Slaughterman Duc Lo brought his skills and work ethic to Gympie from Vietnam to make a new future in Australia with meat industry innovation leader Nolan Meats.
Slaughterman Duc Lo brought his skills and work ethic to Gympie from Vietnam to make a new future in Australia with meat industry innovation leader Nolan Meats. Renee Pilcher

Gympie leads nation in food safety

ONE of the Gympie Region's major employers has won a significant national award for pioneering work in export food safety.

A beaming Nolan Meats director Terry Nolan said yesterday the company's food safety effort over the past six years had revolutionised Australia's export meat industry, saving money and careers.

Mr Nolan credited the power of belief for the firm's success, in an industry so competitive meatworks' numbers had fallen across the nation from 700 a generation ago to only 132.

They all said it could not be done, when the Nolans set about changing the Australian meat industry's export culture - while persuading overseas markets to accept the changes and alter their own laws and regulations.

But Mr Nolan said the business would not have existed in the first place had founder and patriarch Pat Nolan listened to naysayers.

THE six-year campaign that placed the Nolans in the export safety forefront in the Australian meat industry began with belief.

Then came the effort and persistence, Terry Nolan said at the firm's East Deep Creek processing plant yesterday.

Now, Nolan Meats is the only meat processor in the world exporting to the top-shelf export customer countries of the US, Japan and South Korea.

The amazing local success story really began in 1995, when the Queensland Government wanted to exit its role in the inspection of meat at meatworks, devolving the responsibility to processors themselves.

By 1997, the company had its own quality assurance system in place and in 2001, went to export to new markets in New Guinea, Indonesia, Jamaica and Middle Eastern nations.

In 1999, they began the arduous process of winning American approval for their system and began trial exports in 2006.

"By late 2008, we became the first plant in the world to put beef into the USA under this new system."

The same thing happened in Japan in 2010 and in Korea and Taiwan earlier this year.

The Nolans' self-assessment system has now been introduced across the Australian meat industry and recently Mr Nolan and the company's standards co-ordinator Ian Peace accepted a 2011 processing innovation award, for their work in pioneering the new Australian export meat inspection system.

Mr Nolan said the company's progress allowed it to maintain and build on its role as a major employer and economic driver for the region.