It is an important time for The Omega Lamb Project as we move out of the pilot phase and into the commercial phase. We are strongly positioned with a significant market opportunity.
We have innovative farm systems, productive animals, great people, a huge amount of data and we’re giving the consumer what they want.
At our end of season forum earlier this month, we celebrated a great result over the last 12 months, with the programme exceeding production targets and we’re on track to exceed sales targets.
Now, as with any small to medium business, we need to scale up the build volume and maximise resource to increase market returns and underpin price certainty.
This requires certainty along the supply chain around who’s doing what and confidence that we’re all working to the same objective. That’s why the collective, collaborative nature of the project is going to be vital to its ongoing success.
Bringing more breeders and finishers into the programme is key. But it’s a challenging time to be doing that with standard lamb fetching strong prices.
As sure as night follows day, the price trend won’t last. That’s why our focus is on delivering a consistent premium product, a new class of lamb outside the commodity world with the authenticity of verification of origin and full traceability.
As the programme shifts into the commercial reality, it’s even more critical that we listen to and support farmers.
The Farmer Working Group has been set up for this purpose and to strengthen connections between farmers and Headwaters, the High Health Alliance and Alliance Group. We encourage farmers to call or email anytime for support and advice.
Despite a slow start to lambing and late chicory growth, we exceeded our target of 50,000 to produce 53,000 lambs,which were used in part for Te Mana Lamb products. All-round a great result.
Next season, we’re looking to produce 65,000 chicory-fed Te Mana lambs, with this supply volume critical to fulfilling market commitments.
Another objective set at the end-of-season forum is to look at developing early season supply and unlocking the potential of a grass-fed lamb under the programme.
Mark Williamson, Aimee Charteris and Dale Bowie at the end of season forum
As we move into the next season, the project is bringing a fresh team of support people, including dedicated commercial resourcing and Headwaters is appointing a full-time Omega Lamb Project supply manager.
Over the next few months, we’ll be out on the farm visiting breeders and finishers to gauge their intentions, forecast lamb supply and finishing requirements, understand chicory on hand and plan to fill any gaps. We’re expecting to finalise breeder and finisher contracts by September.
We’re also looking to develop a digital messaging platform for use across the supply chain for sharing market insights, reminders, successes and important notifications such as securing a new customer or a chef doing something innovative with Te Mana Lamb.
Our end of season forum was a great event providing deeper insight into where the business is going and telling success stories.
A strong learning came from Quartz Hill farm’s experience to remediate poor chicory growth, low palatability and lambs not finishing. Through perseverance, collaboration and a change in thinking around diagnostics, testing across a full breadth of resources and using data to diagnose, adjust and remediate, the solution came back to restoring soil health – the foundation of healthy plants, animals and people.
In the end-of-season awards ceremony, Best Breeder went to dual winners David and Pam Gardner at Melford Hills and Tyler Hulse and Marty Deans of Barewood. Best Finishers went to Stu and Debbie Pankhurst at Glenone Holdings.
Alliance has proven it can market, sell and differentiate Te Mana Lamb and the overwhelming market opportunity is now irrefutable.
In the last 12 months, we’ve seen significantly increased revenue whilst at or above target premium margins across all our key markets, with a good performance in the UK.
A strong foundation has been built on which to grow and extend, driven by a dedicated Alliance team, improved planning and execution and some incredible work building a global network of ambassadorial chefs who are out there advocating for Te Mana Lamb and New Zealand farming systems.
A chefs event in Milan, Italy
Te Mana Lamb is now on the menus of some of the most reputable restaurants and venues including Fortnum and Mason in London, Barefoot Bistro Whistler Canada and the Duke of Marlborough in Russell.
Our market priorities are to retain all existing outlets we supply to in our developing markets, increase value per outlet and bring in more five star dining customers, continuing to leverage our chefs for digital content, ambassadorship, menu development and participating in key culinary events.
Meanwhile, we’ll be continuing our drive into key new markets such as the US, Canada, Asia and Australia, looking to secure outstanding targeted outlets, ensure their staff are fully trained in our story and offering and recruiting a global, interconnected community of ambassadorial chefs.
A fundamental key to success with this strategy is end to end connectivity – ensuring that our high end chefs feel truly connected with suppliers. We’ll be looking at ways to increase digital engagement between our markets and farmers. Likewise, make sure you keep an eye on the Te Mana Lamb website www.temanalamb.com for restaurant listings and whenever you are in a restaurant stocking Te Mana Lamb, be sure to proudly tell them you’re a Te Mana Lamb supplier.
Chefs on Alliance Group’s Pure South Discovery Series at Mt Burke in May
Farewell and thank you
We want to say a very big thank you to some key members of The Omega Lamb Project team who have been involved since the beginning and are now moving on: Aimee Charteris and her team Tiff, Craig and Deanna; Mike Tate and Mark Everest.
They have all made an immense contribution to the project over the years. Without their experience, expertise and commitment, the project would not be the success it is today.
We owe them a huge thanks and wish them well in their future endeavours.
Coming soon to your inbox
We’ll be back in your inbox with another Omega Lamb Project e-newsletter before Christmas. The next edition will include an update from the High Health Alliance Chair and other members of the team.
If you have any questions, please call or email The Omega Lamb Project team or the Farmer Working Group below.