leichman, associate editor at ISRAEL21c, an Israeli foundation is first in the world to research mass production of cultured chicken breast, a real meat product starting from a single cell of a real bird.

Israel’s Modern Agriculture Foundation (MAF) has joined the quest to mass-produce cultured meat, launching the only such project to concentrate on chicken — the second most popular meat on the planet next to pork. Every day, 23 million chickens are killed for food in the United States alone, wrote Leichman.

“We are a group of caring individuals who came to the conclusion that what the world needs urgently, in terms of helping both the environment and animals, is for everybody to go vegan,” says MAF cofounder Shir Friedman, “but that’s not realistic. So when we heard about the idea of cultured meat, we realized this is a way to reduce harm to animals and the environment while giving people the meat they want to eat.”

The all-volunteer nonprofit organisation was founded in March last year, and by January launched the world’s first feasibility study to determine the cost, timetable and resources to create commercial cultured chicken breast.

That privately funded study, headed by Prof. Amit Gefen at Tel Aviv University, is to be completed by January 2016.

“We are targeting the development of a tissue-engineered chicken breast, which is a popular choice for a main course in many cultures and countries, to test feasibility of the concept and, in particular, to identify gaps in knowledge and challenges on the route to commercial production,” said Gefen, who hopes to develop a meat free of animal tissues or byproducts.

“Researchers and entrepreneurs who will take part in our project will help redesign the food industry and move it forward into a cleaner, healthier and environmentally friendly world,” she says. “Our main goal is to hasten the day when cultured meat is sold in stores. The sooner this day comes, the less damage our planet will suffer.”

Leichman wrote that cultured meat production requires between seven and 45 per cent less energy, 90 per cent less fresh water and 99 per cent less land, and would result in 80 to 90 per cent less greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere.

“If 2.5 billion people join us in eating only cultured meat by 2050, we get all those resources back. It’s truly a magic solution,” Friedman told ISRAEL21c.

One of the MAF’s biggest challenges is to convince people that cultured meat is not “Frankenfood” and involves no genetic engineering. It is not a meat substitute, but 100 per cent meat. When produced on a mass scale, cultured meat won’t be made in a lab but in a factory just like any other processed food from ketchup to cornflakes.

Cultured meat production begins by incubating stem cells in a nutrient-rich medium that helps the cells grow and divide. Scaffolds and other technological aids help the cells form a thin layer of muscle tissue, a.k.a. meat.

“We are simply letting biology do its thing, letting cells create the muscle tissue they know how to create. The meat will be identical in taste and flavor and ingredients to meat from an animal — if anything, healthier because we can control the amount of cholesterol and fat,” says Friedman. “It will be a very sustainable way to feed the planet.”

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