By Leon Gettler >>
CHRIS BALASZ, who runs Australian red meat company Provenir, is revolutionising Australian abattoirs.
The regulator, Prime Safe, came out and conducted an inspection of Provenir’s mobile abattoir, which had been operating for the last year in New South Wales, and granted a licence to operate in the company’s home state of Victoria.
“The process was quite long and in the first place we had to change the law, which was no small feat, and we did that on October 24, 2019. The legislation passed through the upper house of the Victorian Parliament and that basically added two words to the Meat Industry Act. Under the definition of an ‘abattoir’ it put ‘and vehicle’,” Mr Balasz told Talking Business.
“They were the only two words that stopped us operating in Victoria.
“Then we needed the regulator to create a licence – so red tape is well and truly alive in Victoria – so we waded our way through that. So on July 1 they came in and inspected the unit and then on Tuesday this week, for the first time in Victoria, we processed cattle on the farm in which they were born and raised and produced the best quality meat in Australia – and that was done on my farm.”
THE ABATTOIR TRUCK SOLUTION
The abattoir is operating from a semi-trailer, the largest truck one could put on the road. It is wider than a normal truck, 3m versus 2.5m, and a fully compliant operational abattoir is inside.
The abattoir industry has gone through a generation and a half of consolidation. Meat regulations have increased and become stricter in the wake of the kangaroo meat and horse meat export scandals of the 1990s, forcing smaller operators out of the business.
The smaller operators were generally in regional Australia close to the point of production of the animals.
Abattoirs in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane had lower transportation costs from the point of slaughter to the point of consumption, while the abattoirs in regional areas struggled with the regulatory and transportation costs and they closed down.
“What that’s meant is the animal had to be transported a lot further than what they did a generation or so ago, and again that impacts on the quality of meat. That’s where our little business model puts all that on its head and we actually go to where the animals are,” Mr Balasz said.
It means the cattle are slaughtered without any stress at all, completing the duty of stewardship, he said.
COVID INCREASED AWARENESS
With COVID-19, there is more community awareness about how meat is produced and about food security and safety.
Mr Balasz said Provenir Meat gives that reassurance for consumers using its QR codes, which provide details about the kind of meat, the farm where it comes from, the species of cow and even some recipes for preparing the best possible steak.
“Every time they purchase a retail-ready pack of meat, it comes with a little QR code on it and, on any smart phone just on the camera, if you put that over the QR code, it links back to our web-based system which will tell exactly what the cut of meat is they just purchased,” Mr Balasz said.
“It actually gives some cooking tips there as well. How quickly do you sear an eye fillet, or what are some ideas that you can do with a bowl of roast? And we’ll add to that with more content and recipes on there.
“The next tab across tell you exactly which farm it comes from but beyond the name of the farm, it introduces the name of the farmer.”
It is a revolutionary approach to meat production – harking back to a more community-engaged erea – whose time seems to have come again in Australia.
Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.