Certified Organic beef on a roll with finalists in national industry awards

Beef Central, 27/02/2024

Ben and Mick Hewitt from Hewitt Foods

THE commitment and expertise of Australia’s certified organic beef industry has been recognised with finalist nominations in multiple major categories in the 2024 Australian Organic Industry Awards, being announced next month.

Australia has more certified organic hectares than any other country on earth. Australia currently accounts for 35 million hectares of Certified Organic land, representing 54pc of the world’s total, and 8.8pc of Australia’s agricultural land (2018 data). Most of Australia’s Certified land area is used for beef production.

Australian Organic Ltd chief executive officer Niki Ford said organic beef producers had worked hard over the past decade to establish their sustainability credentials, develop premium products and educate consumers, and these nominations were an acknowledgement of their success.

The 2024 finalists were selected for their excellence, innovation and commitment to sustainability, Ms Ford said.

“The appearance of so many beef businesses across the award categories is testament to the industry’s hard work and belief in the benefits of organic certification,” she said.

Award finalists this year from the Organic beef industry include:

Hewitt Foods, Qld

Finalist in Business of the Year, Innovation Award and Brand of the Year (Cleaver’s Organic Meat). Hewitt Agribusiness employees Ash Murphy and Montanna Schollick: finalists in Young Organic Leader of the Year.

Appleton Cattle Co, Qld

Principals Anna and Fred Appleton finalists in Organic Woman of the Year and Farmer of the Year respectively.

James Pearson, Bull Creek, McKinlay Qld

Finalist in Farmer of the Year.

Carly Burnham, Bonnie Doone Beef, Monto Qld

Finalist in Farmer of the Year.

Sherwood Road Organic Meats, Qld

Finalist in Retailer of the Year.

Hewitt Foods’ nominations in four categories signifies the company’s success in building brand recognition, exploring innovative farming practices to ensure sustainability, and heavily promoting the value of organic certification marks.

Hewitt’s retail brand, Cleavers, received a finalist nomination in the Innovation Award for introducing new paper-based trays made from recyclable, sustainably sourced materials containing 75pc less plastic than equivalent packs using plastic trays and labels, removing around 40 tonnes of plastic per year from the supply chain.

Employees Ash Murphy and Montanna Schollick are both up for Young Organic Leader, Ash for his management of Hewitt’s Organic lamb operation in southern Australia and Montanna for her role as Certification & Compliance Officer, responsible for establishing the Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) standard in Australia.

“ROC is the highest standard in the world for organic farming and takes into account soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness,” Ms Schollick said.

“Hewitt is the largest ROC certified land area worldwide and through this and our other organic certifications we can sequester carbon, build healthier communities, and harvest more nutritious and abundant yields.”

Stockists of Cleaver’s Organic Meat sausages, Sherwood Road Organic Meats in Rocklea, Brisbane, is a finalist in Retailer of the Year and prides itself on selling one of the largest ranges of certified organic meats in Queensland.

Sherwood Road Butchery owner, Amy Tiller, whose father is a fourth-generation organic meat producer in southwest Queensland, says they’re committed to educating customers about ethical farming practices.

“For the past 10 years we’ve been explaining to consumers what a difference shopping organic makes to their health, our farmers, the lives of our animals and the planet,” Ms Tiller said.

“We also spread this message via our social media channels, and the products we stock are often driven by conversations with our incredibly loyal and clued-in customers, who give us the lead on any trends or new products.”

Educating the public about the benefits and achievements of the industry is also common to the three organic beef producers contesting the Farmer of the Year category.

James Pearson of Bull Creek, McKinlay, is a 15-year veteran of Certified Organic agriculture and combines carcase feedback and data analysis to produce an optimal beef product, as well as educating the wider community about certified organics and sponsoring events in his local area to ensure the beef industry’s longevity.

He is a finalist in the Farmer of the Year category, as is Fred Appleton, who has played a pivotal role in building the Appleton Cattle Company, one of the largest privately owned, family-run organic farming operations in Australia, based in central Queensland.

Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham is another beef producer in the running for the Farmer of the Year title. Fifth generation producers at Monto, Queensland, Ms Burnham and husband Grant gained organic certification for their Bonnie Doone Beef in 2017 and sell into domestic and export markets.

In 2023 the Burnhams became the largest holder of soil carbon credits in Australia, following the implementation of a 25-year soil carbon project in conjunction with CarbonLink (see earlier Beef Central story). They run a eucalypt agriforestry enterprise and host farmstay accommodation and field days alongside their beef business.

A finalist in the Organic Woman of the Year is Fred Appleton’s wife and business partner, Anna, who has been a driving force behind the company’s certification and growth. Anna plays a significant mentoring role for employees, fostering financial literacy and the development of saving plans as well as initiatives to build skillsets and learn about diverse aspects of organic farming, such as regenerative practices.


Source: AOL


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