A NEW Wagyu brand program, and refreshed identities for a suite of existing brands are part of the unfolding expansion of Kilcoy Pastoral Co, Australia’s largest dedicated grainfed beef processor.
As Beef Central outlined in this earlier article, Kilcoy Pastoral Co is evolving into a global supply chain under the name, Kilcoy Global Foods, with recent major investments in value-adding and distribution in the US and China. The company’s suite of new and upgraded grainfed beef brands are aligned with that progress.
The new programs and identities were unveiled for the first time at last week’s Food & Hotel Singapore exhibition, one of Asia’s largest trade shows. The Singapore launch also included value-added beef products generated by Kilcoy Global Foods’ US and Chinese affiliates, Ruprecht and Weidao. Other international market launches will follow.
Particularly in customer regions like southeast Asia, the new brand initiatives – especially in the Wagyu area – are expected to open-up a customer base that Kilcoy may have not traditionally done much business with.
The company stresses that the brand developments outlined in this article are not about shifting focus from KPC’s flagship Golden Jubilee grainfed offering, sold into more than 30 countries worldwide, but to enhance customer value by offering a wider range of eating experience attributes, and subsequently, price points.
The KPC strategy is clearly aligned with the theme of avoiding ‘commoditisation’ of generic grainfed beef, by adding additional attributes, as discussed in this earlier Beef Central article.
Underpinning brand developments is a major expansion and upgrade which has taken place at the Kilcoy Pastoral Co beef processing plant in southeast Queensland, to be outlined in a separate story in coming weeks.
Driving Kilcoy’s beef brand development work is Fearn Cholerton, appointed Chief Sales and Marketing Officer last October (see Beef Central’s earlier references to his appointment here).
Mr Cholerton, pictured, will have responsibility for Kilcoy Global Foods export and domestic beef sales out of Australia, as well as overseeing the company’s new KPC North America and KPC China chilled and frozen sales operations. He will also drive the global synergies between Kilcoy’s Australian (KPC Australia), US (Ruprecht Company / KPC USA) and Chinese (Weihai Weidao Food / KPC China) sales teams.
Here’s a brief outline of what’s in store in Kilcoy’s recent brand developments:
Carrara 640 Wagyu
Headlining Kilcoy’s brand developments is a brand new Wagyu program. Kilcoy has not previously processed Wagyu or Wagyu-infused cattle, marking a significant step in the company’s 65 year history, in positioning an elite product at the top of its beef offering.
The brand name chosen is Carrara 640 Wagyu, a reference combining the world’s most expensive and exclusive marble from Italy, and the Kilcoy plant’s AusMeat establishment number. The reference to the plant establishment number is designed to align with the high degree of ‘processing asset ownership’ and ‘supply chain relationships’ driving the new brand.
“Kilcoy’s brand claims are not around owning the entire supply chain, including feedlots – they’re about collaboratively working with high-performing specialist lotfeeders who are experts in their field, and who understand the role we all play in the value chain, in delivering assured, consistent supply of safe, quality beef with high integrity,” Mr Cholerton said.
“By owning processing assets, we ensure end users can have confidence in commercial arrangements and supply security,” he said.
“Not owning feedlots allows us to be selective from whom we source livestock, and ensures any animal processed at KPC passes our strict requirements,” he said.
Supply to the new Carrara 640 Wagyu program will be under a ‘closed supply’ basis, using a limited number of dedicated commercial yards, deeply experienced in Japanese style Wagyu feeding programs.
Genetics-wise, the program will be supported by Fullblood Wagyu bulls registered with the Australian Wagyu Association, used either over a British dam (Angus or Shorthorn) to produce an F1, or over F1 dams (50pc Wagyu, 50pc Angus), to produce F2 feeders.
This process is seen by Kilcoy as a point of difference over other Wagyu F1 programs in the industry.
First intake Wagyu cattle have been on feed for the past year, and will be processed this month. Initially the 350-400 day program will involve around 150 head per week, but will grow over time.
Preliminary trials suggest marbling in a range from 5-9, but with a good proportion in the score 8-9 range, with average carcase weights 400-450kg.
A special domestic market project within the Carrara 640 Wagyu brand is under development. Expect an announcement on that later this year.
Ebony Black Angus
An HGP-free minimum 75pc Angus (F2) genetics program launched 18 months ago, Ebony is a 100-day program, which Kilcoy says is performing ‘exceptionally well,’ consistently delivering marbling scores 3-4, and at times up to 6s.
Another significant and growing part of the Kilcoy beef business is Kilcoy Pure, an HGP-free 100-day grainfed brand program (non-breed specific) which has also undergone a recent brand identity refresh.
It was launched about two years ago. China is a primary market for Kilcoy Pure, where the product carries some unique branding characteristics designed to capture marbling score segregation. The Kilcoy plant now typically devotes one day’s processing operations each week to HGP-free cattle for both Ebony and Kilcoy Pure programs. Both brands are primarily directed into export, but are also gaining traction in the domestic market, primarily the restaurant and hotel trade.
Mr Cholerton said further brand development work was being carried out on establishing sub-set brands within the new suite of labels, based on marbling ranges. “It’s just about collecting the data,” he said.
As part of the new brands launch, Kilcoy will also update and refresh its universally-known ‘Golden Jubilee’ 100-day grainfed brand, which is the company’s best known and largest volume export label.
Extension, rather than shifting focus
Mr Cholerton said Kilcoy’s latest brand developments were certainly not about shifting its focus from its flagship offering, which remains quality, well-marbled 100-day grainfed beef.
“That will remain the backbone of KPC, driving great efficiencies through the processing business. But within the grainfed space, there are still a lot of areas that this business has not touched on, to this point. It’s about driving value for customers by offering varying eating experiences, attributes and price points that they can have confidence in.”
At its heart, Kilcoy’s brand program is based on the strength of collaboration along the supply chain, rather than any need to vertically integrate to buy lotfeeding or other assets.
“It’s about being a solutions provider, and showcasing a portfolio of products that drives confidence within end-users around Kilcoy’s ability to provide a range of offerings,” Mr Cholerton said.
He believes that in some key markets, over time, the ‘genetic story’ behind an animal, and what diet it has received during its finishing stage, will become superseded in some brands.
“As an industry, our role is to provide a consistent eating experience, at a price-point. How we do that is our job: we know what genetics we need and how long an animal needs to be fed to provide that eating experience, with consistency. But does the consumer really want to know about days on feed? Consumer decision-making comes down to two things: eating experience, or perceived health benefit.”
- Kilcoy will showcase its new brands during Beef 2018 in Rockhampton next week, hosting a dinner featuring world famous Japanese Iron Chef Hirai and MLA executive Chef Sam Burke, using a selection of cuts from KPC’s suite of brands. Unfortunately all tables for the event are now sold out.
- Beef Central will cover the recent major Kilcoy plant upgrade in a separate story, to appear after commitments at Beef 2018 in Rockhampton are completed.