DEXA: Time for processors to get on board | Opinion

DEXA: Time for processors to get on board


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It is time for the Australian Meat Processing Corporation and Meat Industry Council to drive the implementation of the objective carcase management system, DEXA.

It is time for the Australian Meat Processing Corporation and Meat Industry Council to drive the implementation of the objective carcase management system, DEXA.

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It is time for the Australian Meat Processing Corporation and Meat Industry Council to drive the implementation of the objective carcase management system, DEXA.

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TIME is up. Both the Australian Meat Processing Corporation (AMPC) and Meat Industry Council (MIC) must now get on board and help drive the implementation of the voluntary, but hopefully industry-wide, objective carcase management system, DEXA.

That commitment includes co-funding Meat and Livestock Australia’s Project 150, a $150 million game changing technology that would finally enable Australian livestock producers to be paid for the actual amount of meat they produce. 

There is no question the current subjective assessment system based on weight and a P8 fat measure as a method of assessing carcase is yield is highly unreliable. At best the current system is somewhere between 10-80pc accurate. In other words, highly inaccurate. 

DEXA’s X-ray technology measures three factors: meat, fat and bone and consistently delivers those measurements with 88pc accuracy. It will enable the industry to capture carcase data resulting in massive productivity gains through genetic selection and on-farm management decisions including feeding and animal health. 

Now that the time-delaying EY report commissioned by AMPC and MIC is complete, recalcitrant meat processors have few arguments to object to the roll-out of DEXA. 

The reality is there is no sustainable argument that can be mounted showing the current subjective system meets the requirements of modern livestock industry. DEXA is already well proven in the sheepmeat processing and there are now ample results showing it is equally successful in beef. 

JBS Australia and Teys Australia are already implementing the technology. Australian Country Choice and Nolan Meats have also indicated it will make the shift and a number of processing companies are understood to be bypassing AMPC and MIC, and already are approaching Meat and Livestock Australia directly.

The roll-out of DEXA in all of Australia’s 90 AUS-MEAT plants is costed at $150m, hence the name Project 150. Producers are calling on processors through the cashed-up AMPC to fund half of the $75m industry contribution. The other half – $75m – is likely to come in the form of research dollars from the Australian government. 

Producers and processors should not be pitted as enemies. Certainly both groups operate in a competitive environment. However, the real competitors to Australia’s red meat industry are the US and Brazil.

- Queensland Country Life editorial, June 15, 2017.

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