A new sheep industry initiative will see the New Zealand lamb industry step into the premium meat markets worldwide much on the lines of Japan's famous Wagyu beef.
The initiative is being shepherded by the New Zealand Merino Co. and processor co-operative Silver Fern Farms, who have a formed a joint venture to create a luxury meat brand, Silere Alpine Origin Merino.
Silere will offer meat from the merino sheep, which is bred predominantly for its wool, and is generally smaller than that of sheep bred for meat.
New Zealand Merino Co. said that as a pilot before the meat is marketed worldwide, Alpine Origin Merino is partnering with some of New Zealand's top restaurants to trial Silere on tourists in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup. As the second phase of development, after first entering the premium restaurants segment across the world, merino meat could potentially be offered directly to the consumer as a processed food product.
The Initiative is part of New Zealand Merino's wider New Zealand Sheep Industry Transformation project, implemented in partnership with the Government's Primary Growth Partnership fund.
On the retail level, given that Merino meat would be priced 10 to 15% higher than regular meat, the company is confident that there is a market of luxury food lovers who will be prepared to pay the higher price for a superior product experience.
Source: New Zealand Merino Co., Silver Fern Farms