Specialist veal and lamb processor and exporter, Tasmanian Quality Meats was the big winner from the meat industry in the 2013 Australian Exporter awards announced in Melbourne last night.
The 51st Australian Export Awards, held at the National Gallery of Victoria, are the nation's premier award program for businesses engaged in international trade.
Winner of the Regional Exporter of the Year category was Tasmanian Quality Meats – a regional exporting success story which has gone from having no direct export sales in the 2011 financial year to $12 million worth of export sales in 2013.
The company’s investment in infrastructure, and a commitment to innovation, research and consultation, all played a part in its success.
Established fifteen years ago and based outside the small town of Cressy, near Launceston, Tasmanian Quality Meats has more than tripled its staff levels because of its export success and is now a major employer in the region. The company went from 20 staff to 75 in the last few years.
Tasmanian Quality Meats processes quality veal, lamb and mutton. TQM produces certified halal and HGP free chilled and frozen whole-carcase veal, as well as boxed six-way veal. A family-run business founded in 1997 by current directors Brian Oliver and John Talbot, TQM started processing Australian lamb for the domestic market in 1997.
In 2003 it built a meat processing floor providing a service kill for veal and lamb for butchers and wholesalers throughout Tasmania and mainland Australia.
Due to a growing need for a small-stock export plant in Tasmania, in 2010 work started on a new state-of-the-art processing floor, and in mid-2011 the floor was commissioned, achieving Tier 1 Export Registration in September 2011.
Recently, with the help of Meat & Livestock Australia, TQM researched rapidly growing markets in the Middle East – markets which have been traditionally difficult to access.
As a consequence, a number of products, including frozen veal, mutton, lamb and offals, are now processed in accordance with Halal requirements and are sold as Halal in markets such as Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The Australian Export Award judges commended Tasmanian Quality Meats for showing a solid understanding of different customer needs, and tailoring its products accordingly.
“The company’s change of direction to becoming a direct exporter is a major milestone, and is to be congratulated,” judges said.
Clearly a regional success story, the company was adding to local prosperity, judges said. They noted that Tasmanian Quality Meats’ emphasis on building employment was commendable, and was a ‘fantastic story’ which illustrated the benefits that exporting could bring to local communities.
Other state finalists from beef
Also represented among the state finalists in the regional exporter category was South Australia’s representative, Thomas Foods International, which processes beef and sheepmeat at its Murray Bridge and Lobethal plants for domestic and export markets.
There was also a strong meat industry contingent represented among state finalists in the National Export Awards’ Agribusiness exporter category, taken out by Tasmania’s Walnuts Australia.
Queensland’s state awards winner in the Agribusiness category representing the state in the national awards was the vertically integrated beef company, Australian Agricultural Co, while the NSW finalist was non-packer exporter, Atron Enterprises.
Overall Australian export award winner last night, collecting the Prime Minister’s award, was Victoria’s RightShip, a ship vetting company which helps exporters get their products safely from one part of the world to another. RightShip is owned equally by BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto Shipping, and Cargill Ocean Transport.
Trade and investment minister Andrew Robb said this year's finalists represent some of the best performers in Australia's $300 billion-a-year export sector.
“The Export Awards recognise their efforts and celebrate their achievements," Mr Robb said.
"These awards are an important part of the Government's overall approach to promoting exports and energising Australia's commercial engagement with Asia and the rest of the world."
This year's finalists earned more than $9 billion in export revenue in 2012 and employ more than 22,000 people.
National category winners receive a package of tailored export services from Austrade, valued at $10,000, which includes a trade adviser, free advice on selected markets, and market intelligence.
Before progressing to the 51st Australian Export Awards, the finalists must be selected as winners in their respective state and territory export awards programs.
"The finalists range from long-established companies with large operations to small family-run businesses. Some come from the traditional business precincts of major capital cities, while others this year were from regional centres," Mr Robb said.
"I congratulate the finalists and winners on their selections. They are all making a significant contribution to the Australian economy, to employment and to the communities in which they operate."
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