MLA investigates new technology to add value to red meat

01 December 2016

Three-dimensional printing technology for red meat products could present the next big advancement in value adding to the Australian industry, following new research published by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

A recent MLA research project reviewed market acceptance and value proposition for 3D printed food with meat as an ingredient – particularly investigating how the technology could open new market opportunities and further grow the demand and uses for red meat.

Three-dimensional printed (3DP) food is the technology where food is created (printed) layer by layer in a process called additive manufacturing. Various ingredients can be mixed, deposited and cooked, allowing quick experimentation with food combinations.

For red meat, this represents an exciting opportunity to add value to current secondary cuts, trim and by products by developing a “meat ink”. 

MLA General Manager – Research Development and Innovation, Sean Starling, said 3DP food was an emerging, transformational technology platform that had real potential to create and capture new value for the Australian red meat industry.

“There is a need for the creation of new business models and solutions to meet mega trends and demands from different markets who want personalised approaches to nutrients or textures rather than the current whole muscle meat products,” Mr Starling said.

“For example, the aged care sector is in need of food products that are easier to chew and have traditionally utilised pureed food as it is easier and cheaper. However, by utilising 3DP technology there is an opportunity for the red meat industry to provide high protein meals that are more appetising for residents and can be presented in intricate premium shapes and sizes.

“Working in combination with leading edge 3DP science providers, there is an opportunity for the Australian red meat industry to tap new markets and increase value for previously under-utilised red meat product.”

Mr Starling said the Australian red meat industry had forged a strong position both domestically and in international markets as producing a quality, premium product. The advancement and utilisation of 3DP technology would only complement this established and successful strategy, as it is about pushing different red meat products into previously unchartered markets.

“We know red meat is currently positioned in the minds of consumers as an invaluable natural source of iron and zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 – all essential nutrients needed to keep the body and brain functioning well - with both a taste and texture benefit over plant-based proteins,” Mr Starling said.

“The research has shown there is opportunity to build on this strong position amongst consumers by utilising 3DP technology.

“If the Australian red meat industry is to remain globally competitive we have to embrace innovation and new technology to ensure we grow our markets and provide greater value for the industry.”

Following this research, MLA is currently finalising details for an upcoming 3DP conference in Australia in 2017 in partnership with Jakajima, who recently ran a successful series of 3DP conferences in Europe (for an overview see www.3dprintingevent.com). 

The conference will include global speakers and demonstrations of 3DP food technology to showcase opportunities for the Australian red meat industry.  There will also be an opportunity for several attendees to win a sit down meal made entirely through 3D printed techniques.

To view the MLA research around 3DP food technology, visit this link.

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