The industry supports 138,000 jobs across Australia.- CHRIS TAYLOR
WITH COVID-19 and labour shortages dominating recent headlines when it comes to the red meat industry, a new national campaign is aiming to highlight the more positive role processors play in regional communities and in Australia's economy.
The 'More to Meat' campaign was launched by the Australian Meat Processor Corporation at the construction site of the new Thomas Foods International abattoir facility at Murray Bridge on Monday.
AMPC chief executive officer Chris Taylor said the campaign was timely as the $21-billion red meat processing industry had essentially "flown under the radar" the past few decades - "an unsung hero of regional communities".
"Processing leaders have been pushing for the industry to speak up and tell some of the really great stories about what is happening out in the regions," he said.
"Some 300 communities around Australia are supported by a red meat processing facility, which are often one of the largest employers in town.
"The industry supports 138,000 jobs across Australia and the range of stable, long-term career opportunities are vast, including safety and hygiene specialists, engineers, scientists, mechanics, sustainability experts and marketers - to name a few.
"Meat processors also support jobs beyond their front gates, including truckies, traders, farmers and regional businesses."
Mr Taylor said processors played an essential role in the national food supply chain, ensuring households have access to high quality Australian red meat products.
"Australian red meat is advanced manufacturing and it's processed locally. And looking at the scale of the investment at TFI Murray Bridge, you can get a real sense of the positive future of red meat processing in Australia," he said.
"This campaign, More to Meat, is our way of celebrating that success and the impact the industry has on regional communities where they operate."
TFI CEO Tony Stewart agreed the campaign was timely and important for the industry, particularly with labour shortages at the moment and border restrictions easing.
"One of the challenges we face is continuing to attract, retain and develop the workforce that we need and the communities in which those people live and play," he said.
"The red meat industry is an Australian success story ... and there are great opportunities to continue to improve and develop what is a high value manufacturing industry with its heart and soul in regional Australia."
Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the industry not only provided thousands of jobs, it supported thousands of farming families.
"Without industry investments like here at TFI, and others under way across the country, we may lose that downstream processing that underpins the prices that Australian producers can expect from the rest of the world," he said.
"This campaign is not only good for local communities, but the benefits flow all the way out into the paddock."