Food chain ramps up production level

Food chain ramps up production level

Beef
DIET CHOICE: The run on red meat was a clear message that the product was a staple of the diets of consumers during a crisis and according to industry should be an essential service.

DIET CHOICE: The run on red meat was a clear message that the product was a staple of the diets of consumers during a crisis and according to industry should be an essential service.

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Panic buying of food has seen processors escalate production to meet the unprecedented demand. The sector is also bracing for the impact of an inevitable posi...

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Panic buying of food has seen processors escalate production to meet the unprecedented demand.

The sector is also bracing for the impact of an inevitable positive test to the coronavirus among its workforce.

Meat processors have lifted their processing capacity by 25 per cent however fear of a forced plant closure remains.

At retail level, sales and demand have risen to levels unseen as butchers report takings for one day exceeding their normal weekly totals.

Sinclair Meats owner Steve Sinclair, Ballarat, said his trade had increased ten-fold.

"We have doubled the stock numbers we buy, we are working to absolute capacity," Mr Sinclair said.

At the same time, cattle and sheep numbers flowing into the prime and store pens have risen dramatically.

The rise was partly due to livestock producers cashing in on current high prices, concerns about future demand and a tightening season.

Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said the panic buying by consumers was a clear signal that red meat was a staple of their diets in a time of crisis.

Mr Hutchinson said governments needed to respond by treating the meat supply chain as an essential service.

The government needed to ensure the industry could keep the supply chain moving without major impact.

AMIC members had in place best practice procedures at plant level for micro biological management, sterilisation and sanitation.

In the case of a positive test to the virus, state health ministers needed to understand the procedures that were in place, effectively manage it and then ensure that the supply chain was re-opened as quickly as possible.

Red Meat Advisory Council chair Don Mackay said everyone in the beef and sheepmeat supply chain was focused on working with supermarkets and butchers to keep them supplied.

"There is no doubt processors are dealing with big challenges at the moment. A number of things are being put in place to ensure we can get the system to continue to work effectively, including eliminating unnecessary regulatory hurdles while maintaining the rigour of audits," Mr Mackay said.

Australian Lamb Company chief financial manager Dale Smith, Colac, said the largely export processor had ramped up health checks for employees and contractors.

All staff entering the plant daily were asked questions about their health and any symptoms they might have.

He said the company had acted to minimise entry of people to the site and introduced additional daily cleaning processes and education of employees.

It was a shared responsibility between the company and the employees. The company had put in place a range of measures while employees needed to be responsible for knowing when they were unwell and not coming to the site.

Mr Smith said it was "business as usual" for buying.

He said the company's export markets were there; the challenge was the mode of transportation to those markets was changing daily.

The story Food chain ramps up production level first appeared on Stock & Land.

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