Australia's largest family-owned meat processor Thomas Foods International has launched a new livestock certification program, which aims to maintain Australian producers' reputation for supplying the highest quality, ethically-produced beef, sheep and goat meat.
The company says increased supply chain transparency through the Thomas Family Guarantee is essential in securing and building the future appetite for Australian meat.
TFI's overseas customers are increasingly seeking information on how the livestock were raised and on-farm animal welfare practices and environmental standards.
The Thomas Family Guarantee will verify labelling claims on the company's product, such as the animals being raised without antibiotics, hormone growth promotant-free, humanely raised and sustainable.
TFI national livestock manager Paul Leonard says consumers understandably want reassurance they are receiving top quality produce.
"Australia already has a reputation for high quality. But it's important for our industry and farmers across the country that we continue to provide proof of this comparative advantage," Mr Leonard said.
"By providing transparency and verification through meaningful quality assurance programs, we can continue to access lucrative target markets for Australian primary producers."
Mr Leonard says the voluntary program will involve participating producers filling out documentation and random annual audits.
The humanely-raised claim is covered under the animal welfare component and requires evidence of an in-date Livestock Production Assurance certification.
The induction process of all farm employees must also be explained.
To meet the sustainability component, participating producers will need to sign the TFI Environmental Declaration.
This states they are following certain on-farm practices, including management of chemical rinse down runoff, planting of trees/shelter belts, fencing of rivers/creeks and erosion management.
There are also optional additional programs for grassfed, grainfed and organic classifications.
"This is a non-onerous, concise and standardised program that provides the key supply chain information markets across the globe are demanding of imported meat products, particularly in the United States and European Union," Mr Leonard said.
He hopes that as many suppliers as possible take part, with no cost to producers to participate.
"The more we have on the program, the greater market access and larger flow-on benefits to producers," he said.
"Ultimately, the Thomas Family Guarantee is all about securing the best outcomes for our customers and suppliers."
The program launch follows the company's announcement in June to build a new abattoir at Murray Bridge with the highest animal welfare standards.
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