Consumers are becoming more and more educated and aware about where their meat comes from, which points to a bright future for paddock to plate providers, says the operator of a small Western Victorian abattoir.
Koallah Farms abattoir, Lake Purrumbete, sells online and operates a Mount Waverley shop, Simply Free Range.
Co-owner Steven Castle said the Lake Purrumbete farm, adjacent to the works, turned off around 200 beef cattle a year and source pork and lamb from local producers.
“I think the consumer is becoming more and more educated about where the product they are eating comes from and there is a lot of keener interest in being able to identify its source,” Mr Castle said.
Koallah ran a herd of Charolais/Angus, and Shorthorn/Hereford-cross cattle.
Initially, Koallah was a dairy farm, but Mr Castle said the family continued to transition out of that sector, to concentrate more on meat.
“It’s part of our plan to continue to produce more and more animals, we can sell direct to the public,” Mr Castle said.
He said it was pleasing consumers were also catching on to what was a “more holistic” view of what they ate.
“One of the big challenges with meat is consumption of the whole animal,” he said.
“From a beef point of view, you are probably only talking about 17 or 18 per cent of the animal is your eye fillet, your porterhouse, your scotch, your rump – well, there’s still 80-85pc of the animal you still have to consume.”
He said it was an ongoing process to educate consumers they could eat many different parts of the animal.
“But we’re getting a lot better at it,” he said.
“People are a little more adventurous in the types of cuts they are using for cooking because many of these cuts are actually more cost effective.
“You can still get good quality produce, for a fair price, and spread your spend, over different parts of the animal.”
Koallah was also processing animals for many other small, local paddock to plate producers, looking to value-add to their own production.
With Christmas around the corner, he said people would be thinking about slow cooking and smoking of products such as brisket or pork ribs.
“That creates a whole new market for those cuts, which have previously been regarded as secondary,” he said.
He said the opportunities were endless with the alternative cuts of meat.