Some of Western Australia’s biggest names in agriculture have lent their support to a new meat cooperative, in hopes this will lead to the reopening of the Northwest’s only slaughterhouse earlier this year. next.
- Owners of a dormant slaughterhouse in the northwest hope to restructure their property into a cooperative
- Spudshed owner Tony Galati and prominent pastors have expressed support for the formation of the Kimberley Meat Co-op.
- It is hoped that the treatment facility can reopen again in time for the 2022 season
The Kimberley Meat Company facility, owned by Yeeda Pastoral Company, closed a year ago, due to record cattle prices, supply shortages and seasonally low beef trim prices in the United States. , where approximately 50% of KMC’s ground beef is exported. every year.
Since then, the company has spoken to 14 players in the Kimberley Meat Cooperative’s creative industry, including the Galati Group Spudshed retail store.
As part of this proposed collaborative ownership model, KMC will acquire the idle abattoir 100 km east of Broome, handling at least 40,000 head of cattle per year.
CEO Tony Galati said it was an exciting opportunity to gain access to processing in the Northwest, to supply local beef to its 15 retail stores across the state.
Currently, the Galati group grazes cattle in the northwest, trucking their beef over 2,500 kilometers for processing at a facility in Perth.
“We are very keen to get involved with the slaughterhouse, because we want to promote beef from Western Australia,” said Mr Galati.
“I think we can be profitable in the Perth market and provide a product from Western Australia to consumers in Western Australia.
“I think everyone is cooperating as a group and has the same direction. I think it will be a great success.”
Local transformation, a victory for pastors
The owner of giant Wagyu Pardoo Beef Corporation, Bruce Cheung, agreed there is huge potential to develop the region into a global premium boxed beef player.
His company manages 22,000 head of pure Wagyu and Bos indicus crossbreeds at four properties in Kimberley and Pilbara, sending 2,500 head to Perth to Bunbury-based meat processor V&V Walsh each year.
“It doesn’t make much sense to ship cattle 2,000 kilometers south for processing,” he said.
“It’s important because the transport and all the stress [on the animals] could be minimized. “
Mr. Cheong said they could lose up to $ 500 per animal in transportation, finishing and shrinkage costs to process cattle in the south.
“Depending of course on the weight of the cattle [costs] can cost between $ 200 and $ 300 per animal. This is before the shrinkage, ”he said.
“Once you get down to the south you have to find a way to rest them [and[ over that period of time there’s also standing fees involved and a little bit of feed involved to bring them back to where they ought to have been.”
However, Mr Cheung said there were some challenges still ahead for his highly prized wagyu beef industry to expand in the north.
He said having grain to feed and finish is an important element of wagyu production and suitable feedlot facilities would need to be established in the region.
Still some challenges ahead
As for investing in the KMC, Mr Cheung said he felt they would need more detail on costs and the management structure to confidently invest.
“For us it’s not a money issue…it’s more who are the players involved…who is going to drive this?” he said.
“I believe in the ability of the current operators but the key is can you consistently put at least 40,000 head evenly year-round through that abattoir?
“I believe the government wants to see this, the industry wants it to happen and if we could put all our tiny little differences aside, and our egos aside, it can happen.”
Some of the other players known to have expressed interest in joining the co-op are Gogo Station, Anna Plains, Country Downs and the native-owned station of Roebuck Plains.
Each member would have a stake of between 2 and 20 percent. It would be governed according to the “one member, one vote” principle and managed by a board of directors appointed by its members.
The processing plant already holds licenses to export products to Canada, United States, European Union countries, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, South Korea, South Africa South and Indonesia.
Final approval pending
Yeeda Pastoral Company executive chairman Mervyn Key said he was confident the new slaughterhouse ownership structure would be finalized before the end of the year.
“This cooperative solution to beef processing will provide pastoralists with a safe, reliable and economical marketing route as an alternative to exporting live products, while respecting the best animal welfare standards, including limiting the transportation of livestock.” at a minimum, ”he said.
“The only outstanding issue is getting all the documentation approved by the state government… and this should definitely be resolved by the end of November, well in time to start the new season.”
WA Minister of Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan met with potential KMC members in Broome yesterday to discuss the formation of the cooperative.
She said the formation of KMC would herald a new era for the northern beef industry.
“Local processing offers a new market for the northern beef industry, creating local jobs in the Kimberley and meeting international demand for quality WA beef products,” said Minister MacTiernan.
Project to reopen the slaughterhouse in 2022
KMC plans to begin operations at the slaughterhouse in early 2022, a facility that opened with great fanfare less than five years ago.
It was designed by Kimberley breeder Jack Burton, founder and former managing director of the company, and became the first major processor to operate in the area since 1993.
At the time, the facility was referred to as a ‘game changer’ for the Northwestern pastoral industry, with the nearest slaughterhouses more than 2,000 kilometers away in the Northern Territory and southern India. Washington State.
Since moving away from Yeeda Pastoral Company in 2019, he has focused on expanding his own pastoral operations, partnering with a number of traditional owner groups.
This year, Mr. Burton sought approval from Broome County to build a small-scale facility to process up to 50 head of cattle per week at the Kilto station.
He recently told the ABC that he hopes the micro-slaughterhouse will be able to serve the premium beef market for local restaurants, moving away from large-volume exports of ground beef at a time when cattle slaughter levels had reached their lowest level in 35 years.