Vale Richie Goldup

Jon Condon, 21/06/2023

PROMINENT beef processing industry identity Richie Goldup, an innovator and early pioneer in livestock supplier payments made on carcase description, has passed away in Mackay this week, aged 85.

Mr Goldup forged a significant career in the Queensland processing industry, making a number of progressive contributions to the red meat industry’s progress.

Richie Goldup

He started work straight out of school at the local Thomas Borthwicks & Sons Merinda abattoir in his home-town of Bowen, North Queensland, in 1954. When he started work, the plant processed bone-in, frozen beef from about 400 head a day, plus smallstock.

Identified as having potential, he was sent to Borthwicks’ Melbourne office as a trainee, studied accounting by correspondence, and much later in his career, international marketing and industrial relations at London Business School.

Borthwicks had six plants in Australia at the time, plagued by industrial trouble in the 1960s and 70s. Richie’s assessment was that if they concentrated on the English processing firms like Borthwicks, better conditions would flow to other packers eventually.

In 1960 he became office manager at Borthwicks, taking over management of the company’s extensive Queensland wholesale/retail business, shipping and exports in 1966. The first chilled beef shipment from Bowen to Japan was made in 1971.

In 1973 he moved back to Borthwicks head office in Melbourne, responsible for hides, meatmeal and tallow from all the company’s Australian plants, opening up markets in Japan, Korea, China, the US and Europe.

In 1974 he became plant manager – the company’s youngest ever in Australia – at Borthwicks’ Mackay abattoir – the ‘big brother’ to the Bowen plant further north. The company spent millions upgrading cold stores, boning room and carcase chillers, doubling throughput.

Dawn of grading systems

The Borthwicks plants all used their own crude carcase grading system, but Richie supported producer calls for carcase classification based on objective measurement, because it would give the industry a language to work with. This view was not popular with some other processors at the time.

Richie worked with producers and the Cattlemens Union – at the time a powerful industry lobby in Queensland – to build supply chain relationships. He encouraged producers to see their cattle killed in the plant so they better understood pricing and could respond to issues like bruising, which delivered big savings.

Encouraged by Queensland Meat Authority (later AusMeat) CEO John Hall, Borthwicks Mackay became one of the first plants (after trail-blazer Blue Ribbon Meats in Tasmania) to instigate producer payments based on carcase classification measurements – sex, hot carcase weight, fat cover and dentition. This was a revolutionary concept at the time, and similar programs followed at Townsville and Lakes Creek. Field days on the subject attracted cattlemen from throughout Australia.

“I felt we were all in the business together, so I was always encouraging a more consistent line of cattle that better met market requirements,” Richie said in an interview.

“Carcase feedback made cattle producers focus on what was under the hide, and turn off younger cattle. If classification did anything, it showed the producers that the market discounted too much fat.”

The government controlled carcase classification later morphed into today’s industry-controlled AusMeat – the Australian Uniform Standard for meat and livestock description.

Three generations of Borthwicks Bowen plant managers, Richie Goldup, centre, Graham Dear, right, and Kevin Markey. Click on image for a larger view

Whispers about a processor super-merger

In the 1980s Richie became Queensland manager for Borthwicks, and amid a period of tight livestock supply, the first whispers about a ‘super merger’ of processors started – later to evolve in 1986 into Australia Meat Holdings.

Borthwicks was originally part of the dialogue, but the AMH syndicate was forced to offload the Borthwicks plants due to concerns over regional competition.

Bowen and Mackay were ultimately sold to a joint venture involving Mackay Sugar and Nippon Meat Packers in 1990, while Borthwicks Portland went to AMH, and Brooklyn and Morton closed or sold. Nippon (today operating as NH Foods) in 1994 bought out Mackay Sugar’s share.

Richie retired as general manager of the business in 1995, after 41 years with the company.

After his retirement, he continued his close relationship with the Queensland and Australian red meat industry, becoming Queensland chair of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council around 1990. He also chaired the Queensland Livestock and Meat Authority – a state government directed body that carried out significant meat and livestock research, market reporting (in the era long before the National Livestock Reporting Service), and ran a network of six public service abattoirs across the state.

He also chaired the producer-backed, but ultimately unsuccessful Valley Beef and Beeflands Group processing business established at Coominya, west of Brisbane.

He also served for lengthy periods on the Australian Meat Council and Australian Meat & Livestock Research and Development Corporation

During the early AMH era he provided a steady hand in managing the business, at the time that other senior management was engaged in the Federal Court, tackling the move away from the restrictive tally system of meatworker employment.

In an era when many meat processors would treat agricultural journalists with utter disdain, Richie Goldup was generous with his time, opinions and ideas, in trying to build better understanding and relationships between processors and beef producers.


A funeral service will be held at 1pm on Thursday, 29 June at St Charles Anglican Church, West Mackay.
















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  1. douglas hurst, 29/06/2023

    Richie was certainly pioneering in the concept of “Over the Hooks” trading , from the fact of bringing farmers to the carcass scales to view their dressed animals during the 1960’s /70’s ; as I witnessed at Borthwicks Brooklyn Plant . The policy of welcomed farmer visit(s) gave them confidence in Borthwicks & engendered continuity of sales to the company , giving Borthwicks their premium reputation particularly the Chilled Beef industry .
    Richie certainly had the vision .
    The times I met Richie , he was very inspiring in his wisdom , ideas , policies & diplomacy .
    In public speaking , Richie was motivational & noteworthy in his subjects of discussion & was one that controlled your full attention .
    Richie is a loss to the Meat Industry
    R I P Richie

  2. Kevin Markey, 23/06/2023

    Jon has done a great job outlining Richie’s many contributions to our industry. I was privileged to see and work with Ritchie. If you can have a professional father figure, Ritchie was mine. He lead, guided, & encouraged a very young plant manager during my time in Bowen (1984 – 1990). As an indicator of the respect Richie received across the industry, I can remember standing beside him at the Cloncurry Show and there was a steady stream of producers stopping and talking to Richie. We have lost a great man but his legacy will live on in our industry.

    • John Salter, 09/07/2023

      I had the pleasure of representing Borthwicks in the industrial relations commission on a few occasions and Richie was the company rep from whom I took instructions. Even in the most hostile of IR environments, Richie always kept his cool and retained a wealth of knowledge he was only to pleased to share with quiet aplomb- a somewhat different approach to IR than others within the industry at that time!!. A great loss indeed.

    • Michael Grogan, 26/06/2023

      Where of where did he dig that picture up? Well written Kevin. He was a great figure of a man with terrific strength and character and vision.
      Sorry I cannot make it to his farewell.

  3. David Hill, 23/06/2023

    This week saw the running of the annual Mackay Show, which includes what is said to be one of the longest running carcase competitions in Australia. The champion carcase was from a grassfed animal with an MSA index over 66, with many winners in the grassfed section attaining MSA indexes over 64. Whilst I was to young to have personally known Richie Goldup, I knew who he was and was aware of how highly regarded he was.
    Quite often whilst we are concentrating on our frustrations with this industry we lose site of the contributions of those visionaries who were prepared to challenge the consensus of the day. Considering the continued emphasis on objective carcase clarification today it is hard to understand there was a time when it was unpopular.
    It will be interesting to see what becomes of the challenge of pursuing a positive outcome from what might generally be considered an unpopular direction in the present day. The challenges are many, but the importance of tackling them head on with foresight and conviction have never been more important.
    Rest In Peace Richie Goldup, and may the memory of your courage and conviction inspire the current generation to challenge the populist view even if it comes with a level of unpopularity, because the importance has never been greater!

  4. Renata Paliskis, 22/06/2023

    These days we take systems such as Meat Standards Australia, producer feedback and “gate to plate” competitions as the “norm”. Please take a minute to appreciate very early innovators such as Richie Goldup: a legend, a standout. We can learn so much from why and how he pushed and what he achieved.

    • Michael Grogan, 26/06/2023

      Well written Renata, I remember the annual show and all the producers that would come to the plant to see the carcass display and then join the crew to listen to the Richie ” this is the year to come outlook talk” and they would hang off every word.
      Hope your well.
      KR Michael Grogan

  5. Phil Cook, 22/06/2023

    Agree with your comments, Jon. Richie was a good man who looked for a win-win. RIP Richie Goldup.

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