21 Sep 2011

Cup opportunity to trial merino meat brand

7:27 am on 21 September 2011

The New Zealand merino industry is known around the world for its wool - but hopes Rugby World Cup visitors will be also be acquiring a taste for its meat.

New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge says at the moment merino is not differentiated from regular lamb - but it is actually more juicy and leaner with a silkier texture and superior taste, and should fetch higher prices.

The company has teamed up with meat exporter Silver Fern Farms to create a luxury meat brand called Silere which it eventually plans to sell to top restaurants in high-end international markets.

In the meantime, it has arranged for selected restaurants in Auckland and Dunedin to trial the meat for diners during the Rugby World Cup.

"It's a great opportunity to showcase an iconic New Zealand product," Mr Brakenridge says, "but also to get some feedback as we move into our plans for the international rollout of the brand."

He says the meat will help to double the $150 million merino industry over the next five years.