A $297,000 grant to a Longreach game meat processing business could herald the start of a more foolproof means of traceability for the industry at large.
Ben Cameron, the director of Western Game Processing, said he was motivated to apply for money under the federal government's Traceability Grants Program because of the messiness of the paper system currently in use.
"Leg tags are pitiful for shooters to write out, and it falls off in the factory and contaminates the meat," he said. "With the technology we've got, I couldn't see why we couldn't use it."
The money will go towards the development of an app to record real-time harvesting data of macropods from point of origin to the Longreach processing facility, "allowing for provenance and traceability to grow a robust international export market", according to the Department of Agriculture's website.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said that underpinning the reliability and sustainability of game meat was becoming increasingly important.
"This grant will go towards creating an app and an internet dashboard to log real-time kangaroo harvesting data, from point of origin to processing," he said.
"While data is currently collected on kangaroos harvested, this system will eliminate the need for harvesters to manually record data using paper tags.
"By digitising the data, we can enhance traceability for biosecurity and food recall, which is important for accessing foreign markets.
"Being able to quickly trace kangaroos back to the harvester and the harvest area will also assist in identifying and addressing animal welfare concerns that may arise."
Mr Cameron said that as well as giving inspectors instant access to information about where and when any animal in the facility was shot, it sped the whole process up and made it more efficient.
He will have been in business for four years at the end of June, reopening the facility that hadn't been operating for eight years.
He processes between 2500 and 3000 kangaroos a week, 80 per cent of which goes to Prime100 petfood rolls based in Melbourne, while the rest is fed to crocodiles in Darwin.
Longreach Regional Council Mayor Tony Rayner said Western Game Processing was to be congratulated for growing the business, creating further employment and value-adding to the macropod business.
Mr Cameron said that while the project would start off with the kangaroo harvesters who supply the Longreach facility, he was aiming to make it available to the Australian game meat industry as a whole.
"This system will enhance access to the traceability of each kangaroo as they move along the supply chain - from paddock to plate," he said. "Data collected and shared with stakeholders will also ensure the sustainability of kangaroo populations."
Mr Littleproud said consumers both in Australia and internationally wanted greater transparency and real time advice about the origin and safety of product in the modern digital marketplace.
"By tapping into the innovation and ingenuity of Australian industry, these round two projects will give Aussie exporters the competitive edge."
The project is one of 14 to receive funding under round two of the Traceability Grants Program, which aims to provide exporters with an advantage as well as enhance agriculture supply chain traceability.
Some $7m is being invested by the federal government in traceability projects from 2019 to 2023.
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