By Laurissa Smith

Have a craving for lamb, but can’t be bothered cooking it yourself? Well now there is a vending machine to do all the work for you. The first one in Australia has just been installed at a convenience store in Cootamundra, in southern New South Wales. Accessed from outside the store, it dispenses hot lamb meals, including tagine and Italian meatballs 24 hours a day. The meals are chilled and vacuum sealed to last around 30 days in the machine and take around two to three minutes to heat while you wait. Victorian meat processors the Frew Group, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Meat Processors Corporation (AMPC) are involved in the ready meals project. Their goal is to find new ways to value-add secondary lamb cuts, which can be overlooked by international meat buyers. Peter Nolan is familiar with the industry’s predicament. He was involved in meat processing for a number years before purchasing the convenience store with his wife Julie. “Trim is always a slow moving line or product, so you end up with stores and stores of lamb trim trying to sell at discounted rates, ” Mr Nolan said. “If this is another way of adding value to that successfully and adding value to the sheep farmer, well I think it’s a win-win for everyone right the way through the supply chain.” To cut down on transport costs, he plans to develop a commercial kitchen at the store and produce the ready meals locally and possibly with his own lamb. “I’d love to see a lamb shank in there, a mumma’s style lamb shank roasted or something like that.” Michael Lee, MLA’s program manager for research, development and innovation said the vending machine had been trialled at several overseas food expos. “More locations are being investigated, including markets such as Holland, UK, US and Japan are being targeted for commercial reality. “The project aims to achieve 160 vending machines worldwide within five years. “If these vending machines can sell conservatively 10 meals a day, they could bring around $1.6 million a year in net profit.”

(Photo taken by Carmen Hickey, Forever Rose)

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-08/lamb-vending-machine-cootamundra/8103474