An agriculture student is calling for New Zealand meat producers to maximise the value from carcasses, as a way to help address sustainability and food security issues.
Lincoln University student Lucy Hewitt has been named as the recipient of First Light Foods' scholarship.
The First Light scholar, chosen annually since 2014, receives $5,000 as well as the opportunity to attend an immersion week at First Light's Hawke's Bay headquarters.
The 20-year-old is in her third year of a Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food, and grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Pahiatua.
She has a keen interest in supply chain management, which fitted well with First Light's criteria of awarding the scholarship to a person who plans to make their career in a land-based industry, with an emphasis on agribusiness and food.
Hewitt recently travelled to Hawke's Bay to meet with the First Light team and give an address at the company's annual farmer conference - the Spring Muster.
In it, she spoke of her desire for companies like First Light to make better use of the whole carcass.
"Less than 50 percent of an animal's carcass is converted into valuable cuts of meat. The remainder is classified as low value or discarded as waste material," she said.
"As the industry faces sustainability and food security issues there is an absolute necessity to make better use of that remaining 50 percent," said Hewitt.
"On a gram by gram basis, they are much more nutrient-dense than their muscle meat counterparts. I believe now is the time for organ meats to take the lead."
She suggested to the more than 200 First Light farmers, business partners and members of the management team gathered at the conference that now is the time to capitalise on the premium pet food sector.
"Many consumers consider their pets to have equal importance as family members. There is an untapped market for pet food that is of prestigious quality."
First Light co-founder, Greg Evans said Hewitt was selected for the scholarship because she showed great attitude and effort as a student and a thirst for working in the red meat industry in the future.
"Our objective is to develop relationships with young leaders and encourage them to continue to strive to be the best they can," he said.
"Lucy has maintained an A-grade average at university, has a very positive disposition, and we liked her continuous improvement focus across her life. She is passionate about putting this into practice in business, she understands farming, and she is an avid supporter of the First Light differentiated model," said Evans.
First Light is New Zealand's only commercial producer of 100 percent grass-fed Wagyu beef, and also markets premium venison.