Alliance is rolling out cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology designed to identify eating quality in beef and lamb.
The company is partnering with Australian agtech solutions provider MEQ to deploy lamb and beef probes to measure the intramuscular fat (IMF) levels in lamb and marbling percentages in beef.
The technology provides a real-time view of the eating quality of the meat produced across Alliance’s plant network.
IMF and ageing are believed to be the two largest contributors to the sensory experience when eating quality meat.
MEQ’s beef and lamb probes rely on the only technology of its kind to have been industry accredited by key Australian red meat body AUS-MEAT. The technology uses a combination of spectral analysis and AI to accurately measure IMF in a carcase at the beginning of processing to capture a “fingerprint” within a loin muscle.
This will provide the co-operative with objective measurable data to give farmers information about the quality of the meat they are supplying. Farmers will then be able to make informed decisions about breeding programmes and feed, which lead to more sustainable livestock management.
Alliance has been trialling the technology at two of its plants, Smithfield (Timaru) and Pukeuri (Ōamaru) over the past nine months.
“Quality farming and quality processes are integral to Alliance’s promise of delivering only the best red meat to the world,” Alliance chief executive Willie Wiese 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.
“Through the use of MEQ’s cutting-edge technology, we can deliver strong IMF feedback to farmers. Working with MEQ arms us with the best data very early in our processes. The benefits of this insight will flow down throughout the entire supply chain, and ultimately to the end consumer.”
MEQ’s probe technology does not require carcases to be chilled in order to measure IMF or marbling. This means that Alliance will also gain more time to determine cut design plans and optimise carcase value and allocation into branded ranges. The technology also saves on chiller space and reduces energy consumption.
“As New Zealand’s leading red meat processor and exporter, Alliance shares our dedication to bringing top-quality products to global markets,” MEQ chief executive Remo Carbone said.
“Our AI-powered technology is unique in the way that it slots in seamlessly within processors’ existing infrastructure, but monumentally increases optimisation from herd and mob management all the way to chiller space at the point of carcase breakdown. The information gathered by the probes has transformative implications for each stage of the process.”