Silver Fern Farms is pulling out of a five-year project to market merino sheep meat under the Silere brand
The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) will take over full ownership of the project which it previously owned 50-50 with Silver Fern Farms in a company called Alpine Origin Merino Limited.
Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton said his company wanted to push its own brand of meat under its own label.
"We are looking to create our own Silver Fern Farms branded premium lamb range for food service, which is not breed specific, so it can be sourced from across a wider group of our shareholder supplier base, consistent with what we have achieved with our Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Reserve Beef range."
He said the merino meat market was proving difficult.
"It was only of a certain size and a very niche end market product, and from a supply side it was challenging to get 12 months of merino supply.
"Our preference was to create a product that could scale up to be larger than what Silere has, but Silere is a good product and I think it's logical for New Zealand Merino to be the owner of that."
NZM Chief Executive John Brakenridge said they plan to keep pushing the brand.
"When we set out we needed to prove merino meat could be differentiated as a luxury eating experience and value created in market could be delivered to grower suppliers.
"The intention is for Alpine Origin Merino to continue to develop and build the Silere brand in niche markets globally."