WHEN their four daughters were little, Western Downs beef producer Karen Penfold colour coded their work shirts so husband Dan could tell, when mustering from the air, who was who.
Fast-forward to 2021 and sisters Bonnie, Molly, Jemima and Matilda, now young adults, haven’t lost any enthusiasm for working in the family’s cattle business, while Karen and Dan continue to take an innovative approach to every aspect of the enterprise.
Together, the sisters are the faces of Four Daughters, a premium 150-day grainfed Black Angus beef brand the family launched in 2019 to diversify and expand their business with a firm eye on succession planning.
The Penfolds initially targeted the Chinese foodservice and retail sectors, exporting Four Daughters beef directly to a wholesaler in Wuhan, China.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, disrupting supply chains and the foodservice sector globally, they once again had to use their innovative approach to quickly develop a domestic market for their branded beef.
Four Daughters beef is now sold in packs in a signature Pink Beef Box, delivered direct to customers in Queensland, featuring a selection of choice Black Angus cuts, premium mince and gourmet sausages.
The Penfolds are also exploring alternative markets in Korea, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates as the global foodservice sector looks to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
While the events of 2020 created immense uncertainty for Australian farmers and agribusiness owners, Karen believes resilience and teamwork will ensure the long-term success of the Four Daughters brand.
“Being a successful farmer means being a problem-solver and the younger generation are so positive and proactive when it comes to doing that,” Karen said
“Our girls look at every challenge that arises with a different set of eyes and attack it with enormous energy and vigour because they know it’s their future we’re all working towards.”
The Penfolds turn off around 9000 head a year from their four cattle properties and two feedlots near Meandarra, Talwood and Yaraka, supplying a major supermarket chain.
The Penfolds will be guest speakers at the NAB Ladies Lunch at Beef 2021 in Rockhampton on Friday, 7 May. Unfortunately tickets are already sold out.
For the Penfolds, having a strong working relationship with their bank has been essential to helping them adapt and expand over the years and get the Four Daughters brand off the ground.
“Dan’s family are long-time NAB customers and now so are we,” Karen said.
“NAB has always been open to creative thinking and different ideas. We like the fact that our banker is willing to come and sit down at the kitchen table and go through things, to nut them out with us.”
NAB Agribusiness Manager, Andrew Harland, and NAB Business Banking Executive, Jason Coonan, both based at Roma, work closely with the Penfolds to support the expansion and diversification of their livestock and cropping operations.
“If the girls are home, they sit in on the meetings with us. They’re absolutely involved in the operation of the business and how it financially functions. That’s a really positive thing and it’s something we as bankers encourage farming families to do,” Jason said.
“If the next generation are heading towards being part of the business, they are better off being involved in the financial side early on, not just the physical side.”
“The Penfolds are very innovative, always trying to stay ahead of the curve and look for opportunities to market their brand, and tell the paddock to plate story,” Andrew said.
“They have worked hard on their marketing and understand the importance of their brand to achieve their goals, and we’re happy to help them.”
Andrew said among the developments NAB had funded was the installation of a centre pivot so the Penfolds could utilise an existing water licence and provide them with more surety in crop production and silage for their livestock.
“For red meat producers, livestock is their cash flow and their number one trading asset,” Andrew said.
“Both of the family’s feedlots are at capacity at the moment, and they are looking at further expansion of their main feedlot down the track.
“They’re also looking to expand their breeder operation in the long-term, so they can produce their own progeny and mitigate the costs of buying cattle in.
“As their cattle trading business has expanded, we’ve looked at alternate funding lines rather than the traditional loan and overdraft, including exploring a borrowing base facility which enables customers to leverage off their cattle herd to further grow that side of the business.”
Exclusion fencing has also been installed on the majority of their holdings to prevent wild dog predation.
Source: NAB. The Penfolds feature in the 2021 NAB Agribusiness Calendar and will be guest speakers at the NAB Ladies Lunch at Beef Australia 2021 on Friday, 7 May, in Rockhampton. Tickets are already sold out for the event.