Harvey Beef to become industry leader

28 Aug, 2014 02:00 AM
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John Hartman (left) and Felicity Gooding of Minderoo Group's Harvey Beef
We also have a strong interest and desire to start a conversation with industry
John Hartman (left) and Felicity Gooding of Minderoo Group's Harvey Beef

ANDREW Forrest's Minderoo Group wants to open the lines of communication with Harvey Beef and Western Australian producers.

Minderoo's investment manager John Hartman said WA is ready for Harvey Beef to take the lead in putting agriculture on the world map.

Minderoo purchased Harvey Beef 13 weeks ago, but Mr Hartman said it is focused on creating a sustainable, supportive and deep relationship within the supply chain.

"Minderoo is in it for the long-term," Mr Hartman said.

"We saw a business that was not operating in the best possible way.

Mr Hartman said Minderoo recognised that Harvey Beef was not longer investing in selling itself to its full capacity and wasn't competing in price against its East coast competitors.

"We saw a business that had ceased the conversation in many respects with the most important element - the producers," Mr Hartman said.

Speaking at the WAFarmers Future Opportunities for Beef forum in Busselton last week, Mr Hartman started that conversation and said there needed to be a consistent supply of a consistent product going forward.

Harvey Beef is looking for quality, premium, green product that it can sell to the key markets.

"We need to put forward-contacts back on the table that allow producers more certainty around their future income streams," he said.

"We require people to come with us."

Minderoo recognised that Harvey Beef was unable to give the clear signals required to allow producers to make long-term investment back into their properties and herds - but plan to get it right once and for all.

Although Mr Hartman couldn't give producers at the forum specifics on what type of cattle Harvey Beef will require, Mr Hartman said those conversation will occur soon.

"Our feeling is that WA is ready for change, and ready for Harvey beef to take a strong leadership position," Mr Hartman said.

"In the short time we have done a lot of work... it takes time to get the specifics and what we see as requirements, but when we send our signals we want to stand behind them.

"The last thing I want to do is give signals today that we can't stand behind and that's why we are taking our time.''

WAFarmers president Dale Park said Mr Forrest's investment has added value to the industry.

He said having Minderoo representatives attend the forum was well received by the audience.

"It's good they have opened the door to producers, and when they provide us with more details we know they will stand behind it," Mr Park said.

"Everyone was really pleased to see they made an effort to be there at the forum.

"Producers were pleased to hear that they are happy to talk and build those relationships with them - it was a real positive."

Mr Hartman said there is nothing new with what Minderoo is trying to do, but said it wants to "give it a crack".

"We want to take a journey, as a leader, but we also want to take people that want to go on a journey with us," he said.

"We have a commitment and will follow through on this, to invest back into the plant and spend the capital required in order to get the facility back to a place it needs to be, to efficiently access markets.

"We want to make sure this isn't a false start, we want to get it right once and for all - we are not scared of the leadership position that we are going to have to take.

"Outside the expansion we plan for the plant, we also have a strong interest and desire to start a conversation with industry."

He said Minderoo is working on developing relationships with China, but it won't stop there.

China is just one market opportunity for Harvey Beef, particularly given the relationships Mr Forrest has built up there over the past 10 years through his Fortescue Metals Group.

But Mr Hartman said Harvey Beef will not forget the domestic markets and the other 35 countries it also export to.

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READER COMMENTS

Plan B
28/08/2014 5:02:31 PM, on Farm Weekly

How about Andrew buying Elders also
Beef man
29/08/2014 8:41:04 AM, on Farm Weekly

Don't sink the boot into producers pay them fairly and you will have a good buisness a lot of abattoirs in wa belt there producers with outlandish penalties so many producers went and did other things instead of beef

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