Speaker Profile: Aimee Charteris

Smart Natural Food Systems – It can be done!

Significant opportunities exist for food producers to develop smart natural food systems that produce the most delicious and nutritious natural produce that focus on the well-being of “all” in the supply chain.  As food producers it is our responsibility to turn the focus to building outstanding natural produce from the ground up, however this requires a complete reset of purpose – quality and value not quantity.  The focus of the presentation is to explain how producers, processors and distributors can look at all parts of the value chain to produce truly great products in a smart but natural way.

The Omega Lamb programme aims to produce the world’s tastiest, healthiest lamb and increase returns for farmers. The programme is targeting premium markets through a new, healthier type of lamb meat – with higher levels of polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.

The challenge

Over the past 20 years, the sheep industry has focused on increasing lamb productivity and yield, selecting animals for lower fat levels. However, reducing fat has had unintended consequences.

Lower fat affects processing, cooking and taste of red meat – much of the flavour of meat comes from fat. Lower sheep fat (condition) also affects how well ewes cope in winter and raise their lambs.

The Omega Lamb programme recognised an opportunity to breed lambs that increase returns for farmers, while meeting the growing demand for premium healthy, tasty food.

The solution

Research found the right combination of genetics, management and pasture could be used to change the types and amounts of fat. Omega Lamb targets premium markets with a new type of lamb that has higher levels of polyunsaturated (good) fats and omega-3 fatty acids – producing healthier sheep, and healthier, tastier, more succulent meat.

Taste tests have already shown that good fat composition improves the taste of lamb, and in October 2016, an Omega Lamb dish won the silver medal in the Culinary Olympics in Germany.

Improved condition, also means Omega ewes are thriving better on New Zealand’s hill country and producing faster-growing lambs.

The Omega Lamb programme takes a new approach to naturally breeding, raising, processing and marketing premium New Zealand lamb. An understanding of the top end of the market is guiding on-farm processing and marketing decisions.

The programme could add over $400 million in domestic and export earnings, increase revenue for farmers by 34%, and deliver a 19-fold return on government investment.

For outcomes and more information, visit www.mpi.govt.nz

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