Alliance Invests In World-Leading Technology To Identify Holy Grail Of Meat Quality

29 Nov 2023

New Zealand’s leading food and solutions co-operative Alliance Group is blazing a trail in the global red meat sector with the roll-out of cutting-edge artificial intelligence MEQ technology designed to identify eating quality in beef and lamb across its entire plant network.

The company is partnering with Australian agtech solutions provider MEQ to deploy lamb and beef probes powered by sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence 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 are the only technology of its kind that has 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 carcass 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 visibility about the quality of the meat they are supplying. Farmers will then be able to make informed decisions about breeding programmes and feed, which leads to more sustainable livestock management.

Alliance has been trialling the technology at two of its plants, Smithfield (Timaru) and Pukeuri (Oamaru) 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,” says Alliance chief executive Willie Wiese.

“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.

“In pasture-based livestock production systems, IMF has a strong correlation with polyunsaturated fat including Omega fatty acids. High IMF levels represent healthy fats, which are good for nutrition.

“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.

“It will enable us to build up and scale our premium programmes, which is a growing part of our business, and allow us to further differentiate our product offering to target consumers.”

MEQ’s probe technology does not require carcasses 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,” says MEQ CEO Remo Carbone.

“We are very pleased to be working with them to reshape the future of farming by providing real-time, data-backed insights.

“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.”

For more information, please contact:

Sam Halstead
027 474 6065

Beroze Dubash
Kicker Communications

Ash Pritchard
Kicker Communications

About Alliance
Alliance is New Zealand’s only 100 per cent farmer-owned red meat co-operative and is the country’s largest processor and exporter of sheepmeat, and a key producer of pasture-fed premium beef with its quality produce exported to over 65 countries.

About MEQ
MEQ is an Australia-based agtech start-up working to further advance the global meat industry towards objectively measuring meat quality. MEQ technology utilises spectral analysis to determine the intramuscular fat percentage (IMF) or eating quality of meat on a carcase-by-carcase basis. The innovative technology amalgamates physics, chemistry, and biology with machine learning to provide meat processors with a benchmark to improve the quality of their product. MEQ provides real-time information to meat processors, which can be shared up the supply chain (distributors, butchers, consumers) and down the supply chain (on-farm growers).

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