WOA "Members Only" Section
Newsletter #10, January, 2004

ISSUE No. 10
1. Happy New Year
2. Country Liaison
3. Understanding Our Market
4. Membership Invitation
5. Quality Standard Marks
6. Minutes AGM

1. HAPPY NEW YEAR
A very happy and prosperous new year to all.

2. Country Liaison
We are pleased to announce that Prof. Hesham Khalifa has agreed to take over the task of Director with direct responsibility for the Country Liaison program, replacing Alan Stables, who resigned as a director in October. Prof. Khalifa will be enhancing the roles of the Country Liaison Officers as it became apparent during discussions at the AGM that there was a desire to reach more people. So please give your thoughts to the discussion on the Members List.

3. Understand your Market
The greatest concern amongst all is market development. Our industry has tended to look within the industry for answers, instead of understanding how the Meat Market works with our competitive specie. Previously I have discussed the influence of our very low volume and the challenges this presents until we all have a far greater level of production. A few more statistics to demonstrate this point:

 

"About three million kangaroos a year turn into steaks or stews on European tables - a significant part of Australia's 10 million kangaroo harvest. Australian exports of kangaroo meat so far in 2001 have jumped by 30 per cent."

"Venison is also hot and meat exporters cannot fill demand. Australian venison exports slipped, to 1.67 million kg or 46,000 deer in 2000/01 from 1.8 million kg or 56,105 animals the year before, only because herds had been "cleaned out" to meet rising European demand, producers said."

"All of us could sell heaps more if we could just get the animals. It's frustrating."

This situation was during the BSE outbreaks of 2001 in Europe. These opportunities are not new and some of us have been aware of these opportunities since we started in this industry in the early to mid 1990's. Lack of quality and consistent production remains the limiting factor to industry development. The production groups that will capitalise on these opportunities will be those groups that put in place the right production methods to supply the market with consist quality, consist supply and in volume.

In a discussion on Branding meat products a few interesting excerpts:

 

"However if a nationwide effort to generate more public interest in beef and lift the value of UK beef cattle is to be effective then tacticians must acknowledge that branding is more than identifying an attractive name, designing an eye catching logo and putting beef cuts into an individualistic pack."

"Experienced food sector specialists have warned that as many as nine out 10 food brands are withdrawn either because they fail to excite consumer interest or because the product itself falls short of buyer's expectations - and with beef this is most likely to as a result of unexpected toughness."

"It is encouraging that more farmers, private companies and marketing bodies are getting behind this by building new brands but forward momentum will only be maintained if consumers are confident that the beef sold under this multiplicity of labels will be tender, juicy, and full of flavour."

"This means more attention must be paid to what goes in these packs than in the design of the packs themselves. Even if a beef brand is well researched and perfectly marketed it will fail if the beef is dry, bland and tough to eat".

Note how the emphasis continues to be on Meat Quality rather than simply good packaging.

The above excerpts come from different articles that can be found at http://www.meatnews.com

I recommend going to this web site as it provides a good insight into the Meat Industry.

Other web sites that offers some excellent articles and consumer market research information on the British Meat Industry is http://www.redmeatinudstryforum.org.uk and http://www.mlc.org.uk.

Please let me have any web sites you know of that are good sites for understanding more the meat market and I can publish in future newsletters.

4. Membership Invitation
One of the Eight Principles of the WOA is:

To develop procedures for the implementation of these principles which will
enable the ostrich industry to compete in the marketplace with modern livestock and agri-processing methods.

Marketing covers many things from production methods on farm, processing, packaging, distribution, trade fairs, advertising and industry standards so that our producers, processors, marketers and customers know and understand our products. My focus in these discussions remains on Meat production as this is the most important product to enable a successful transition from Breeder Market to full commercialisation. However, the principles also apply equally to skins, feathers and fat.

A reminder of a comment from one of the speakers at the Poland conference in 2002 and referenced in the first WOA Newsletter:

 

"I had during this time contact with some of the biggest meat companies in Germany, and their conclusion is, that we, the Ostrich Industry must set unique standards and organize the market, and then we can return to speak with them."

This is essential to bring us in line with mainstream livestock industries and enable our industry to compete as a professional livestock production industry.

The Standards committees of the WOA have produced Carcass Grading Systems and Yield Classifications. The Directors recognise that establishing the standards is the most important task to be accomplished by the WOA. However, it is then up to members to understand the Standards and implement them in their marketing.

Our buyers currently treat all Ostrich meat as the same and generally evaluate quality only on bacterial counts and basic presentation. While our industry remains small and fragmented this approach allows competition only on price with buyers in control. It is the responsibility of all of us to find mechanisms to fully understand and distribute the standards to all actively involved in the industry. While we are a tiny, immature and fragmented industry, this is a challenge that must be discussed and understood in order to formulate a plan amongst members on how we can ensure the standards are known, understood and followed.

An important method to spread the understanding of the standards is through increased membership of the association. With that in mind we ask all of you to encourage any you know involved in the industry to join the association and support the standards. To keep this newsletter within the file size limit of this mailing list, I will post separately an approved letter of invitation that you can send to any you know in the industry to invite them to join the Association.

We also ask any of you that feel qualified to offer your services to assist with the work still to be done on any of the committees that are listed at http://www.world-ostrich.org/member/committe.htm. If you feel that you are able to serve on any of the committees, please email the chairman of the relevant committee. That includes this Newsletter - all contributions will be gratefully received.

5. Quality Standard Marks
To get a greater understanding of how other livestock industries tackle Quality and Standards - below is a further excerpt from another meat production industry: "The British Meat Quality Standard Mark is an integrated scheme involving the farm, feed supply, livestock haulier, abattoir and processing plant, all of which must comply with strict operating standards.

All pork, bacon and ham that carries the mark comes from farmers and processors committed to high standards of animal welfare, quality control and traceability. But written standards are no good by themselves.

We need to know that they are being followed. Every link in the supply chain is subject to regular independent auditing to ensure that they conform".

This discussion is taken further on the following web connection: http://www.mlcclassification.co.uk/

Another web site that gives further clues on how other livestock production industries are tackling the quality of their products is http://www.meatscience.org. If you go to their search engine - http://www.meatscience.org/search.asp type in Meat Color into the search box and a number of different fact sheets come up discussing this topic with different specie.

The science that controls these factors in other specie is the same for Ostrich so long as the unique requirements of Ostrich are fully understood in the same manner that they are becoming increasingly understood in the production of Poultry, Beef, Lamb and Pork. It has been my experience when reading many publications on Ostrich production and watching practices on farm, that the basic principles are being ignored, with the resultant mixed fortunes on farm and tremendous variability on slaughter age, muscle sizes, muscle quality and overall quality of our end products.

That same variability is demonstrated in Skin Quality, Fat Quality and Feather Quality.

The MLC is a National government funded organisation. With Ostrich production not yet a mainstream, volume production industry, with small pockets of production scattered around the globe, it is clear that we have to develop a strong organisation that will have the resources to develop our own internal auditing services. We need to develop volume to be able to fund these activities.

6. First Annual General Meeting
The first Annual General Meeting was held as published on the 1st December. The minutes of the meeting can be viewed from http://www.world-ostrich.org/member/agm2003.htm

The need to spread the benefits of membership was a clear message that came through from discussions and we need far more discussion on this subject on the members list. Members thoughts and ideas are welcomed.

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