MEAT and Livestock Australia (MLA) has bolstered its support for the rollout of Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) technology in meat processing plants, to deliver objective carcase measurement (OCM) for the red meat sector.
DEXA has been touted as a means of improving supply chain trust between sheep and cattle producers and red meat processors by providing automated and independent data feedback on carcase quality and commercial yields.
MLA has approved a plan to implement the technology in 90 AusMeat-approved meatworks for about $150 million.
With interest escalating in the technology’s capacity to deliver OCM, MLA has revealed board approval was granted last week for an additional $14m to co-fund commercial DEXA installations in individual red meat processing plants.
MLA recently announced an initial $10m to co-fund the commencement of the technology’s commercial rollout, with the DEXA installations to be funded via matching contributions from participating processors and the MLA Donor Company (MDC).
In a statement MLA said at the time it received project submissions from four individual processors, but invited expressions of interest from other beef and sheepmeat processors.
MLA Managing Director Richard Norton said his industry marketing and R&D organisation had received strong interest from a number of large meat processors who were well advanced with their funding applications.
“This additional commitment brings the total funding available to $24 million through MDC to co-fund the installation of DEXA with individual processors who are keen on accelerating adoption of the technology,” he said.
“Under this project, MLA will work with willing partners to develop a single scientific measurement of lean meat yield - and systems to collect and use data across supply chains for future research and development in genetics, animal health and husbandry, processing automation and other productivity improvements on and off farm.
“This project is integral to MLA’s investment in research and development of objective measurement systems that our red meat industry can use to make precise assessment and better commercial decisions.”
Mr Norton said in addition to the latest funding, MLA continued to undertake work to enable industry to consider the most appropriate funding model for an industry-wide rollout.
A recent joint statement from all Red Meat Peak Industry Councils endorsed the introduction of objective measurement across industry, including the adoption of DEXA technology, MLA said.
An OCM adoption and commercialisation taskforce has also been formed, under the chairmanship of respected industry veteran Gary Burridge, and progressing the adoption and commercialisation of OCM technologies including DEXA.
MLA will make further announcements regarding each of the installations as funding applications are received, and those projects are finalised and contracted.
DEXA has been used in the medical industry since 1987 to help measure the bone density of patients and more recently in airport security scanners used for checking passengers.
But its potential, to enhance current methods for analysing and measuring the meat, fat and bone contents of a carcase or lean meat yield have been realised and adopted in more recent years, by the meat processing sector globally.
Improved pace and accuracy for measuring meat yield and the enhanced profitability of using the sophisticated dual x-ray technology, have largely underpinned its commercial implementation, including better returns at the farm-gate.
Teys Australia has been trialling the technology and plans to use it next month at its Rockhampton meat processing plant, aiming to scan every side of beef processed, at a chain speed of about 160 carcases per hour.
EY recently released a report into the MLA DEXA proposal saying more proof is needed to convince producers and processors of the technology’s promised benefits.