Giving lamb the chop

20 Jan, 2013 03:00 AM
Sam Kekovich fronts the MLA's lamb campaign.
Sam Kekovich fronts the MLA's lamb campaign.

NATIONAL Farmers Federation (NFF) president Jock Laurie has slammed Animals Australia’s attempts to counter Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) Australia Day lamb marketing campaign.

The MLA promotion features former AFL footballer and media identity Sam Kekovich fronting various tongue-in-cheek campaigns urging Australians to eat more lamb out of patriotic duty. Running annually for almost a decade, this year’s initiative kicked off on January 10 and features Mr Kekovich suffering from “Lambnesia”.

MLA global marketing general manager Michael Edmonds said the 2012 campaign contributed to lamb sales increasing by 32 per cent for the week leading up to Australia Day, and a record month for January.

Animals Australia has been an ongoing critic of the Australian livestock industry and has targeted general meat consumption with its email newsletter, which drew Mr Laurie’s ire. Their new campaign calls on Australians to give animals a day off on Australia day, “by throwing some cruelty-free tucker on the barbie”.

It blames meat product consumption for rising obesity and a heart disease epidemic, “conditions linked to the overconsumption of animal products”.

It also blames meat consumption for mankind’s environmental demise, saying “our planet's health is suffering too”.

“This month we sweltered through the hottest day on record — all the while our pollies conveniently ignored the fact that farming animals for food is creating more climate-warming greenhouse gasses than all of the world's planes, trains and automobiles combined,” the email said.

The website also lists 10 reasons to not eat meat, including a personal attack on Mr Kekovich’s appearance: “because if you don't (take meat off your plate), you could end up looking like Sam Kekovich”.

Reasons number four promotes vegetable consumption saying, “Because you CAN win friends with salad. Especially a grilled tempeh salad with sweet corn, roast capsicum, rocket and avocado”.

Mr Laurie said the “outlandish statements” from Animals Australia were “typical” of the tactics used to try and mislead consumers and unfairly tarnish and damage the nation’s red meat industry.

He said lamb and other protein products formed part of a regular, balanced diet, along with fresh fruit and vegetables. Professional nutritionists recommend that balanced approach, he said.

“These types of scare tactics are used by different groups to frighten people into not eating protein products, rather than educating them about the importance of eating lamb or other protein sources, as part of a balanced diet.”

Animals Australia also accused MLA of hijacking Australia Day, saying “any visiting tourist would think that Sam Kekovich is the father of Australia and that it's a local tradition to lob a little lamb on the barbie to prove how Australian you are”.

The move effectively lines up Mr Kekovich’s public profile against that of Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White.

Ms White spearheaded last year's undercover investigation which exposed animal cruelty and poor slaughter practices in 12 Indonesian abattoirs.

The images were broadcast on ABC TV and ignited the live export ban, which saw sweeping reforms of the industry implemented.

In recognition of her animal welfare work, Ms White was a State finalist for the Australian of the Year award 2012.

Mr Laurie said Animals Australia’s move to discourage meat consumption on the national holiday this year was not unexpected.

“They will use any strategy they can to stop meat consumption (because) they are opposed to anyone using any animal products,” he said.

“But… there’s a hell of a lot of animals that live in the environment that slaughter and eat other animals and humans.

Mr Laurie said the MLA lamb marketing campaign had been successful over a long period of time, due to Mr Kekovich’s unique style.

He said the Animals Australia counter-campaign won’t stop him eating lamb on Australia Day.

“I’m a very strong supporter of the Australian red meat industry, as a consumer and producer, and can’t see that changing,” he said.

Mr Kekovich said the comments from Animals Australia demonstrated the efficacy of MLA's campaign.

He said, “I’m flattered by the acknowledgement of the campaign and my efforts to cement lamb’s rightful place on Australian menus, but these people must have a serious case of lambnesia if they think Australians will stop eating our national dish on our national day.”

Sheepmeat Council of Australia president Ian McColl said this wasn’t the first time there had been an attempt to highjack the "very successful lamb campaign”.

“We have been investing producer marketing levies into the Australia Day campaign and building its success for quite a number of years,” he said.

“It’s a key part of our major domestic marketing promotion for us and Sam has done a great job for our industry - we’re very happy with how this year’s campaign is going.

“We know that the public look forward to the campaign every year and it resonates with them because it has that larrikin, irreverent approach - and Australians love lamb.”

  • See the Animals Australia anti-lamb campaign here and MLA's Sam Kekovich lamb campaigns here.
  • Page:
    Colin Bettles

    Colin Bettles

    is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
    Date: Newest first | Oldest first


    Jo Bloomfield
    20/01/2013 8:23:24 AM

    I think this is a great campaign full credit to the Lamb industry and Sam Kekovich. The Vitriol by Animals Australia is nothing compared the outright hate on Sam Keckovich's page from the vegans. With so many likes for it I am pleased to see the Animal rights activistis focused on animal liberation not welfare getting as good as they get. And I'm a cattle producer.
    20/01/2013 9:33:47 AM

    they mind throwing personal abuse at ourfigureheads. get some dirt on them and throw it back at these dreamers im sure they have lots of closets
    20/01/2013 9:36:42 AM This is what we are up against. Where is our industry leadership countering the farcicle rubbish these deluded simpledons are pushing? They're more organised than a swiss clock. How about primary producers of Australia start campaining properly, champion their good practice, point out some human abuse around the world. IT'S TIME TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT PEOPLE. These boneheads let untolled human abuse occur without mention, but don't you dare eat an animal, there will be hell to pay! Where's the humanity gone?
    20/01/2013 11:46:29 AM

    Governments around the world are freaking out about shrinking grain supplies. Their only option is to resource the animal rights movement as ABC has done, and resource dodgy health research (despite man's healthy history eating meat). You watch, there will be record grain plantings this year in Australia as the livestock herd shrinks even further. Treasonous activities!
    Now in NZ
    21/01/2013 7:03:54 AM

    Give it back to them! Fund a head-to-head campaign which doubles as a market awareness marketing pitch.
    21/01/2013 7:36:47 AM

    I just wonder, why do these people get air space? They obviously haven't done their research and are just using scare tactics to get a silly point across. Farming livestock will always exist, Thank Goodness!
    21/01/2013 7:49:56 AM

    Stop the live exports sure increase every ones taxes so we can pay for foreign aid for all the starving people that are not getting our livestock. Farmers are causing more green house gases!!! What about all the extra vegetation that we cant do anything about that is now on fire and is pouring smoke out and killing the livestock. I'm a sheep and cattle farmer and happy to give animals a break for a day as soon as the vegans give me a break for a year. But looks like they got the world all figured out when they start walking and rowing boats around the world and stop flying in planes ill listen
    21/01/2013 10:42:13 AM

    I went into the Animals Australia Facebook site and posted my opinion that supporting live export supports animal welfare as Australia can influence the welfare of animals through ESCAS. If live exports were to be banned the outcome for these animals would be horrific. I put my point across with no swearing or agression and they banned me from the site and removed all my comments! Animals Australia is a joke! Lyn White for Australian of the Year? What an absolute disgrace.
    21/01/2013 12:19:52 PM

    I am confused. Don't the green ratbaggery want more animals killed & consumed in OZ so the foreign devils can't get hold of them. Don't the ratbaggery just love our meatworkers or so the rhetoric flows? Should not all those vegans switch to lamb to keep those meatworkers in a job? You know it makes sense.
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    light grey arrow
    Pleased that common sense has prevailed. Being close to the policy makers cannot be underestimated
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    JohnCarpenter, The lamb and mutton job is going okay- we must be doing some things right.
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    Spot on X. Let the Chinese buy as long as we can buy freely in China