Where can you learn how to assess if your ewes are fit to join, how to use drones for mustering cattle and how to break down a lamb carcass, in one day? The MLA Updates Day – that’s where. MLA Updates 2023 offered a jam-packed day of short and sharp 20 – 45 minute sessions, over 40 exhibitors and demonstrations at the Bendigo Exhibition Centre for their members and stakeholders. The theme was “Sustainability from Paddock to Plate.”
The event kicked off with Jason Strong, CEO, sharing an overview in which he invited the mostly producer audience to take a balanced view of the current challenging operating environment.
He highlighted that the livestock sector is one of the most advanced in sustainable practices, and that red meat producers are resilient and have weathered similar storms. Other keynotes spoke to the strong Australian meat export market, and shared the latest domestic sales data that shows that Lamb and beef sales are growing – with increased household penetration, consumption and overall dollar sales for both red meats in the last quarter.
One of the biggest audiences draws was the Panel Session on “Solutions that embrace sustainability and set you up for success” featuring the MLA Group manager of Adoption and Commercial services, a beef producer, MLA board director, and the head of a forward-thinking genetics consultancy. A key message was that whilst historically sustainability and profitability have been mutually exclusive, things must change, and are changing – driven by the end consumer and technologies.
Another big draw was a demo by Sam Burke, MLA Corporate Chef and Business Development Manager and MLA Retail Training Facilitator, Kelly Payne. Whilst Kelly literally broke down a lamb carcass (sometimes with a hack saw), Sam explained how their teams educate restaurant chains, cruise lines and international ambassadors on how to get the most out of the whole red meat carcass and be more profitable. Speaking with one of our members in attendance, very few of their producers would understand this tail end of the supply chain, with their involvement ending at their broker, and most of their personal meat supply handled by butchers.
The MLA AGM proceeded the long-awaited sundowner drinks at the end of the day.