Organic beef producer and marketer Warren Pensini’s philosophy is to produce natural, sustainable and healthy red meat on pasture. He is convinced consumers are realising the benefits of this approach.
The Australian Certified Organic producer, who will be presenting at the Southern WA Meat Profit Day on 28th August, recently visited the US and saw first-hand a noticeable shift back to production of grassfed meats.
In the cattle sector, this is being driven by a greater awareness and appreciation for how animals are treated in the paddock, meat eating quality and research findings that grassfed beef has elevated levels of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids and the potentially cancer-fighting Conjugated Linoleic Acid.
Warren, who is the fourth generation of Pensinis to raise cattle in WA since 1920, expects the same factors will lift demand for Australian grassfed beef. He currently produces 500–600 head a year for his Blackwood Valley Beef branded products.
He had been running up to 600 head of breeders until last year, when the business focus changed to finishing cattle backgrounded on ‘Kanandah station’ on the Nullarbor. Kanandah supplies Blackwood Valley Beef with predominantly Murray Grey organically produced steers.
How important is it to know what your customer wants?
“It is vital to supply what your market requires and to know there is demand for your product. Our brand, Blackwood Valley Beef, started with word-of-mouth deliveries of 20kg meat packs around metropolitan Perth. Now we sell a range of shelf-ready portion packs to retailers and whole cuts to top-end Perth restaurants.
“We use several processors and adhere to the MSA grading system to ensure a consistent meat eating quality for our buyers.”
What are the major opportunities to build better beef businesses in WA?
“I would like to see a beef industry that is truly ‘clean and green’ using practices we employ, such as holistic management, controlled grazing and sustainably produced fertilisers. There are premiums for organic meat, but ultimately profits in any business will be driven by the way it is run, costs of production and level of sustainability.”
What are the major challenges to a productive and profitable beef industry in WA?
“High processing, transport and labour costs, government regulations, lower volumes of cattle, lack of processor choice and distances to market are major barriers and set us apart from other states. My ideal model would be direct sales from farm to consumer, but that is a long way off.”
Warren Pensini will be speaking at the Southern WA Meat Profit Day on 28th August about the importance of focusing on every aspect of beef production , from soil to stomach.
He will share his experiences gained during the first few years of direct marketing, how production has evolved on and off-farm, and how the model will look in the future.
To view the full program and register for the Southern WA Meat Profit Day, click here
- This article originally appeared in Meat & Livestock Australia's Feedback magazine