ICA in prime position to take its cut of the beef boom

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Media baron turned beef exporter Harold Mitchell told 60 Minutes Australia earlier this year “beef export is the new iron ore.” His reasoning? Australia’s iron ore helped build China and now someone has to feed the growing middle classes.


Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd (ICA) General Manager Bruce Granger said Mitchell’s comments highlighted the reason many in the meat processing sector were turning to automation.


“Recently we manufactured a turnkey system for a family owned and run business that not only supplies local butchers but maintains a Tier 1 export licence. What they found with their previous production line was they couldn’t meet demand from overseas relying solely on manual handling.”


The challenge put to ICA was to manufacture a system that would significantly reduce manual handling, increase yield from raw materials and ensure world’s best practice food safety standards were met. Hygiene is particularly important to avoid contamination of raw meat, something that can easily happen when manual handling is involved.


“Biosecurity issues around food are huge and that makes Australia a desirable food source. Not only do these markets – particularly China – want clean, safe food, but they want a lot of it and and they want it now.”


Granger also noted the growing demand for paddock to plate identification was a consideration when designing for the meat processing sector.


“The food safety technology industry has advocated for greater traceability throughout the supply chain and automation aids this process.”


By implementing an automated system ICA’s client was able to reduce costs and increase throughput. An investment in capital infrastructure enabled the business to increase output to meet the volumes demanded for export while saving money on raw materials and labour.


Granger commented that the demand for Australian food is only going to grow as a result of the free trade agreement.


“We deal with many clients in the food processing area – particularly meat and dairy. We think these two sectors will be among the ones to benefit most from this agreement. Conditions have never been better for these markets than they are right now. We encourage producers who haven’t already done so to invest in automation to build their production capacity and position themselves as a supplier of choice over the next decade.”