Red meat looks to capture benefits from changes forced by COVID

Red meat looks to capture benefits from changes forced by COVID


Full digitalisation of livestock records the first cab off the rank.


THE red meat industry is working to capture long standing benefits from some of the changes to the way supply chains had to operate during the pandemic lockdown.

A key area being advanced is the digitalisation of livestock movement records and all information pertaining to animal transactions.

Red Meat Advisory Council chair Don Mackay said there were big advantages to transferring all paperwork to a digital form, including improved consistency, accuracy and traceability, reduced workload and - in a COVID-19 environment - reducing the number of people required to handle a document.

Full digitalisation effectively gives more certainty to the way the beef industry's integrity systems work, he said.

Mr Mackay said the work the red meat industry had put in as a whole industry to ensure food supply chains remained opened during lockdowns had paid big dividends.

"We were ahead of the game on many things, in particular higher-risk areas like processing. There was really only one hiccup (the Cedar Meats outbreak) and that was managed very well," he said.

Compared to other big beef producing nations, such as the United States and Brazil, Australia's red meat business is moving through the pandemic well.

Mr Mackay put that down to the systems and procedures in place across the sector which guarantee the high quality of Australian product - rigid sanitary requirements in abattoirs, for example.

But it was also a result of the 'terrifically co-operative' way in which the various sectors worked during the crisis, he said.

Meanwhile, the progress of industry restructure negotiations has been affected by virus disruptions.

RMAC has been overseeing a review of the industry's Memorandum of Understanding, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the various bodies that administer and invest industry levies.

A review last year culminated in the recommendation that a new single overarching body be set up, along with one body to manage all research and development and a third to look after integrity systems.

The third concept appears to have the most unified support and consultants PwC were commissioned to develop a business model for a new integrity unit.

That review is now finished and the next step will be the various industry players looking at what would need to happen to bring its recommendations into effect.

"It's fair to say there is limited support for the first new company, some support for the second but we are waiting on the result from government reports, and good support for the third," Mr Mackay said.

"Things have been slowed by COVID but the process is still moving along. No matter what happens, there will be improvements flow from the whole process."

The story Red meat looks to capture benefits from changes forced by COVID first appeared on Farm Online.


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