KEEPING cattle supply consistent 52 weeks of the year is a key focus for the Harvey Beef business.
Harvey Beef general manager livestock Kim McDougall addressed last week's Harvey Beef Gate 2 Plate Challenge and Meat and Livestock Australia BeefUp day and said this was the main catalyst for the company's plan to build the Koojan Downs facility near Moora.
Harvey Beef's parent company, Harvest Road Group, owned by Andrew and Nicola Forrest, announced in December that it would be spending $50 million on developing a large-scale integrated backgrounding and intensive grainfeeding business.
"This project will comprise longer fed programs where we can take cattle out to greater weights and will also provide backgrounding opportunities for more producers to participate in and it will give us some certainty," Mr McDougall said.
"This project will run 52 weeks of the year, week-in, week-out, taking WA beef and putting it on plates across Australia and around the globe.
"The WA cattle supply sits at approximately 2.1 million head, with 1.1m of those in the north and 1m in the south.
"About 300,000 head goes into live export and 400,000 into the processing sector and of that 400,000 Harvey Beef is processing about 150,000 on an annualised basis, so we are very committed and interested in your (cattle producers) well-being because we have a big business centred around this.
"The most important thing for processors is operating 52 weeks of the year and keeping our cost of production real or as low as we can to be competitive in the markets we operate in.
"Of course seasons across WA where cattle supply comes from don't all happen at the same time.
"So when it is spring in the south, it is boiling hot in the north and when it is winter in the south, we are taking cattle out of the north.
"Our challenge as a processor is how we interface those and bring them together to keep 52 weeks of the year production maintained and level.
"We employ some 500 employees and when they turn up each day they want to know they have regular work, that enables us to employ good staff and keep good staff and that also helps the communities that we are based in.
"Regular cattle supply is the vehicle we can use to do our best work in the greater community."
Mr McDougall said from a processor point of view it was important to have viability within the whole industry.
"That is for you as producers and for us and for all participants in the supply chain," he said.
"This is about symbiotic relationships where we actually work together to get an outcome and that is the kind of conversations we are having with producers today.
"That is our mission in the future and we want to bring people along on the journey."
Knowing your customer was also an important consideration for all involved in the beef industry.
"You need to understand what the customer wants," Mr McDougall said.
"How can you best meet your customer and what they require to keep you in the game.
"Our job is to go to the market, whether it be domestic or international and find out what they require, then come back to producers and say 'this is what we would like you to produce' because we have customers giving us this feedback so let's put it together and make it happen.
"It is simple but it takes a commitment from us and from you."