THE State government has allocated $79,000 as part of its latest round of innovation grants to a feasibility study for the design, construction and operation of a mobile abattoir and processing facility in the Pilbara and Gascoyne rangelands.
Yarrie station owner Annabelle Coppin, Pilbara, was awarded the grant which was one of seven “de-risking investment” grants totalling $486,000 aimed at “pre-investment activities to support decisions to expand, relocate or establish processing and production facilities in WA”.
The grants are part of the State government’s Northern Beef Development program.
Ms Coppin hopes the study will provide some “solid outcomes” that could benefit her business, Outback Beef, and improve the marketability of the “special natural beef product” that is grown on WA’s northern pastoral lands.
Ms Coppin said WA had some unique landscapes and systems but they had not been marketed as well as they could have been to capture the growing demand for naturally bred beef.
“There’s interest in the Gascoyne for something like this,” Ms Coppin said.
“I saw the idea as something that could be good for my business, to provide more flexibility in the marketplace.”
While a mobile abattoir could provide some “niche markets” with quality fresh beef, there’s already a view that it would be a small operation.
“Even if successful it would never replace the bigger abattoirs,” Ms Coppin said.
“It would be another tool, or option, to provide something different and unique.
“Everyone knows home killed beef tastes better, so if we can capture that there could be a lot of potential with it.”
Ms Coppin said the business would be flexible and work in with clients, and while it would have a low throughput it could move around the country to where the cattle are ready for processing and reduce the stress on animals having to be transported.
“In the past there were lots of abattoirs everywhere,” Ms Coppin said.
“They all closed down from regulations from the US market in the 1950s-1960s.”
As part of the study Ms Coppin said she would look at units and projects from across Australia and compile information to see how it worked in with the local system.
She would look at issues like isolation, power, a lack of on hand meat inspectors and also how to customise the product to suit the demand.
State Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said capturing more value from WA’s primary industries was critical to the government’s plan to drive job growth across regional WA.
“The fantastic response to this program highlights the number of value adding businesses throughout the State that are looking to invest, expand and capture new market opportunities across Australia and the world,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“This investment will help value adding and processing businesses to step up to the next level and expand investment to build competitiveness, adopt new technologies, diversify and grow their enterprises.
“It will mean our local businesses can grow and compete for opportunities from interstate and in international markets, which in turn supports diversification across the economy.”
Three of the other grant recipients were Avon Valley Beef which received $100,000 to look into the “Northam Abattoir expansion and strategic business plan feasibility”.
The Dardanup Butchering Company received $75,000 for “viability modelling of dedicated meat processing and value added products”.
The Hall’s Family Dairy received $55,000 for a “feasibility study for dairy production facility for single origin cheeses”.