Co-products can be defined as any non-red meat part or product derived from these parts. Co-products comprise a significant - but potentially much larger - proportion of the returns from animal processing.

There are many potential uses of co-products. Some of these - such as the use of hides and skins in clothing - date from prehistoric times. The use of tallow for soap making pre-dates the Roman empire and continues to be an important use of co-products for the Australian red meat industry. 

Advancements in technology and knowledge have identified a new range of co-products that offer significant potential for the Australian red maet industry to increase profitability.

Co-products account for approximately 11% of the value of a slaughtered animal (with skins and hides making up 6%, offal 4% and other rendered products making up the remaining 1% of the value). The remaining 89% of the value is the meat. Co-products make up approximately 62% of the weight of a slaughtered animal.

With an estimate value of $1.7 billion per annum, co-products deliver valuable returns, but have yet to be fully leveraged by the industry in Australia. In many cases, co-products offer more opportunities for innovation and profit than meat and can provide a valuable competitive edge for processing plants.

Co-products can be divided into two main groups:

  • conventional co-products
  • bioactives

AMPC and MLA's co-products program is focused on assisting industry to dispose of all meat products as high as possible up the 'value chain', to maximise the return on each carcass that is processed and to reduce the disposal costs for unused remains.

The co-products program has established a number of objectives. These include:

  • maintaining access to current markets and developing access to new markets through building the perception of Australia as a trusted supplier of high quality co-products
  • developing access to new markets by exploring innovative value added product applications
  • undertaking research and development to maximise the opportunity to value add to the raw material base
  • developing a university-based research and development capability for the Australian rendering industry