AWB will allay grower concerns: Lindberg

26 Feb, 2004 07:00 PM
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AWBI director Andrew Lindberg admitted at the pre-AGM Merredin meeting that the company was not perfect, but was tackling concerns such as the maximisation of grower profit.

Mr Lindberg said the hiring of independent consulting company Boston Consulting Group would help the company implement improved strategies in the future.

He acknowledged the issues that needed to be addressed were the way the single desk is managed and flow of information and commitment between AWBI and AWBL, to growers.

"The growers must feel the system is working for them," he said.

The 2001/2002 national pool extension in the drought year, which added $285m to the pool, proved both the Wheat Export Authority and AWB protected growers in a tight supply year, Mr Lindberg said.

He reinforced AWB's commitment to growers and highlighted the securing of a $400m wheat deal with Iraq.

Competition would increase in the market place this season as Canada and the US recovered from droughts.

However, a grain production decrease in China and strong exporting programs in Pakistan and Indonesia still had enormous potential for Australia.

Mr Lindberg predicted a 2004/2005 pool estimate of $190-$200t after a record 24.8mt harvest this season.

The Grain Direct project, a joint venture with CBH, was expected to save $35m a year by 2008/2009.

Mr Lindberg said AWBI and AWB also had a vision and strategy for Landmark.

"Landmark is a high priority and provides even more opportunity for Australian agriculture," he said.

The acquisition of Landmark would not interfere with the company's core business of selling grain.

Mr Lindberg said Landmark had a history of strong business enterprise and expertise with more than 400 outlets nationwide.

The future would hold a wide offering of commercial sales, fertilisers, chemicals and finance.

The expansion of AWB's interests directly benefited all shareholders.

The purchase of Landmark could one day see a farmer pay for next season's fertiliser on his wheat cheque.

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