SOUTH American beef processing giant, Minerva has made its first investment in the Australian red meat supply chain, completing a deal this week to purchase well-known Brisbane-based non-packer exporter and trading company, IMTP Pty Ltd.
The move represents the arrival in the Asia Pacific region for another of Brazil’s big four beef processors, which to this point has confined its operations primarily to the South American continent.
As outlined in this separate profile on Minerva published this morning, Minerva last year slaughtered close to 2.3 million cattle in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Colombia, generating 580,000 tonnes of beef.
The company has made the IMTP purchase through its new subsidiary, Minerva Australia Holdings, connected to the company’s Uruguayan division.
From completion of the deal this week, IMTP will change its name to Minerva Foods Asia Pty Ltd. That name may give a hint as to where the primary export focus for the Australian operations will be.
IMTP has been trading meat in Australian domestic and export markets since the early 1970s, exporting primarily to Asia, Russia and North America. The company has offices in both Australia and New Zealand.
Company principals Ken Rowell, Mark Hobbs and Michael Connolly confirmed details of the sale to Beef Central this morning.
“We see IMTP’s alignment with Minerva as providing a lot of positives for both companies, and it is a complementary relationship,” Mr Rowell said.
“From the Australian business’s perspective, we see this as a very encouraging export opportunity, as opposed to simply an overseas company buying an Australian business.”
“Minerva has made very large investments in infrastructure in the Middle East, and more recently China, which provides the Australian business with great opportunity to sell into those channels,” Mr Rowell said.
Minerva’s strengths tended to be in markets where IMTP was not particularly strong, and vice versa, Mr Connolly said.
“Minerva has a strong presence and distribution channels in North Africa, the Middle East and South America. IMTP has a strong customer base in Asia. It’s part of the synergy we see between the two business, in being able to supply a suite of products to customers around the world.”
Markets like Saudi, where Minerva has solid sales and future distribution opportunities, is something we are very excited about,” Mr Connolly said.
“We see it as presenting a strong opportunity for the Australian export business to grow. We can see IMTP’s Australian export trade vastly increasing in coming years,” he said.
“It’s an exciting opportunity, but for the day-to-day operations of IMTP and its customers, it will be business as usual.”
IMTP began life as Independent Meat Traders, established by beef industry legend Leo Pugh in the 1970s. The company’s original focus was in domestic wholesale, using service kills carried out at Brisbane’s Cannon Hill abattoir. From the early 1990s, an export component was added, and a trading company backed by IMTP was established in the early 2000s.
In 2009, a management buy-out took place, with the Pugh family selling the business to managers Ken Rowell, Mark Hobbs and Michael Connolly.
Today IMTP is almost totally export-focussed, servicing a wide range of international customers across Asia, North America and elsewhere.
The company stopped toll processing around 2008, today buying all of its requirements direct from export-licensed processors throughout Australia and New Zealand.
In a statement supplied to Beef Central by Minerva yesterday, the company said the investment in IMTP created an opportunity to integrate beef and sheepmeat supply from Australia and New Zealand into Minerva’s extensive sales and distribution network around the world.
“It supports the Saudi Arabian Agricultural and livestock Investment Co’s recent investment in Minerva, in its plans to expand operations into new markets,” the company said.
Minerva currently exports to more than 100 countries and has offices and representatives in the US, Chile, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, Algeria, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and soon in Europe.
There is no suggestion at this point that Minerva has any intentions of buying ‘bricks and mortar’ processing assets in Australia, but sees the Australian investment in IMTP primarily as a marketing opportunity – extending the product range and including lamb for the first time (about 40pc of IMTP’s annual turnover is in sheepmeat), and positioning Australian product as a premium offer, whether it be in chilled table meat or manufacturing beef.
Click here to access a profile on the Minerva company
Come back tomorrow for an interview with Minerva’s Iain Mars, former CEO of JBS Australia