Black­fella Beef

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News - Kir­ili Lamb Kir­ili.Lamb@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

IT’S A young idea for an an­cient cul­ture, and a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties lie ahead for Murri Yuri, or Black­fella Beef.

Indige­nous-branded beef could have op­tions not only to ex­port into Asian mar­kets, but also to mar­ket do­mes­ti­cally.

It might be cold chain meat prod­ucts or per­haps long shelf life protein prod­ucts such as jerky and en­ergy bars.

It could be pro­duced by in­di­vid­ual busi­nesses, or through a net­work of indige­nous-owned prop­er­ties; it could link to other bush-food pro­duc­ers; it could even have po­ten­tial as a cen­tre for tourism.

There are a mul­ti­tude of possible paths be­ing ex­plored through a new re­search part­ner­ship project be­tween Western Kan­goulu cat­tle prop­er­ties, Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia, and the Univer­sity of South­ern Queens­land’s agri­cul­tural value chains and food sys­tems team, headed up by Pro­fes­sor Alice Wood­head.

Pro­fes­sor Wood­head said her team was help­ing Western Kan­goulu to de­velop the “Black­fella Beef” con­cept, ex­tend­ing on beef pro­duc­tion al­ready es­tab­lished by the group on prop­er­ties such as Uran­nah Sta­tion.

“We are help­ing them to de­velop their brand, to de­velop their value chain, to de­velop new prod­ucts and po­ten­tial mar­kets for their prod­ucts,” Pro­fes­sor Wood­head said.

“From their point of view, they are go­ing to share a whole lot of in­for­ma­tion with us about their man­age­ment prac­tices, their stock man­age­ment in par­tic­u­lar, and they will then look at how they can im­prove their pro­duc­tion to op­ti­mise their land.

“On a fol­low-on ba­sis, once we’ve done this pi­lot study we are look­ing at tak­ing this ap­proach across other indige­nous groups in Aus­tralia who are in­ter­ested in tak­ing up branded beef prod­ucts.”

The USQ team in­cludes spe­cial­ists in food tech­nol­ogy, lo­gis­tics, brand­ing and ex­port.

The project will see col­lab­o­ra­tion to find the right fit of prod­uct for Western Kan­goulu, es­tab­lish­ing a busi­ness model that can be trans­ferred to other indige­nous or­gan­i­sa­tions.

The ap­proach will see the idea of beef and cat­tle shifted from a cat­tle-com­mod­ity ba­sis to ex­plor­ing a range of val­ueadding pro­cesses that make use of more of the beast than sim­ply its best and most pop­u­lar cuts, and that al­low the pro­ducer to re­tain brand­ing of the prod­uct from paddock to plate, and po­ten­tially tak­ing con­trol of a larger por­tion of the prod­uct’s sup­ply chain.

“Beef is tra­di­tion­ally thought of as a steak or a roast, a fresh or chilled beef prod­uct, but the re­al­ity is that beef is a protein that can be used in a wide va­ri­ety of prod­ucts,” Prof Wood­head said.

“We’re go­ing to look at how they can build a brand around a much wider range of prod­ucts, from dried shelf stable prod­ucts that don’t have the con­straints of cold chains, and the need to keep the beef in a cer­tain con­di­tion, through to op­ti­mum beef pat­ties, which might be flavoured by par­tic­u­lar herbs and spices that are bush foods.

“We’re look­ing at en­ergy foods. One of the things I’ve noted when talk­ing with the group is that they have a very strong so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity ap­proach.

“For ex­am­ple, they are in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing a high protein beef en­ergy bar, which could be used by chil­dren who get to school in the morn­ing in re­mote or even in city ar­eas, and who don’t have a proper break­fast.

“This would give the chil­dren that men­tal edge to have a bet­ter day at school.

“So, we’re go­ing to look at a wide range of prod­ucts and how to po­si­tion their brand, based on so­cial en­trepreneur­ship and eth­i­cal ap­proaches as well as fi­nan­cial prof­itabil­ity, and un­der­pin­ning that will be help­ing them con­sider the en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues in terms of the man­age­ment of their land and how to op­ti­mise pro­duc­tion, but at the same time manag­ing droughts etcetera.”

Pro­fes­sor Wood­head is also a board mem­ber of the Aus­tralian ASEAN Coun­cil.

“My team has been work­ing closely with ASEAN coun­tries, look­ing at what their de­mands will be into the fu­ture, which are life­style high en­ergy prod­ucts, but it’s also high­lighted to me their in­ter­est in indige­nous cul­ture,” she said.

“They want prod­ucts to have mean­ing, to have some cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance.

“So it was the mar­riage of two in­ter­est­ing con­cepts.

“The fact that there’s a lot of health prop­er­ties in our Aus­tralian indige­nous plants, and that could be com­bined with a high protein prod­uct like beef.

“That was an ex­cel­lent mar­riage of prod­ucts for the Asian mar­ket.

“The de­mand for

We are look­ing at tak­ing this ap­proach across other indige­nous groups in Aus­tralia.

— Alice Wood­head

trace­abil­ity is re­ally strong, and peo­ple want to have an eth­i­cal prod­uct as well.

“And this can mean the Asian con­sumer can po­ten­tially be linked back straight to the indige­nous cat­tle farm­ers in Aus­tralia, and they can be as­sured that they are sup­port­ing indige­nous farm­ing.

“There’s a whole cul­ture around indige­nous cat­tle­men, renowned for their bril­liant horse­man­ship, and those skills will be pro­moted as part of the brand.”

The pi­lot project will con­tinue to Septem­ber 2019, and Pro­fes­sor Wood­head is op­ti­mistic about how the project would have de­vel­oped by that time.

“We an­tic­i­pate we’ll have half a dozen or so value propo­si­tions set up, and well un­der way in their de­vel­op­ment,” she said.

“We would hope that they’ll be mov­ing into pro­duc­tion.

“They’ve got the cat­tle on the land right now, and we would hope we would be en­gag­ing a broader range of beef pro­duc­ers in Queens­land and Aus­tralia to work with us on de­vel­op­ing in scale.

“We’d like to have the brand well es­tab­lished by then, and we’d like to have all the

busi­ness model and the pro­cesses well-es­tab­lished and tested.”

Be­yond di­rect jobs cre­ated on cat­tle sta­tions, there are value-adds for re­gional and ru­ral eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment around a branded sup­ply chain in­clud­ing agri­cul­ture around grow­ing ad­di­tional

in­gre­di­ents like herbs and spices, food pro­cess­ing, trans­port, pack­ag­ing, even into tourism and restau­rants.

“What we aim to do is to cre­ate jobs in re­gional ar­eas that cre­ate food prod­ucts, rather than ex­port­ing beef and com­mod­ity cat­tle,” Pro­fes­sor Wood­head said.

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