By FWi staff

AN alliance between Irish meat company Kepak and 110 Irish beef producers is generating a farmgate price premium of £85/beast.

Now feed specialists Keenan, who co-ordinate the link-up, hope to develop new alliances between dairy farmers and processors.

Dairy industry representatives attending a Keenan seminar at Rosset near Chester were told how an alliance to provide market specific beef for Italy was succeeding.

About 95% of the cattle submitted met specifications, which included white fat, pink meat, good conformation and tenderness.

For Irish beef farmers, who had had seen their incomes plummet, the Kepak deal had been a “lifeline”, said Seamus Barron, manager of Keenan Ireland.

His company located suitable producers, helped them plan production schedules and designed feeding regimes to achieve target weight gains and consistent quality using home-grown feeds.

This type of partnership could spread to the dairy industry, through producers feeding special diets to cows to produce specific milks, Mr Barron believed.

There was “huge scope” for alliances that provided milk for existing products and for niche markets like spreadable butter and so-called healthy milks.

This could save about 30% in plant and machinery costs, so processors could pass this on as premium prices, he added.

Evidence showed that carefully planned feeding was cost-effective, improved cow performance and enhanced feed conversion efficiency and animal health, he claimed.

Australian consultant John Sprouster said supply chains paddock to plate partnerships and producers acceptance of the principle of total quality management had benefited both sides in his country.

Good quality was not necessarily high quality, but a predictable degree of uniformity, low costs and producing what suited the market.

Farmers and processors working together could drive out wastage and error, he maintained.