Macro Meats rebrands its kangaroo meat

South Australia-based Macro Meats has rebranded its kangaroo meat from Gourmet Game to K-ROO in a bid to encourage people nationwide to incorporate the uniquely Aussie meat into their diets.

The rebrand, by Sydney branding agency Tiny Hunter, has already resulted in a 20 per cent increase in sales. It included brand strategy, messaging, and visual look and feel which has been rolled out across packaging, website, social media, and print.

The official launch campaign ‘Eat Roo Too’, aims to build on this success and includes a flagship film.

Speaking of the new brand and campaign, Ray Borda, founder of Macro Meats and K-ROO, said: “Kangaroo is a uniquely Australian meat which is both incredibly healthy and sustainable. It’s 98% fat free and full of zinc and iron. It is never farmed, but sourced from the natural environment.

“Our ultimate aim is to encourage Australians to incorporate kangaroo into their diets alongside the staples of chicken, beef, pork and lamb. To do this, we knew that we needed to challenge the assumptions that surround kangaroo meat, such as the ease of cooking and the versatility.”

The new brand can already be seen online and in stockists including Aldi, Coles, IGA, Woolworths and Foodlands.

Asia’s growing appetite for kangaroo

JAPANESE diners are developing a taste for kangaroo, helping to drive demand for the Australian product across Asia.

The world’s largest premium kangaroo meat distributor has seen a 400 per cent increase in sales to Japan in the past year and is now sending about 50 tonnes there every month.

South Australian company Macro Meats is also enjoying strong growth in Hong Kong where it sends about 25 tonnes of kangaroo meat each month. Other Asian markets include Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea.

“The good thing about Hong Kong and Japan is they are both trendsetters in Asia,” Managing Director Ray Borda said.

Macro Meats commercialised production of kangaroo in the late 1980s and now processes about 10,000 tonnes of the lean red meat a year for human consumption in more than 30 countries.

Based in the South Australian capital Adelaide, the company has staff working overseas meeting with chefs and distributors and showcasing kangaroo dishes at AusTrade functions.

Borda said it was important to start with high-end restaurants to begin building demand when entering a new market before broadening out to retail so that consumers can prepare it in their homes.

“You’ve got to pick the countries that are looking for premium products and are not looking to just buy on price,” he said.

“Four of five years ago kangaroo was seen as a cheap protein. Now it is a protein that is seen as equivalent to beef but with some added benefits such as high protein, low fat, high iron and omega-3.

“It is also more exclusive and Asia likes exclusivity – you can get beef from 50 countries around the world but kangaroo is unique to Australia.”

Europe is still Macro Meats’ biggest export market but the company is looking to capitalise on the strong recent gains in Asia by developing a processing plant someplace in the region.

Macro Meats sells about 75 per cent of its kangaroo products in Australia.

Export rules require meat to be shipped from Australia in whole pieces, making it less appealing to the cook-at-home market.

Borda said having an Asian processing plant would allow for expert preparation of ready to cook products that would take demand to the next level.

He said it would likely also help advance the company’s market access application to export kangaroo meat into China, which has been a 12-year process.

“We’re probably six months away from finding a location,” he said.

“It’s a difficult thing because you have to look at their business laws around taxation, labour, foreign investment and it’s a big commitment.

“Once you start value adding products you can start producing shabu-shabu or stir fry strips and that will definitely accelerate demand it further,” he said.

Macro Meats also plans to develop a processing plant in Europe.

There are an estimated 50-60 million kangaroos in Australia. About 2.5 million kangaroos are commercially harvested a year.

Although only found in Australia, kangaroos are one of the most common large wild land mammals on earth.

Qld kangaroo meat processing ramps up with new facilty

Barco Queensland has opened a new kangaroo meat processing plant in Charleville to produce meat for human consumption and pet food.

The company has secured contracts to supply to food service, small goods companies and an Australian independent supermarket chain.

Barco Queensland is owned by Gold Coast-based pet food manufacturer Millennium Pet Foods. The plant will start out processing 1000 kangaroos per week, however general manager Daniel McGettigan expects this number to quadruple.

“The demand is very big, very big,” McGettigan told the ABC.

“I really, personally think in a matter of a few months we could be killing 3000 to 4000 ‘roos a week and not have any trouble dispersing of the product.”

Barco Queensland intends to produce kangaroo meat for human consumption and pet food.

The company is currently supplying cuts directly for food service in Sydney, and remains such as trim for small goods companies that distribute to Brisbane and Sydney. It has also secured contracts with wholesale produce distributor Metcash, which owns IGA supermarkets.

Additionally, the abattoir is processing 30 to 40 wild boars each week, which go direct into food service in Sydney.

McGettigan believes infrastructure upgrades and the installation of more chiller boxes around the region would help increase processing in the abattoir.

Kangaroo meat company to expand in Europe

Macro Meats commercialised production of kangaroo in the late 1980s and now processes about 10,000 tonnes of the lean red meat a year for human consumption in more than 30 countries.

The South Australian company sells about 75 per cent of its kangaroo products domestically but is looking to grow sales in its major export markets of Europe, North America and Asia.

Next month, Macro Meats will be among 7000 exhibitors at SIAL Paris – the world’s largest food innovation show – where it will launch a species-specific range of premium kangaroo meat.

Macro Meats Managing Director Ray Borda said the growth in Europe had been driven by chefs who had professionally prepared the high protein, low fat red meat.

Moving from success in restaurants to finding a place in retail outlets with everyday kangaroo products such as hamburgers, sausages, meatballs and stir-fry strips has been a key to Macro Meats’ success in Australia.

However, export rules require meat to be shipped from Australia in whole pieces, making it less appealing to the cook-at-home market.

“You’ve got to start in the restaurants because they know how to cook it properly but the next stage is allowing the consumer to buy it and that’s why we’re opening our own value-adding processing plant in Europe,” Borda said.

There are an estimated 50-60 million kangaroos in Australia. About 2.5 million kangaroos are commercially harvested a year.

Although only found in Australia, kangaroos are one of the most common large wild land mammals on earth.

Macro Meats’ species-specific range is designed to promote greater consistency for consumers and will include the mild tasting Paroo (red kangaroo), medium flavoured Mallee Roo (western grey kangaroo) and the robust Mulga Roo (eastern grey kangaroo).

“The Australian consumer wants more of a milder kangaroo, whereas Asia, Germany and a few other places like something that’s a bit more robust with a little bit of a stronger flavour,” Borda said.

“Different meat of different ages from different species out of different areas have different moisture content and it tastes different and it cooks different.

“We’re trying to give it consistency.”

Borda said the high quality lean meat was popular among bodybuilders looking for new sources of protein as well as diners looking for a new food experience.

“Restaurants around the world just want something different,” he said.

“It takes a lot of explaining but we’re getting there slowly and it’s so exclusive you can only get it from one place in the world.

“Maybe in the early days people did have what we used to call ‘Skippy-syndrome’ but now it’s changed so much so that our biggest week of the year nationally and internationally is Australia Day week.”

Eat locals: swapping sheep and cows for kangaroos and camels could help our environment

We may be what we eat, but our dietary choices also affect the health of the environment, and farmers’ back pockets.

Energy and water use, native habitat cut down for crops and grazing, and emissions that exacerbate climate change, are just some of the profound effects agriculture has on Earth. And, there are more and more mouths to feed.

Perversely, both starvation and obesity are severe health issues across the world. With agriculture confronted by economic and environmental uncertainties, society faces enormous challenges.

But challenges also offer great opportunities. Drastically rethinking what we eat, and where and how food is produced, could help our health, the planet, and our farming businesses.

That means eating fewer sheep and cows, and more kangaroos, feral animals, and insects.

Unsustainable farming

Australia’s rangelands – the drier regions of the country predominantly used for livestock and grazing – cover about 80% of the country. They are often in poor condition and economically unviable. In part, this is due to the fact we still farm many animals, mostly in ways that are unsuited to the Australian climate and environment.

Hard-hoofed animals contribute to soil compaction and erosion, and have even been linked to the spread of the invasive cane toad. But the environmental impact of intensive stock farming extends much further.

Continuing to farm using a European-derived, intensive system is a recipe for land degradation and environmental collapse, especially with the compounding impacts of climate change (severe weather events, more frequent and intense droughts, and fires).

Starving stock in Julia Creek, Qld (1952).
Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 4413

 

Past and current agricultural practices have also profoundly altered our environment. It may be impossible to restore these lands to their original condition, so we must learn to operate in the new environment we’ve created.

More broadly, many experts have identified our meat consumption and intensive farming as a significant driver of global problems.

Treading lightly

To address these issues, we need a cultural shift away from intensive agriculture. The days of riding and relying on the sheep’s back, cattle’s hoof, or the more recent, and increasingly popular, chicken’s wing, may need to pass.

Native wildlife and some feral animals tread more lightly on the environment than intensively produced livestock do, and thus provide more sustainable options for food production on Australia’s arid lands. Kangaroos and goats place one-third of the pressure on grazing lands compared with sheep.

We already eat some of these animals, but could arguably eat more of them, including feral goats, camels, deer, rabbits, pigs, and buffalo, as well as native emus and kangaroos.

Camels are already on the menu.
Camel image from www.shutterstock.com

 

Yet more extreme proposals could include feral donkeys, cats, horses; and even cane toads. Horses are already consumed in Europe and cats in central Australia.

Eating more feral and native animals, and relying less on chicken, sheep, domestic pigs, and cattle would help meet ethical concerns too. Wild animals such as kangaroos are killed quickly, without the extended stress associated with industrialised farming, containment, and transportation to abattoirs.

And by harvesting sometimes overabundant wild native animals (such as kangaroos) and feral species, we may be able to reduce their impacts on ecosystems, which include overgrazing and damage to waterways.

An even greater leap would be to eat fewer four-limbed animals and more six-legged creatures. Insects are often high in protein and low in fat, and can be produced in large numbers, efficiently and quickly. They are already consumed in large numbers in some regions, including Asia.

Evidence that a market for such a food revolution exists is that shops are already popping up selling mealworm flour, ant seasoning salt, and cricket protein powder, among other delicacies.

A six-legged diet is even better.
Insect image from www.shutterstock.com

Boom and bust

Thanks to Australia’s variable climate, swinging between drought and flood, many farms are also tied to a boom-and-bust cycle of debt and credit.

As the climate becomes increasingly unpredictable, this economic strategy must be detrimental to the farmers, and is shown by many farm buy-backs or sell-offs.

It makes sense to use species that are naturally more resilient and able to respond to boom-and-bust cycles. Kangaroos and other species can forage on our ancient and typically nutrient-poor soils without the need for nutritional supplements (such as salt licks), and are physiologically more efficient at conserving water. This could lead to a more sustainable supply of food and income for farmers, without the dizzying economic highs but also without the inevitable prolonged and despairing lows.

Future-proofing

To be clear, we are not suggesting completely replacing livestock, but diversifying and tailoring enterprises to better suit Australia’s environment.

To support more diverse agricultural enterprises we will need to overcome many obstacles, such as licences to hunt, what we’re comfortable consuming, and land use regulation. But we shouldn’t shy away from these challenges. There are tremendous opportunities for rural, regional and Indigenous communities, and indeed cities too.

We need a more diverse mix of meat to adapt to the pressures of a growing population and climate change. Supermarket aisles that display beef, chicken, pork and lamb, alongside kangaroo, camel, deer, goat, and insects, could be just what the environmental, health and economic doctors ordered.

The Conversation

Euan Ritchie, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin University and Adam Munn, Adjunct lecturer, UNSW Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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