WA Meat Marketing Co-operative livestock manager Peter Krupa has announced his retirement after 23 years, with industry veteran Mike Curnick set to take over the role. A stalwart of the processing sector, Mr Krupa has been in the role since WAMMCO formed in 1999. During that time he is credited with helping WA sheep producers reshape their industry to provide heavier, higher yielding lambs for the lucrative North American market. “The new co-operative had identified the North American market for lamb as its best opportunity to underwrite a major genetic advance with the State lamb flock,” Mr Krupa recalled. “WAMMCO directors later reaffirmed WAMMCO’s position by taking a key supplier share in The Australian Lamb Company, which has since grown to be a major supplier of Australian and New Zealand lamb into North America.” During several previous decades, Mr Krupa said lamb had virtually become a by-product of the Merino wool industry, producing lighter lambs unsuitable for many markets. “I was privileged to work with the WA producer board and the team at WAMMCO … to change the culture and prospects of the industry in WA,” he said. “It was an evolution over several years in the early 2000s era that not only saw the average weight of WA lambs — both crossbred and Merino — increase dramatically, but also the price per kilogram of our prime lamb climb steadily, from very few dollars to well above the $8/kg levels of today.” Mr Krupa said WAMMCO’s weight and grade selling system and the offer of supply contracts, particularly for out-of-season lamb, had played a major role. Support from a network of WA livestock brokers was also developed as a vital component of WAMMCO’s lamb supply network, he said. “The key WA producers who accepted this challenge of the new century are now world leaders in developing the genetics that offer not only more prime meat, but more lambs from high fertility sires and ewes,” Mr Krupa said. “As a result, WA now enjoys a global reputation for its low-fat, high yielding lamb.” Mr Krupa said WAMMCO also worked with a State network of key feedlotters to adapt lamb types and marketing programs to improve their viability, with feedloting now a “vital link” in the co-operative’s ability to supply world markets with prime lamb all-year-round. “It has enabled some of these bigger producers to transfer their flow of lamb product from the live sheep export to the processing industry,” he said. “As with the breeding programs, WAMMCO not only offered price incentives for feedlot lamb, but also assisted in developing feed rations and reducing rejection rates for feedlot lambs.” WAMMCO chief executive Coll MacRury paid tribute to Mr Krupa, whom he said was “amongst the last of his generation”. “They don’t make livestock operators these days like Peter … he will be missed,” Mr MacRury said. “I cannot speak highly enough of Peter and would like to thank him sincerely for his enormous contribution to the Australian, and particularly WA, lamb industry over many years. “I wish Peter a very long, healthy and enjoyable retirement.” Hailing from Loxton, South Australia, Mr Krupa joined Elders livestock after finishing school and went on to manage meat processing plants in SA and WA for Metro Meat International, before joining WAMMCO. He will retire on June 30. His successor Mr Curnick has held previous roles including livestock manager for Emanuel Exports, and sheep and lamb commercial manage for Elders WA.