CANADIAN pension fund-backed Hewitt Cattle Australia has purchased two Certified Organic grazing properties, and taken a small stake – reported to be 15 percent – in organic beef supply chain Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat.
The agreement includes two properties – the 28,000ha Oakwood near Augathella in central western Queensland and Warilba, a 1700ha irrigation property near Narrandera in southern NSW.
Hewitt Cattle, backed by Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, has put together a portfolio of mostly northern Australian grazing assets at a cost of around $200 million in the past three years, most recently purchasing the Numery aggregation in Central Australia in March.
Hewitt Cattle says it now manages around 85,000 head of cattle across 600,000ha of country in Queensland, the Northern Territory and now NSW. While the company would not confirm it, this is believed to be its first venture into the Organic production space. The company would not confirm whether or not other existing properties in its portfolio would enter conversion to Certified Organic.
Chief executive Mick Hewitt said the agreement with Arcadian was testament to the long-term viability of the organic cattle industry.
“We have partnered with Arcadian because we share a commitment to this industry and are prepared to invest in it,” he said.
Arcadian described the deal as its “latest steps to continue the global expansion of its brands,” allowing the company to “focus on downstream initiatives including product development and entering new markets.”
Arcadian chief executive Alister Ferguson said there was plenty of room for growth in organic foods.
“We believe that rapid growth in the organic segment will continue, and see evidence of this in a number of ways including the ongoing strength of our Cleaver’s brand,” he said.
Arcadian’s flagship Cleaver’s brand is available in 900 Coles and Woolworths supermarkets and independent retailers. About 75pc of its production goes into international markets, including the United States, where the company has built partnerships with Wholefoods and several other retailers, and is also expanding into high growth Asian markets.
Arcadian said it would continue to use Cleaver’s to drive domestic growth and lead the brand development into global markets.
Arcadian has a network of 120 organically-certified suppliers.