In a bold move set to revolutionise the global red meat sector, New Zealand's leading food and solutions co-operative, Alliance Group, has joined forces with Australian agtech solutions provider MEQ to unveil a groundbreaking technology aimed at identifying the holy grail of meat quality.
This cutting-edge artificial intelligence, known as MEQ technology, promises to redefine the way we perceive and produce top-tier beef and lamb.
Alliance's ambitious endeavour involves the deployment of lamb and beef probes equipped with state-of-the-art machine learning and artificial intelligence. These probes are set to measure Intramuscular Fat (IMF) levels in lamb and marbling percentages in beef, providing a real-time insight into the eating quality of the meat produced across Alliance's extensive plant network.
Willie Wiese, the CEO of Alliance Group, expressed enthusiasm about the potential of this technological leap, stating,
"Quality farming and quality processes are integral to Alliance’s promise of delivering only the best red meat to the world," he said.
"Our farmers are always hungry for detailed information about the quality of their animals because ultimately higher IMF and marbling readings translate into greater returns for them and the co-operative."
The MEQ technology stands out as the only one of its kind to receive industry accreditation from the prominent Australian red meat body, AUS-MEAT. Utilising a combination of spectral analysis and AI, MEQ's probes accurately measure IMF in a carcass at the beginning of processing, creating a unique 'fingerprint' within a loin muscle.
Trials of this revolutionary technology have been underway at Alliance's Smithfield (Timaru) and Pukeuri (Oamaru) plants for the past nine months.
Wiese emphasised the potential benefits for farmers, highlighting that the objective, measurable data provided by the probes would empower farmers to make informed decisions about breeding programs and feed, contributing to more sustainable livestock management.
MEQ CEO Remo Carbone underscored the collaborative nature of this venture.
"As New Zealand’s leading red meat processor and exporter, Alliance shares our dedication to bringing top-quality products to global markets.
"We are very pleased to be working with them to reshape the future of farming by providing real-time, data-backed insights."
One of the groundbreaking aspects of MEQ's probe technology is its ability to measure IMF or marbling without requiring carcasses to be chilled. This not only saves time but also allows Alliance to optimise cut design plans, enhance carcase value, and allocate products into branded ranges.
Additionally, the technology reduces the need for chiller space and minimises energy consumption, aligning with sustainable practices.
Wiese elaborated on the broader implications of this technological leap.
"It will enable us to build up and scale our premium programs, which is a growing part of our business, and allow us to further differentiate our product offering to target consumers."
As Alliance Group pioneers the integration of MEQ's cutting-edge technology into its processes, the ripple effects are expected to cascade down the entire supply chain, ultimately delivering a superior product to consumers worldwide.
The collaboration between Alliance and MEQ is not just about modernizing the industry—it's a revolutionary stride toward ensuring a future where quality, sustainability, and innovation converge on our plates.