AS the year draws to a close, the winds of change seem to be in the air. Hopefully we’ll be able to take our masks off to breath it all in. Border restrictions have eased and with it my office outlook, as I make the move to Australian Pork Limited’s Canberra office.
Retail and food sector activity is increasing with Christmas approaching, and APL was abuzz preparing for the November Board, delegate and producer meetings. A number of research projects are underway, and several are progressing to critical phases. Earlier in the year, the APL Board identified three key strategic intents or focus areas for the development of the research and innovation program – biosecurity, cost of production and eating quality.
In addition to these, there are areas of science and technology that have ongoing projects and technical input, such as carcass grading technology, environmental research and antimicrobial resistance projects.
APL has focused on impactful outcomes from its research, and the approach being taken has been guided by the external review into APL’s research and development model, which was completed last year.
Within the biosecurity strategic focus, I previously reported on the importance of reviews into the three D’s – destruction, disposal and decontamination – and the risk of ASF transmission through vehicle movement, including real world case studies.
The reviews have provided crucial answers and direction for addressing practical farm issues as part of ASF preparedness by the industry. A third project within the biosecurity strategic intent is looking into the potential of data analytics for next-generation risk-managed biosecurity. In the world of data collection and algorithm development, there is great potential to use data captured every day – from a wide range of platforms for managing and predicting risk, to the threat of disease, and not only exotic disease.
In our version, African swine fever is the root cause of evil and the series plots will cover import entry, overseas travellers, vehicle movements, piggeries and more. The next phases of these projects are currently being reviewed by Dr Lechelle van Breda with the relevant researchers. Meanwhile, the strategic intent into improving eating quality is gathering momentum.
APL and several key processing facilities have recently completed a benchmarking exercise to measure carcass pH as one measurable indicator of pork quality. In collaboration with the University of Melbourne, APL’s Dr Vaibhav Gole now has a large commercial data set that we want to expand on – to show the strength of relationships between season, farming system, transport and processing risk factors in order to address and reduce negative risks in a supply chain loop.
Through this focus on pork eating quality, we aim to improve consumer satisfaction with our product and increase demand for Australian-grown pork. The engagement of our processors is crucial for a supply chain approach to improving pork eating quality and added value throughout the supply chain.