Immersive technology connects metro audience with red meat industry

The Primary Preview Day offered Sydney school students the chance to explore MLA’s activities without the crowd.

The Sydney Royal Easter Show is synonymous with agriculture, and this year’s event was another invaluable chance to bring the world of red meat production to those in the city.

Over 800,000 people may have arrived at Sydney Olympic Park for the show, but MLA’s virtual reality (VR) experience transported visitors straight to the farm.

With show gates opening on Friday 22 March, the Australian Good Meat Paddock to Plate VR experience immersed showgoers in day-to-day life on a beef or lamb farm as part of a suite of activities to educate the public about the red meat industry.

Group Manager of Community Communications and Events at MLA Samantha Jamieson said the Sydney Royal Easter Show presents a rare opportunity to improve metro consumers’ perceptions of red meat.

“Across the show’s 12 days, 8,354 visitors attended our Paddock to Plate experience, most of whom may never come into contact with the industry outside of what’s on their dinner plate,” Samantha said.

Of those visitors, 3,300 were surveyed about their experience.

“After immersing themselves in a VR farm tour, 71% of participants surveyed said they had a greater understanding of the Australian red meat industry.”

“It’s become clear that taking people straight to the source – the farm gate – is an unmatched route to educate the public on what meat production really looks like.”

The experience itself saw people wearing VR headsets so they felt as if they were on a farm, with additional videos to address sustainability, meat quality, traceability and animal welfare practices.

“Having this technology where someone can insert themselves into a scenario is a really popular and entertaining way of communicating a message,” Samantha said.

According to the survey results, 84% of participants felt they didn’t know much about the Australian red meat industry prior to the Australian Good Meat Paddock to Plate VR tour.

A team of MLA Red Meat Ambassadors were also there on standby, armed with a lifetime of knowledge about working the industry and ready to chat to whoever was curious.

“It’s so important that people know where their food comes from, and to help answer questions and dispel any myths around what that might look like,” Samantha said.

“Between technology and having feet on the ground, I think it’s been another really successful year for promoting red meat at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.”

For the 500 metro students who visited during the Primary Preview Day, the conversation hopefully won’t end there, with teachers receiving an Australian Good Meat Education pack to pick things back up after returning to the classroom.

“With any luck, maybe we’ll see some of those students again in 15 years, but this time as colleagues in the industry,” Samantha said.

“This year has been one to beat, who knows what we’ll see at next year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show!”

The VR headsets were popular amongst show attendees.

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