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Welcome to the October edition of The Omega Lamb Project e-newsletter.

As the Acting General Manager of the project, I want to update you on some changes in the team, introduce some new faces and provide an update on other developments. 
  • The Headwaters team is commencing the on-farm work previously carried out by Aimee Charteris and her team
  • The developmental work is being overseen by project consultant Alan McDermott
  • Deloitte’s Chris Reeve is looking after the management of mixed mobs and payments to the breeders and finishers. Chris has been seconded part-time to the High Health Alliance
  • Fraser Broom is leading the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme work. Fraser, who has a strong science background, will manage the development of the 2019/2020 project plan. This will go to the High Health Alliance Board for approval and then to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Fraser will also oversee the implementation of  the different stages of the project plan throughout the year
  • Many farmers will already have met Warren Leslie, who has been appointed by Headwaters as the Supply Manager for The Omega Lamb Project. Warren will be working proactively with Omega Lamb farmers as well as being the ‘go to’ person for farmers who have any questions or issues that need to be resolved. You can read more about Warren below.
Finally, we are currently reviewing our progress around the Primary Growth Partnership innovation activity and establishing what the project’s legacy will be and where it will ultimately land. Thank you for your ongoing support for The Omega Lamb Project. 

Rennie Davidson
Acting General Manager 
The Omega Lamb Project 

Livestock update

Headwaters has been working hard on supporting the transition of The Omega Lamb Project out of the pilot phase into a commercial phase.

The focus is on ensuring the lambs are supplied to the spec required and the livestock numbers committed are delivered in full.

At the same time, it is essential to grow the number of breeders and finishers participating in the project and to get more chicory planted and more lamb in the Te Mana Lamb product ‘box’.

The outcomes of this coming season will provide a platform for steady growth over the next two years.

It’s vital everyone in the project works collaboratively -- breeders, finishers, Headwaters, High Health Alliance, Alliance Group, external experts, such as Agricom, and transport companies.

The project requires very good planning, communication and providing information such as lamb numbers, dates for moving lambs and processing dates as early as possible. From lambing through to tailing and weaning, it is essential to adhere to all the programme’s requirements and protocols regarding health, welfare and traceability. 

That attention to detail means that we can hand on heart say: “we are authentic”.

The Omega Lamb Project team is  developing contracts for breeders and finishers. These contracts will prescribe carcase specifications, supply performance requirements and associated pricing structure, timing of supply requirements and any costs suppliers will be expected to cover. 

One of the benefits of The Omega Lamb Project is the ability to centrally source EID tags and animal health products through the High Health Alliance and to gain the cost saving.

If farmers have any questions or issues, please call Warren on 027 414 3769 or email Members of The Omega Lamb Project Farmer Working Group are also happy to offer help and advice. 

Please don’t delay providing Warren with your EID tag and animal health product orders


We are seeking more experienced Omega Lamb farmers to help newer members of the team. We encourage any farmers who are willing to step up and share their experience as mentors to contact Warren.

Welcome to WhatsApp

We have recently launched The Omega Lamb Project WhatsApp group, providing a secure forum for farmers to receive information and news.  Equally, it provides an opportunity for farmers to share their news and information. We encourage you to post images and ask questions/seek advice from fellow farmers in The Omega Lamb Project. If you haven’t joined the WhatsApp group yet, please contact Raewyn Murray at Headwaters.
Contact details

If you have any questions, please call or email The Omega Lamb Project team or the Farmer Working Group below.
Rennie Davidson, Acting General Manager,
The Omega Lamb Project  
027 437 4444                             

Mark O’Connor, General Manager,
Headwaters, 027 4700 006

Andrew Bendall, Genetics Manager 
Headwaters, 021 421 919 

Warren Leslie, Supply Manager
Headwaters, 027 414 3769           

Raewyn Murray, Business Manager
Headwaters, 027 226 8657

Simon Saunders, Chair
Farmer Working Group,
021 388 544             

Marty Deans
Farmer Working Group,
027 228 155
Ben Douglas
Farmer Working Group
027 368 4529

Dave Harper, Farmer Working Group 
027 252 9040           

Deb Pankhurst, Farmer Working Group
027 647 6771

Tony Plunkett, Farmer Working Group
021 930 171             

Chris Reeve, Data Analyst and Office
Support, High Health Alliance 

Alan McDermott, On Farm Development
Manager, High Health Alliance
0274 778 236           
Market Update

The Alliance Group team is making good progress marketing Te Mana Lamb in key markets across the globe and there is firm demand and interest in this differentiated product.

New  Zealand
The New Zealand domestic team continues to develop their strong distributor relationships. As a result of this engagement, plus continuing direct focus on Tier 1 chefs - Te Mana Lamb is becoming the premium offering in the Tier 1 food service sector – a product that is increasingly being discussed in the industry and actively sought by chefs.
New restaurants with Te Mana Lamb on the menu
Location  Establishment

Queenstown Amisfield

Dunedin Bacchus

Omarama Lindis Lodge

Nelson/ Marlborough The Boat Shed, Forsters, Chateau Marlborough

Wellington The Bolton, Shepherd

Auckland Charlie’s Steakhouse, Rydges, The Good Home, Boatshed (Waiheke), Heritage, Delamere

North America
Otium Los Angeles has confirmed they will be including Te Mana Lamb legs on their menu for weekend lunch. The Chefs Roll’s travelling culinary competition – Chef’s Plate – is featuring Te Mana Lamb in a chef’s battle at the legendary Pike Place Market, Seattle, this month. Chefs Reginald Jacob Howell (En Rama) and Sadie White (Staple and Fancy) will face off in the competition to cook the best dish in front of 60 other chefs at Atrium Kitchen.         
Alliance Asia is participating in the Singapore Food Service Accelerator Programme, initiated and run by NZTE Singapore.  This programme allows five non-competing New Zealand food brands to take turns presenting dishes and pitching product to the key decision-makers within selected Tier 1 hotels.  Of the five initial target establishments, three are looking to feature Te Mana Lamb on their menus: the Andaz, Fullerton and Fullerton Bay. 
Interest in Te Mana Lamb is building in France with the head chef of the five star Sinner Paris approaching the UK sales team, having heard of the product through UK chefs and their social media activities.  Meetings are also scheduled with Fine Food Distributors to establish wider sales into the French market. At the recent Four Hands Chefs Event in Mykonos (Greece), last year’s Te Mana Lamb competition winner John Skotidas hosted a night at the Kenshos Hotel and used Te Mana Saddle in one of his dishes. 120 people, including high profile chefs and journalists, were present and the feedback on our product was exceptional.  Based on this, the Head chef of Kenshos wants to include Te Mana Lamb on his menu and is introducing Te Mana Lamb to four more high profile venues (including The Four Seasons and Parklane Hotel) in Cyprus.
Te Mana Lamb competition, London
Alliance Group recently hosted the final of a competition to find the top Te Mana Lamb chef in the UK.  Eight finalists had two hours to create a dish using Te Mana Lamb in a bid to join Alliance’s Pure South Discovery Series in New Zealand next year. The judges selected Lee Ladislav Poustevnik, the head chef at Beales Gourmet in Dorset, as the winner. He cooked a saddle of lamb, slow-cooked lamb rump, a lamb bun, carrot puree and carrot top pesto.

Leading food writer Niki Bezzant visits Stag Valley
Simon Saunders and Andrew Bendall recently hosted leading New Zealand food writer Niki Bezzant at Stag Valley farm in Southland. Niki writes a column for the New Zealand Herald and is Editor at Large for the Healthy Food Guide. She was particularly interested in the health properties of Te Mana Lamb and  thoroughly enjoyed the visit. These sorts of media visits are a great opportunity to further raise the profile of Te Mana Lamb, highlight its points of difference and to connect consumers directly to producers. 
Primary Growth Partnership update:

The 2019/2020 project plan will establish what we want to achieve from the PGP programme over the next 12 months.

We are aiming to:
  • produce the ‘ultimate lamb’ using genetics and refined production systems and understand how we can do that at scale while continuing to achieve a consistent product. 
  • explore how we can take the lamb from farms and processing plants and make the most profit – this is all about understanding the market, what we need to do to capture the greatest market value and to make the most out of each and every lamb
  • work on the future value chain, in terms of how all the components work together so we can scale the business and make it a viable business for all involved
  • establish how we refine and commercialise the hyperspectral scanning technology
In terms of innovation, we’ll be doing trial work with a number of farms to find the answers to these questions. This will help us understand how we refine the required robust production systems, establish what we need to know about markets, and creating a scalable business. 

In the long-term, this means:
  • Having a value chain that creates value by bringing together genetics, farming systems, processing, market insights and product development
  • Owning the tier one markets for lamb – such as food service for fine dining – at the top of the value hierarchy
  • Ensuring the ongoing viability of Omega Lamb to deliver after the PGP programme has finished. 
Meet the team

Every month, we will be profiling a member of The Omega Lamb Project Team.
Warren Leslie, Headwaters Supply Manager
Warren Leslie joined The Omega Lamb Project team as Supply Manager on September 1 but his connections go back to 2011 as a breeder with his own 4,000 strong Headwaters composite ewe flock. Warren was raised on the third generation family beef and sheep farm in South Canterbury, gained a double diploma in agriculture at Lincoln and then spent three years in the US, furthering his studies at the University of Minnesota and working in agriculture.
Due to the high interest rates in the 1980s, the family farm was sold but leased back and Warren and his wife Andrea went on to run it for 25 years. However recently, that property was sold and the couple, who had purchased 300 adjoining hectares, decided to lease out that land, sell their ewes to another Headwaters farmer and do something different. Andrea is now GM Business and Industry Partnerships for the Primary ITO and Warren says the Headwaters role is his “perfect job.”
“I have always really enjoyed and appreciated the team approach of Headwaters. Everyone involved is working together for the common good. I already know 90 per cent of the farmers and, having been a breeder and had a lot to do with finishers, I have a good understanding of the operation from both sides. I am currently working my way through visiting all the farms.. While I know most of the farmers, getting out on their farms and learning about their individual operations will be very useful for me going forward.”
From November to April, Warren will be working closely with breeders and finishers, Alliance and transporters to co-ordinate operations and ensure “the right numbers are going to Alliance at the right weight, at the right time”.
“I’m here to support farmers. Please don’t hesitate to call me with any questions at any time.”
Warren Leslie  027 414 3769
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Omega Lamb Project · PO Box 845 · Invercargill, 9840 · New Zealand

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