Harve Beef committed to WA

23 Jan, 2008 09:00 PM
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HARVEY Beef is now processing 700 head of cattle a day and is keen to maintain that capacity throughout the year.

New chief executive officer Michael Rapattoni spent last week on the road meeting producers as part of a new strategy to broaden communication.

Mr Rapattoni said while he understood that some producers believed they were not receiving viable prices, Harvey Beef were actually offering contract prices that were 6pc more than the same time last year.

He said he now viewed eastern states’ processors as the company’s main competition.

“We have made a commitment to the industry by ramping up our second shift,” he said.

“A big recruiting drive has seen our labour force increase by 300 people to just over 600 and we are now looking at ways to ensure that we can maintain capacity levels for longer than three or four months a year.

“The only way to do this is with the support of the producers and we will be putting some plans in place to achieve our goals.”

Mr Rapattoni said while the majority of his company’s products was destined for the export market he saw more opportunity for the domestic sales.

“WA produces some of the best quality beef in the world and that is where our opportunities lie,” he said.

“At the moment 70pc of our product goes to the export market and 30pc is sold domestically.

“We would like to bring that back to a 60:40 ratio.”

Mr Rapattoni said if Coles came back into the WA market it could be a potentially fantastic opportunity.

“There have been reports of Harvey Beef engaging in a bidding war to secure the Coles contract and while we have had superficial discussions with them on pricing there has been nothing set down as yet,” he said.

Red Meat Action Group chairman Gary Buller said it had met with Harvey Beef management last week and while the group still had some concerns about pricing he welcomed the opportunity to meet with the processor.

“We are still concerned about the sustainability of the industry going forward,” Mr Buller said.

“Price is still an issue and if there is not a lift in prices soon there will be an exodus of cattle producers out of the industry.

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