NZ Leather & Shoe Research Association's science platform
The NZ Leather & Shoe Research Association (LASRA) receives $0.9 million per year of Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF) funding for 1 science platform – Export quality hides.
MBIE funding details
In July 2018, NZ Leather & Shoe Research Association received $0.9 million Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF) funding per year for 7 years to June 2024 for 1 science platform – Export quality hides.
About the research
Export quality hides includes research to improve cow and deer hides for export markets.
Below is the public statement from our contract with LASRA.
Read the contract public statement from 2018
Export quality hides ($0.9 million per year)
The Export quality hides Platform aims to grow and secure New Zealand’s hide and skin processing industry. The industry is the primary value outlet for co-products from the meat processing industry and provides significant contribution in export income to the New Zealand economy. However, a range of market challenges threaten the future of the industry if quality, performance and sustainability of the product are unable to keep pace with demands across its diverse export markets.
To meet these rising expectations and demands, Platform research focuses on improvements in quality, environmental sustainability and performance to increase New Zealand’s global competitiveness, maximising the quality and value of each hide and skin, and developing a globally recognised and traceable standard of sustainable production that supports the credentials of the industry.
More specifically the Platform will:
- Develop processes for leather manufacture which require less reagents and minimise discharge of waste. Alternative reagents and processes will be identified to reduce the environmental impact of leather processing;
- Analyse genetic markers for meat quality and other traits to quantify their effect on pelt quality;
- Develop remote sensing technologies which allow features which affect quality to be quantified in real time. A traceability system will be developed to identify the origin of New Zealand products in the market, in support of a chain of custody system. An online database will be developed to allow independent groups to verify origin.
Through improvements in the value of the meat industry’s most valuable co-product, the Platform works to support and develop benefit across the entire farm system by establishing the position of leather as an important component in the future of farming and minimising its contribution to the total carbon footprint.
Recipients of SSIF funding are required to report yearly on the progress of their work programme. Below are the public updates from LASRA’s annual reports
Read the public update from the 2022/2023 annual report
In 2022/2023, our SSIF-funded research Platform made significant progress in our mission to transform the utilisation of hides and skins into high-value products, achieving several significant milestones.
Selected highlights and key achievements
Our research has developed sustainable and highly functional conductive gelatin-based films, sourced from hides and skins. We have also advanced our work on lipidation for labelling, bringing us closer to incorporating traceability into functional materials.
A groundbreaking study, published in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, scrutinised the environmental impact of New Zealand's tanning processes. This pioneering investigation triggered a reassessment of chemical usage and process optimisation in NZ. One outcome of this re-evaluation is a dewooling process that reduces reliance on harsh chemicals, preserving material quality and our environment.
he Hairsheep for Dual-Purpose Meat and Skin Production project is strategically merging the productivity of Romney sheep with shedding traits, significantly enhancing meat and pelt quality. This initiative aligns perfectly with our commitment to sustainable agriculture.
Our work in fault detection technologies, utilising hyperspectral imaging, etc. allows for real-time analysis, predicting microbial loads. This approach leads to substantial cost reductions and waste minimisation in leather production.
Our collaborative efforts with industry stakeholders, processors, and researchers have significantly amplified the impact of the SSIF Platform across the farming and science sectors. Themes 1, 2, and 3 concentrate on collagen-based products, animal breeding, Industry, Industry 4,0 and quality improvements, positioning New Zealand as a global leader in high-value collagen-based products, sustainable skin processing, and fault detection technologies, all geared to meet the long-term needs of the leather and hides industry. Our progress is guided by industry requirements, ensuring sustained growth and long-term sustainability.
For further information, visit:
Research(external link) — LASRA
Contact Geoff Holmes:
Read the public update from the 2021/2022 annual report
Our SSIF Platform has impact across the entire farm system. It seeks to maximise the benefit to NZ from hides and skins, meat processing’s most valuable by-product. The SSIF Platform research strategy focuses on transformative, high quality and performance-orientated outcomes to extract additional value from hides and skins.
To improve raw material quality, we are collaborating on projects to investigate a route to a “future sheep” that requires no shearing, with intrinsically higher strength skins and resistance to parasites and facial eczema. The focus is on reducing the intervention costs to farmers, improvement in animal welfare and generate better skin quality as a knock-on benefit. Our involvement provides early warning of the implications (good or bad) on skin quality of a move to self-shedding/hairsheep in New Zealand.
Our strategy addresses how to best utilise the resource to achieve its highest value. A key objective being the development of zero chemical discharge processing technologies.
Our research in spectral and hyperspectral imaging is developing pathways for the better utilisation of 100% of the available skins and hides in NZ, by redirected them to the correct application at the earliest step to reduce unnecessary processing.