Paddock to plane: red meat flies high

Meat & Livestock Australia, 06/05/2019

MLA Corporate Chef Sam Burke and Gate Gourmet’s regional executive chef for the Asia Pacific region Jeremy Steele on board MLA’s virtual reality Paddock to Plate bus

From slow-cooked lamb shoulder with roasted garlic mash to Texan-style barbecue beef brisket, the mouth-watering meal options recently received a big tick of approval from a group of travel agents invited to visit Gate Gourmet’s Sydney kitchen.

Heading the menu overhaul has been Gate Gourmet’s regional executive chef for the Asia Pacific region, Jeremy Steele. Gate Gourmet is part of the global gate group, which services end-to-end airline catering from 200 facilities in 60 countries. Gate Gourmet produces 22,000 meals a day out of its main full service hot kitchen in Mascot and Jeremy leads 19 kitchens in 10 countries from the Middle East to North East Asia.

Recipe development

MLA Corporate Chef Sam Burke explained an extensive behind-the-scenes process to developing airline meal options has to tick many boxes.

“We have to meet cost-of-goods targets, be able to guarantee cuts are readily available into all Gate Gourmet’s kitchens, be on trend with the celebrity chefs employed by airlines and our Studio Culinaire team, create options that are easy to prepare by cabin staff at 30,000 feet, taste great and answer passenger demands in terms of provenance and sustainable production of food,” he said.

“Australian red meat is trusted, natural and delicious, so it allows us to deliver on just that.”

Chef Jeremy said Gate Gourmet Sydney’s 52 qualified chefs were passionate about fresh food.

“Working with MLA means we can have confidence our meals are backed up by a quality ingredient we know eats well every time,” he said.

“The airlines we work with are talking about meeting all customer demands, including the desire to know more about where their food comes from. We’re looking to take the initiative and show provenance, show that it meets all their demands for issues like sustainability.”

Virtual reality

As part of the visit, the group of travel agents, invited by Gate Gourmet’s client Singapore Airlines, were treated to a tour on-board MLA’s virtual reality Paddock to Plate bus, which gave them an understanding of Australia’s red meat production systems.

Travel agents are important influencers and food is increasingly becoming a differentiator for airlines.

Sam told the travel agents red meat was an integral part of Australian life and our beef and lamb was marketed all around the world.

He explained that for more than 200 years, Aussie producers have passed their knowledge down from generation to generation, creating a proud and professional industry that has become famous for producing some of the world’s best quality red meat.

MLA staff were on hand to discuss the natural environment to raise cattle and sheep that Australia boasts, the excellent reputation it enjoys for quality assurance, food safety and traceability systems and world-leading eating quality system Meat Standards Australia.

Chef Matthew Morgan, development chef at Luke Mangan & Company, looks after Virgin Australia business class and Luke’s restaurants on P&O Cruises, and described the Paddock to Plate virtual reality concept as progressive.

“I haven’t seen the paddock to plate process before and it was extremely informative,” he said.

“Everyone – from home cooks to airline passengers – want to know more about where their food comes from and that it is produced sustainably.”

NSW Farmers welcomes paddock to plane study

Meanwhile, NSWDeputy Premier John Barilaro has announced a pre-feasibility study into potential locations for international freight airports.

The study will also explore two-way trade opportunities to maximise profitability and improve services to regional NSW, such as direct parcel delivery.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the announcement compliments the Association’s successful bid to underpin a new era of regional food systems with a Future Foods Systems Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

“Fresh food logistics tools to support the rapid export of perishable premium goods is one of the aims of the new CRC. International freight from airports like Coffs Harbour, Armidale and Parkes will be important in achieving this aim,” Mr Jackson said.

“We could send fresh berries from Coffs Harbour, oysters from the Merimbula airport or lamb from Armidale directly to markets in Asia and the Middle East. The sky is literally the limit.”

“We would urge the State Government to work with the new Future Foods Systems CRC on this project. The CRC has all the expertise from industry, research bodies and Government to exploit opportunities with international freight from regional airports.”

The pre-feasibility study is being delivered as part of the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund. More information can be found at

Sources: MLA, NSW Farmers 



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  1. Paul Franks, 07/05/2019

    It is all well and good for MLA to be spending their money like this, but what is in it for the producers that for whatever reason do not go after the premium markets? Reading another article on Beef Central it appeared to show Australia losing market share to the USA. Which is odd since the USA has no integrity system.

    Then there is the matter of current abattoir prices for cows is consistently far behind the prices offered for steers and heifers. The current price gulf (approx $1/kg) is far greater then it has been traditionally, yet grinding beef prices are not at all time lows, in fact Beef Central on 4th April said prices were at four year highs) Add on to that when a producers tries to enter the MSA market they get hit with a feedback sheet that says. “Meets MSA specifications, fails company specifications”

    So besides taking their $5 a head levy what does MLA and affiliated organisations currently offer the producer that does not have fantastic quality land and can not chase premium markets?

  2. Glen Feist, 06/05/2019

    This marketing program is a great initiative and has the potential to get red meat into the mouths of hundreds of thousands of consumers. As a frequent flyer over the years I have seen the decline of red meat on the menus of aircraft which I suspect has something to do with plate costs and a cheaper protein alternative. However with this program the “captured global audience” on the plane has little choice but to try and then enjoy fantastic Australian red meat. If you try it and like it, chances are when you go home and next go shopping you will buy it.

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