It’s been another busy month for The Omega Lamb Project. The business plan and budget for the High Health Alliance has been completed, presented and approved by the HHA board. The Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) plan for the year has also been presented and approved by the PGP Steering Group.
The revised livestock contract, with additional background and context following some good feedback, has been sent out to farmers. The contract and payment structure is designed to support the objective of supply chain excellence (lambs on time, in specification and as many as possible) and to recognise the significant investments made by both breeders and finishers.
Supply Manager Warren Leslie and Breeding Programme Manager Andrew Bendall have been getting out and about meeting our farmers around the country, including in Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, Canterbury, South Canterbury, Central Otago and Southland. They are reporting strong confidence among farmers in response to the prices being realised for Te Mana. It is certainly a good start and a level we can build on over time.
The focus in the coming months is on being well organised and recognising that everyone is accountable in the supply chain - farmers, marketers and the project team. Following the programme’s requirements, within your farm management framework, is essential and will help ensure greater levels of transparency across the supply chain, from farmers through to consumers.
Rennie Davidson General Manager The Omega Lamb Project
There has been good uptake of the Headwaters WhatsApp group. This provides a secure forum to provide farmers with information and news as it happens. It is also an opportunity for farmers to share news and information, ask questions or seek advice from fellow farmers in the programme. We hope you are enjoying the updates about the use of Te Mana Lamb in global markets. Chefs really appreciate the news and stories from farms. Please keep the WhatsApp posts coming and more snaps from the farm would be good – a picture tells a thousand words.
Our Farmer Working Group has supported the Headwaters team and farmers in getting set up for this season. Momentum is building and with tailing well underway and weaning approaching, it’s important to keep in touch with Warren Leslie, Headwaters and the wider team. Please provide information about lamb numbers and dates you will need them moved/sent for processing as early as you can. Having that information two to three weeks in advance allows for good planning and efficiencies and helps pre-empt any bottlenecks.
Warren, and a number of Headwaters farmers, attended some of Alliance Group’s Annual Roadshows and were very pleased at the strong words of support and commitment to Te Mana Lamb and the message that Alliance sees premium and value-add products as an important part of the co-operative’s future. It was also encouraging to see the response to The Omega Lamb Project from farmers not currently supplying the programme.
There seems to be an increasing awareness in the sector that the project is gaining momentum. It takes time for messages to filter through but we hope more farmers will choose to join the project as a result. As you know, it is very important that we grow the number of breeders and finishers participating in the project and see more chicory planted. If you have any issues or questions at any time, please call Warren Leslie. If Warren isn’t available, please call the Headwaters hotline0 0800 RAM211 (0800 726 211). The Farmer Working Group is made up of farmers who are experienced in the programme and they are also happy to offer help and advice.
If you haven’t signed up to the WhatsApp group yet, please contact Raewyn Murray, firstname.lastname@example.org or 027 226 8657
New Zealand is our most developed and mature Te Mana Lamb market and that is reflected in the consistency of sales volumes within our ‘home fortress’. This time of the year brings some challenges, as competing brands working to get market share are offering some very competitive pricing. However, the strong relationships we have with 27 distributors for Te Mana Lamb, together with chefs’ knowledge of the product, is carrying us through as the premium product of choice. In total, we are now listed in 102 restaurants across NZ, an improvement of 38 from this time last year.
The launch of Te Mana Lamb in China has gone very well. We initially focused on Shanghai, with plans to move on to Beijing but there is already a flow of demand from Beijing through associated hotels and restaurants and chefs are keen to source Te Mana Lamb. Singapore is continuing to track well at relatively consistent volumes. There has been a temporary dip as expatriates traditionally depart for six to eight weeks due to the ‘smog season’ but they are beginning to return now. As can only be expected with the current unrest in Hong Kong, there are no sales going there at present. People are not eating out and the food service sector is weak.
Momentum is continuing to build although it will take time to get sales to consistently high levels in this market. The strong focus on building relationships with distributors and the food service is starting to pay dividends. We now have two people on the ground in the region, which is making a real difference. They are doing a lot of work running events for distributors, hosting chefs and chef education. Currently the focus is on the West Coast, as far as Las Vegas, a market that can provide enough demand.
The UK is continuing to track well. We have budgeted sales into the New Year and our food service team there is looking forward to getting new stock.
We are starting to build very good traction in Australia and we now have three large distributors. Once we get the first sales through there, we believe the market will grow.
New restaurants featuring Te Mana Lamb
Bloody Mary's (Rydges Hotel), Christchurch
Te Mana Cap On Rump
Te Mana Rump Cap On
The InterContinental Hotel, Wellington
Te Mana Rump Cap On
Two Fat Stags, Dunedin
Te Mana Rump Cap On
Te Mana Lamb Rumps Cap On back on the menu for summer
Te Mana Racks and Oyster Shoulders
Stonyridge, Waiheke Island, Auckland
Te Mana Oyster Shoulders
Sky City VIP Lounge, Auckland
Marco Pierre White
Te Mana Lamb was on the menu at at a Taste of Auckland event featuring celebrity chef Marco Pierre White recently. Marco was the first British chef, and at the time, the youngest chef in Michelin history, to be awarded three Michelin stars.
Marco Pierre White and leading New Zealand chefs Josh Emett and Gareth Stewart
Hosting Ritz-Carlton Executive Chef for Te Mana Experience
In October, Headwaters farmers Binks and Dave McCurdy hosted top expat Kiwi chef Andrew Litherland at their Hawke’s Bay farm – and introduced him to a shoulder of lamb.
While he cites lamb as his favourite comfort food in media interviews, Andrew, Executive Chef of the Ritz-Carlton hotel at California’s Laguna Beach, had never tried that particular cut.
“He was blown away by Te Mana,” says Dave, who with Binks farms 1000 Ha (770 effective) at Rissington, near Napier. The couple have 5,500 stock units – mostly Headwaters ewes, with 80 cows.
“Andrew spent a day and night here, with two of his sons. It was his first visit back to New Zealand in 20 years. We took him on a farm tour, including a look at the chicory, and cooked a lunch of our Te Mana Backstrap and wild venison at our glamping site by the river.
“Then, for dinner, Binks cooked a shoulder. They had never had a lamb shoulder before and loved it and Andrew said he was keen to cook with Te Mana in future. He was planning on serving Te Mana lollipops at a major trade show at Laguna Beach.”
Andrew has worked in hotels and restaurants across the world and has been an executive chef for the past 10 years, including at other Ritz-Carlton hotels in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida.
The visit was organised by Alliance Group, with Key Account Manager James Hadley joining the visitors at the farm.
Te Mana Lamb features at top chef contest
Te Mana Lamb was the centrepiece of chefs’ dishes at the final of the Hilton Hotel Chef Competition in London recently.
Meet the team
Commercial Project Manager Premium Products, Alliance Group
Michael, who joined Alliance this year, is a fifth generation West Coaster who has moved from dairy to the red meat sector.
“My ancestors came out in the gold rush, founded a pub and the family ran it for 120 years,” says Michael. “I studied geology at university and then worked overseas for 12 years, as a geologist in the Middle East, Africa, England and Ireland.”
Returning to the West Coast, he joined the dairy sector for 11 years, becoming GM Innovation for Westland Milk
“I worked in innovation, new product development and added value product,” he says. “This was about taking milk up the value chain and working to connect directly with customers, rather than going through middlemen, organising the sales team and ensuring there was communication from market to farmer.
“That is very much the approach we are taking with Te Mana Lamb and it has been very good to see farmers connecting with the market through WhatsApp.” Michael also works with Alliance Group’s Silere Alpine Origin Merino and new premium beef brands. “I’m really enjoying the role” he says.
“There is a great opportunity to take the company from a traditional commodity focus to added value and Te Mana is the flagship for that.”