First Light Scholar passionate about obtaining value from every carcass
A 20-year-old Lincoln University student with a special interest in maximising the value from every carcass is the recipient of First Light Foods’ annual scholarship.
Lucy Hewitt, in her third year of a Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree, grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Pahiatua and returns each summer to help her “pretty busy” father on his land. She says she has long been familiar with the First Light brand through an aunt and uncle who supply the premium grass-fed meat company, and was attracted to the programme because of the hands-on experience it offers.
The First Light scholar, chosen annually since 2014, receives $5,000 as well as the opportunity to attend an immersion week at First Light’s Hawke’s Bay headquarters.
“First Light is a small company doing all the right things,” says Lucy. “I like that they’re agile and able to try new things. I was super excited to have won – particularly as First Light is a company I’d like to potentially work for in the future.”
Lucy has a keen interest in supply chain management, which fits neatly with First Light’s criteria of awarding the scholarship to a person who plans to make their career in a land-based industry, with an emphasis on agribusiness and food. This week, Lucy travelled to Hawke’s Bay to meet with the First Light team and give an address at the company’s annual farmer conference – the Spring Muster.
In it, she spoke of her desire for companies like First Light to make better use of the whole carcass. “Less than 50% of an animal’s carcass is converted into valuable cuts of meat. The remainder is classified as low value or discarded as waste material. As the industry faces sustainability and food security issues there is an absolute necessity to make better use of that remaining 50%,” says Lucy.
The full-time student sees organ meat and offal as one future solution. “On a gram by gram basis, they are much more nutrient dense than their muscle meat counterparts. I believe now is the time for organ meats to take the lead.”
And she suggested to the more than 200 First Light farmers, business partners and members of the management team gathered at the conference that now is the time to capitalise on the premium pet food sector. “Many consumers consider their pets to have equal importance as family members. There is an untapped market for pet food that is of prestigious quality.”
Greg Evans, First Light co-founder, says Lucy was selected as the 2019 First Light scholar as she demonstrated great attitude and effort as a student, and a thirst for working in the red meat industry in the future. “Our objective is to develop relationships with young leaders and encourage them to continue to strive to be the best they can,” says Greg. “Lucy has maintained an A-grade average at university, has a very positive disposition, and we liked her continuous improvement focus across her life. She is passionate about putting this into practice in business, she understands farming, and she is an avid supporter of the First Light differentiated model. Lucy’s career vision to work in the red meat sector, beyond the farm gate, and the many opportunities she sees for the sector, made her a clear choice for the scholarship.”
About First Light:
Established in 2003 by Gerard Hickey, Greg Evans and Jason Ross, First Light is New Zealand’s only commercial producer of 100% grass-fed Wagyu beef, and also markets premium venison. The First Light team set out to create the world’s best grass-fed meat that delivers on flavour and succulence without any shortcuts, unnatural substances or interventions of industrialised production. To achieve that, First Light developed a unique value chain model to produce and deliver grass-fed meats directly from the farm to the person who presents or consumes the steak.