X-ray tech to boost re­turns

Great Southern Herald - - News - Bob Gar­nant

WA Meat Mar­ket­ing Co-op­er­a­tive will be the first pro­ces­sor in the State to in­tro­duce DEXA tech­nol­ogy, with the in­stal­la­tion sched­uled for Septem­ber next year.

WAMMCO chair­man Craig Heg­ga­ton, who spoke at the co-op­er­a­tive’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing re­cently, said a por­tion of the fund­ing was be­ing driven by Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to look at what in­vest­ments can make us (WAMMCO) more prof­itable,” he said.

“WAMMCO is work­ing on tight mar­gins, with its 2017-18 pre-tax net profit (be­fore pool bonus of $4.3 mil­lion) of $20.02 mil­lion con­verted to just 50¢/kg of pro­cessed qual­i­fy­ing lambs.”

Mr Heg­ga­ton said the sheep­meat mar­ket was con­sis­tently buoy­ant through­out the fi­nan­cial year.

“The big­gest threat is the lack of sheep num­bers,” he said.

WAMMCO chief ex­ec­u­tive Col MacRury said the new DEXA X-ray unit would give pro­duc­ers more indepth in­for­ma­tion about their stock and would al­low the com­pany to move to­wards robotic cut­ting in two to three years.

Mur­doch Univer­sity pro­fes­sor David Pethick said DEXA, cur­rently in use at JBS plants, was pre­dictable on scan­ning the weight of car­case cuts and fat.

“If pro­ces­sors could fine-tune how they de­liver the ap­pro­pri­ate lamb car­cases to mar­kets, there could be a po­ten­tial in­crease in value of $2 to $4 a car­case,” he said.

“The other po­ten­tial value earner is in mea­sur­ing in­tra­mus­cu­lar fat, which is highly her­i­ta­ble, but this tech­nol­ogy is still in the re­search and de­vel­op­ment phase.”

Mr MacRury said these tech­nolo­gies were par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to WA be­cause of its com­mit­ment to de­liv­er­ing prod­uct to pre­mium ex­port mar­kets.

“Over­seas mar­kets may favour pro­ces­sors who use DEXA tech­nol­ogy,” he said. “Cur­rently, pre­mium mar­kets are seek­ing an­tibi­otic-free prod­ucts.”

Mr MacRury said other adop­tion of plant-ef­fi­cient tech­nolo­gies be­ing un­der­taken at the Katan­ning fa­cil­ity in­cluded a new wa­ter re­cy­cling unit plus a ReNu En­ergy de­vel­op­ment of a bio­gas and so­lar in­stal­la­tion.

“We are propos­ing to split Katan­ning’s value-added bon­ing sec­tion into two spe­cialised rooms ded­i­cated dis­tinctly to ei­ther lamb or mut­ton, which will im­prove pro­cess­ing ef­fi­cien­cies,” he said.

Newly ap­pointed WAMMCO board direc­tor Bill O’Keefe, a com­mer­cial lamb pro­ducer from Gnowangerup, said he hoped to make a con­tri­bu­tion dur­ing a time of record lamb prices.

“It is im­por­tant to look at the big pic­ture for the in­dus­try to re­main sus­tain­able,” he said.

WAMMCO chair­man Craig Heg­ga­ton.

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