WESTERN Australia’s largest lamb exporter WAMMCO International has played an integral part in LambEx, since the very first event in 2010.

Almost a decade later, and WAMMCO remains a key supporter as a major event partner at LambEx 2018, which is set to return to Perth later this year on August 5-7.

WAMMCO director Dawson Bradford was the inaugural LambEx Chairman in 2010, saying the event was initially created to help the company celebrate 10 years of operation.

“WAMMCO was the instigator, we started discussing how we could celebrate a decade of WAMMCO and it just grew from there,” he said.

“We then got in touch with event organiser Esther Price (now Jones), and the idea snowballed.

“It then grew into a state event, and before we knew it, a national event.

“I’m very proud to have it return to WA, it’s a great event and a great occasion, and WAMMCO are very proud to be a major event partner at LambEx 2018.”

Mr Bradford, who is a LambEx 2018 Organising Committee Member, said the 2010 event had “just over” 500 delegates, including 50 from interstate.

“It was initially a very hard sell to get industry in particular interested but a Federal Government grant made a big difference,” he said.

“We had a vision of what we wanted to do, to celebrate the prime lamb industry, and it all came together very well in the end.

“The industry has changed tremendously since the very first LambEx, at the time meat genetics were really starting to gain hold, some of the speakers included Murdoch University’s Professor Dave Pethick in full cry on meat quality, the University of WA’s Professor Graeme Martin on the maternal instincts of the ewe and Costco’s Marcel Moodley.”

Mr Bradford said the sheep meat industry in WA, and across Australia, had grown significantly since 2010.

“Here in WA interest has shifted with carcase becoming a much more important trait on not only traditional meat sheep breeds, but in self-replacing Merino flocks,” he said.

“Producers now realise the value of muscle in sheep.”

Mr Bradford looked forward to welcoming delegates to LambEx 2018.

“The committee has spent a lot of time in developing an action-packed program which highlights the latest research, exciting technologies and innovations,” he said.

“We have speakers from across Australia and the world who will share their insights on the lamb industry. We also have the largest trade stand area in LambEx history.

“The social events, and the chance to mix with other delegates, will also be a stand-out, in particular lamb will be highlighted at the Australian Wool Innovation GrandsLamb Dinner, with WAMMCO providing all of the lamb!”

WAMMCO Group CEO Coll MacRury said the cooperative had grown significantly in the past decade, with a current membership of about 1600. It now managed two plants, one in Katanning, WA, and Southern Meats in Goulburn, New South Wales.

The WA plant processed two million head a year, with value-added and chilled lamb products growing in popularity.

Mr MacRury says Southern Meats, a similar sized operation to Katanning, enables the cooperative to further capitalise on market opportunities for the benefit of its members.

“Goulburn was focused on mutton initially, but it’s now about a 50:50 split between lamb and mutton,” he said.

“We’ve invested a lot of money in both of the plants and doubled the turnover since 2011.

“We have new lamb processing lines, and have invested $12 million in new freezer chill rooms, ensuring cartons of lamb get down to correct temperatures very quickly. It’s a very efficient process and gives the product a very good shelf life which is vital for chilled lamb product.

“It’s an 80-day process to get the lamb to the end user and this technology and equipment means we have a very good looking and tasty product which is then bought and served to the consumer.”

At the Katanning plant 90 per cent of product was exported, with 10pc sold domestically, with Goulburn having an 80:20 split. Product was exported to more than 100 countries including North America, Middle East, China, Europe and Asia.

WAMMCO supplied the majority of lamb to Costco’s membership warehouses in Australia, and also supplied lamb to their US branches.

“We’ll be supplying WAMMCO lamb for the GrandsLamb Dinner showcase at LambEx 2018,” Mr MacRury said.

“We’ll also have a stand in the trade centre, and our marketing and livestock team, as well as our shareholders will all be at LambEx 2018 so I’d encourage everyone to make sure they call past!”