The season is running according to plan with the supply of lambs starting in earnest this month. We have a good flow into Alliance Group’s Lorneville, Timaru and Dannevirke processing plants and that will enable us to start building stock for the coming 12-month period. Processing numbers are in line with our expectations and we are undertaking evaluation of animals and different feeding regimes.
The Primary Growth Partnership team is progressing a number of projects, including gaining further customer insights, new product development and establishing procurement capability. We will keep you informed of progress on this.
The focus for farmers in the coming months will be to continue to maintain consistent quality supply of livestock. Attention to detail, a good feed regime and limiting stress to animals ahead of processing by minimising use of dogs in yards is important.
We will also be paying farmers a supply bonus of $7 per head for qualifying chicory-fed lamb supplied for the 2018/2019 season. It is intended this will be paid out at the end of March. We will be in touch this month to finalise qualifying numbers and arrange for you to invoice us for the agreed amount.
Rennie Davidson General Manager The Omega Lamb Project
On Farm Update: Mark O'Connor, Headwaters
Our farmers have been experiencing some challenging and contrasting conditions this season. Following a cold start to spring, Southland farmers saw some record clover growth. However, our thoughts are very much with the Southland farmers who have experienced flooding recently.
A dry spell in the mid-South Island was broken by good rainfall in early February, which will make a lot of difference. Chicory levels have been 20-30 per cent better than last year – but we can always do with more chicory. On average lambs are yielding well and weights are good. There is still a lot of learning going on, with farmers reporting different results from mobs in different paddocks – but this is all about learning together and making good calls together.
Grass-fed fed Omega supply is still a bit short of the 25,000 lambs Alliance has a contract to supply – so if you will have any available from 17th February onward, please let Warren know.
New chair of Farmer Working Group
Dave Harper has recently succeeded Simon Saunders as chair of the Farmer Working Group. Dave and Millie Harper, and their daughter Rosa and son-in-law Michael Dekker, run Braided Waters Farming across 640Ha on the north bank of the Rakaia Gorge. They have mixed sheep, deer, dairy grazing and cattle fattening. All their sheep – 1,200 breeding ewes – are Headwaters and they are now in their fourth year as finishers for the programme finishing around 3500 Te Mana lambs a year. "This season sees a big transition as the programme moves from the development phase to a more commercial model,” says Dave. “Change is never easy but overall things look to be going pretty well. We are almost halfway through the processing season so far and farmers are reporting that, on the whole, lambs are doing pretty well on the chicory. The focus now for farmers is making sure targeted numbers are as accurate as possible and to keep up the good communication all the way up and down the supply chain. I’m very positive about the future of the programme. Everything has its challenges but we have a great product and any time you talk to a chef, the answer is always that they love it and that it is consistently good. That kind of consistent feedback and consistent performance, without exception, is what underpins for me the importance of what we are doing.”
Enjoy some Te Mana Lamb at the following restaurants.
Botswana Butchery, Auckland
Four Points by Sheraton, Auckland
Clarence Bistro, Tauranga
Noble Rot, Wellington
The Athens Yacht Club, Christchurch
The Grille By Eichardt’s, Queenstown
Level One, The Kelvin Hotel, Invercargill
Market Update: Mike Teen, Alliance Group
Asia The Asian market has been waiting on new season product. Lambs were a little later than expected, due to weather conditions and then product needed to be aged. The Hong Kong hospitality market is beginning to recover from the impact of the political unrest but is currently impacted by the Coronavirus. There are currently no sales into China, due to the lockdown situation resulting from the outbreak. However, demand had been good and we anticipated that returning once the current situation is resolved. A number of new labelling specifications have been requested for the Chinese market and these are currently being made up and stocks prepared for when demand lifts. There is the option to divert this product to other markets if necessary. Singapore and Taiwan are also waiting on new stock and some market communication is also opening with Thailand. Market insights are also being compiled for the Japanese market.
Europe We are working to leverage our UK partnership with Hello Fresh to move into Germany and Sweden. These are early days but we have been undertaking a lot of promotional exercises in Germany and are looking to convert that into sales. We now have a small customer base in France and are looking to build on that. Sous vide is very popular with French diners so we are looking at the opportunities for Te Mana Lamb sous vide for that market. We also now have some product going into the superyacht market, based in Spain. The team has identified that as a strong opportunity for 2020 and are working with an agent in Spain who supports caterers for the sector. Feedback from chefs in Greece has been very good, following Te Mana Lamb promotions late last year. We are negotiating around pricing with an agent and looking to set up distribution there. The sales team is continuing our strong promotional activity in the UK. There is a lot of interest in Alliance Group’s upcoming 2020 Discovery Series tour, which will bring 13 Chefs from the UK and elsewhere in the world to visit New Zealand farms and restaurants in May. Te Mana Lamb will be a key focus for the Discovery Series and we will keep you informed of developments.
New Zealand Domestic sales continue to be steady. We have developed a new relationship with a distributor for the Hawke’s Bay to supply product to restaurants and vineyards in the region, with the first orders now underway.
Australia We have finalised market strategy development for Australia and are moving into the execution phase. We are working with a distributor and Te Mana Lamb will be in Australian restaurants very soon.
North America Extensive promotional work in North America is beginning to bear fruit. We are working with a large database of chefs. Chefs are starting to request Te Mana Lamb from distributors and we are now setting up those relationships.