Worldwide, the consumer demand for meat is forecasted to change, with trends showing that people are now seeking quality over quantity. It’s this demand, and the opportunity for increased meat export values, that has led to the development of Clarospec, ‘the science behind New Zealand’s red meat story’.
Introducing Clarospec™, the new AgResearch system that enables real-time meat product quality measurement, through the use of hyperspectral imaging technology.
Clarospec™ is one of the AgTech start-ups joining our Sprout Accelerator 2021 Cohort B intake.
Brainchild of AgResearch’s Cameron Craigie and Mos Sharifi, the idea for Clarospec™ was conceived back in 2016, when they started working on a project called ‘capturing the value of New Zealand red meat’.
“The initial hypothesis for our project was that in order to develop a robust meat quality measurement system, we needed to measure multiple product quality traits. We couldn’t use a one size fits all approach”.
The original technology system was designed to measure three key aspects of meat quality; the tenderness of the meat, pH levels, and the intramuscular fat in beef, lamb, and venison.
“The reason we chose to focus on those aspects rather than others, such as taste and flavour, was because these were aspects that could be classified as ‘pre-commercial’, things that the industry could really rally around. They weren't consumer traits in themselves, but they were highly correlated to consumer traits. They were the fundamentals of meat eating quality”.
Now, five years on, the system has been further refined, and the key focus for Clarospec™ is currently around the measurement of lamb meat quality, enabling consumer demands to lead on-farm feed and breeding decision making processes.
“There is an entire ecosystem of people for whom this technology impacts. On one hand we have consumers, who are seeking high quality, delicious food, as well as the suppliers who provide the product, such as the meat processors and exporters, followed by the supermarkets, restaurants etc.”
“On the other hand we have the thousands of New Zealand farmers who are supplying the product, and looking to understand what impact their farming practices have on that meat eating quality as well as the breeders who are producing the genetics for those farmers to use”.
The plan for the Clarospec™ system, which is currently being trialled in two different commercial operations, is to integrate into meat processing plants across New Zealand, with its real-time technology measuring the quality of all meat being processed.
The data from the system would then be available for the meat industry to use as they see fit, with the aim being for specific standards to be set around meat quality and the data provided back to farmers to use in their on-farm decision making processes.
“Currently 70% of New Zealand lamb is suboptimal, but unless you had actually gone and done the research, you wouldn't know that. You would think that every bit of New Zealand lamb was fantastic”.
“There is a huge untapped opportunity for New Zealand to optimise our lamb production - to create a better, tastier product. We see that optimisation being worth between $10 - 15 per lamb, and with around 20 million lambs produced in New Zealand each year, that’s a huge opportunity”.
Clarospec’s vision for the future is to firstly scale and extend into the Australasian lamb market, following that they envision the product extending into other manufacturing processes, looking to either improve product quality or reduce waste.
The system is currently a research programme that sits within AgResearch. The team working on Clarospec™ consists of Cameron Craigie - Programme Leader, Mos Sharifi - Lead Engineer and Charlotte Tumilson, whose role is IP Support.
Sprout is looking for start-ups with a disruptive idea in AgTech or FoodTech to join us for our 2022 Accelerator intake. Think you have what it takes?
Find out more about our Sprout Accelerator.