Forget the infamous "Get some pork on your fork" and "Be like Sam, serve lamb" advertising campaigns. We could soon be urged to eat roo for Australia, as the kangaroo meat industry looks for a lifeline after its export market collapsed.Russia, which buys 70 per cent of Australia’s kangaroo meat, primarily for sausages, has temporarily suspended buying the meat.The ban has been a wake-up call for the $270 million kangaroo meat industry, highlighting its reliance on one market.Already 50 workers, or 10 per cent of the industry’s full-time workforce, have lost their jobs at a processing plant in Longreach as a result of the ban."The industry does depend substantially on exporting manufactured meat for processing in Russia," Barbara Wilson, the chief executive of the food regulator Safe Food Queensland, said. "Globally it has never been tougher to keep an export market. "The kangaroo meat industry is working with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to try to have the ban overturned. In the meantime it is seeking ways to counteract the effect of the ban, which starts on Saturday.At a crisis meeting in Brisbane yesterday, the industry discussed developing new markets, such as exporting to Asian countries such as the Philippines and manufacturing other processed meat products such as kangaroo salami and jerky.Boosting local kangaroo meat sales is considered the best short-term measure, as it is the most achievable."Lifting domestic consumption would make a significant improvement in the future fortunes of the industry," Ms Wilson said.But while kangaroo meat is considered a premium meat overseas because it is lean and quite gamey, it has yet to reach mainstream status in Australia as some people feel squeamish about the idea of eating Skippy."We tend not to be as receptive to the consumption of kangaroo meat compared with overseas," Ms Wilson said. "The industry needs to see how it can get kangaroo meat on MasterChef."The industry would dearly love to emulate the success Meat and Livestock Australia had with its Sam Kekovich Australia Day campaign. The Queensland Government is considering providing some funding for an "eat roo" campaign.
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