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Providing greater integrity over beef brand’s claims over sustainability

by Jon Condon, 26 July 2017

Alistair and Lachlan Hughes from Rangelands Quality Meats with AgForce president Grant Maudsley, left, at yesterday’s launch.

 

PUTTING some substance and integrity behind beef brand claims in areas like environmental management and sustainability was the theme behind a Queensland beef supply chain’s adoption of the Grazing Best Management Practices program at a launch in Brisbane yesterday.

Queensland paddock-to-plate beef business, Rangelands Quality Meats is showcasing the benefits of adopting the Grazing BMP program to improve its productivity and demonstrate its environmental credentials to consumers.

Beef Central profiled Phillip and Adele Hughes and family’s vertically-integrated beef supply chain and brand program in this earlier article.

The Hughes’s Rangeland Quality Meats business joined with AgForce Queensland and industry representatives to celebrate the accreditation of their central and southern Queensland grazing properties through a partnership with Grazing BMP.

Their son Lachlan, director of Banchory Grazing and Rangeland Quality Meats, said Grazing BMP had allowed his family’s business to examine every aspect of its operations to improve practices on the ground and deliver the best possible product for the consumer.

“Being a part of the BMP process has allowed us to have better land management and better animal management, and to understand where we fit in the supply chain,” he said.

“It’s encouraged us to measure what we’re doing and we’re using technology on farm to assist us to determine when to rotate our cattle through the paddock, predict long term carrying capacities and plan into the future.

“I see Grazing BMP as a way of getting on the front foot. Consumers are more educated and want to know where their food is coming from and I think that’s a great thing because we’re able to show them what we are doing on farm and that we do it to a very high standard.

“It provides us with an international certification that we can stand behind and it really provides evidence across industry that collectively, we are doing things well.”

“BMP is a big part of what we do. From paddock to plate, it gives us the confidence that if we follow the process – biosecurity and environmental – we know that we can stand by what we put on consumers’ plates, in saying it is what we say it is.”

Phillip and Adele Hughes with sons Lachlan and Alistair, Banchory manager Jim Lomas and AgForce president Grant Maudsley at yesterday’s ceremony

Lachlan’s brother Alastair, who directs meat sales operations for Rangelands Quality Meats, said as a business, BMP provided the confidence to be able to stand behind the business’s branded product, in the face of increased public pressure and scrutiny coming from customers, both at retail and food service level.

“People want to see and know more about the product they buy, and be sure that what they’re paying for is what they’re getting. BMP helps us identify areas for continual improvement, along with management processes, and areas where we can do more. We need to be in touch with the consumer, and what they want,” he said.

“Grazing BMP allows us to sell beef that ticks all the boxes in relation to quality and high standards – especially in environmentally responsible and ethical beef production, which is becoming front-of-mind with more consumers.”

“To be able to tick these boxes, and to guarantee the consumer that we are delivering what we say we are delivering, gives a retailer of restaurant operator the ability sell a quality product that guarantees that to the customer, and potentially at a better margin,” he said.

Mr Hughes said adopting BMP was a ‘big step’ for the family’s business. “We first started talking with Agforce two years ago about this process. We um’d and ah’d for a couple of months – I could see the obvious benefits in the meat sales side, and Lachlan and our team at the production level could see the hard work in embracing the process. But it’s the only way forward, in our opinion.”

AgForce keen to add momentum to program

AgForce president Grant Maudsley spoke at yesterday’s ceremony, saying BMP’s slogan, “Setting the standard in environmental and ethical beef production,” summarised the program’s mission.

“When I came into the AgForce presidency some years ago, being able to back up sustainability claims was one of the missing pieces of the puzzle, and for this reason BMP is going to help us, moving forward, as an industry. I certainly believe we are on track with it,” he said.

“AgForce is keen to start rolling this program out, further and further. It has come into AgForce’s list of priorities that we want to drive hard in the future, to verify that what we do as an industry is actually credible.”

“BMP is going to be a really important, positive story to tell. It’s really important to get this right.”

Other beef supply chains engaging with BMP

A number of other beef supply chains were also present at yesterday’s event, each either adopting, or considering adoption of Grazing BMP as the foundation for their brand claims surrounding sustainable land and cattle management.

The chairman of the Northern Cooperative Meat Co at Casino, John Seccombe, said NCMC had launched a pilot program 12 months ago involving about 70 local beef producers, looking at how Grazing BMP could be integrated into the northern rivers region.

“It’s the first time it’s come out of Queensland, so we are interested as to how it might apply in our area. The trial has been well-supported be regional councils, MLA, TAFE and others,” he said.

Mr Seccombe said at this stage the interest was not driven by integration into a brand program, but for producers themselves interested in industry best practice in sustainable production systems, and improving efficiency and profitability. Brand adoption might come later, he said.

He said one of the points picked up by NCMC during recent trade missions into China was how Australia might prove its ‘clean and green’ status, considered so important in the Chinese beef market.

“Grazing BMP provides a great vehicle to deliver that,” he said. “This program can be very important in export, as well as domestic trade.”

Also present yesterday were Darlene Wray from OBE Organic, which is already adopting Grazing BMP into the certified Organic brand program, and Stanbroke Beef, which is sizing-up prospects to adopt Grazing BMP into its beef brand programs. Stanbroke’s current focus is on its leased backgrounding country.

AgForce BMP manager Steve Lacey said there were now more than 1800 producers across Queensland managing more than 28 million hectares of land who had adopted Grazing BMP to benchmark their business against the best industry standards using the best available science.

“In recent years, how we farm has been dictated by others, when we would much rather use a voluntary system that works for us with Grazing BMP allowing us to do just that,” he said.

“Grazing BMP is designed to assist producers to improve their long term productivity, profitability and sustainability in the areas of grazing land management, soil health, animal health and welfare, animal production, and people and business. It’s good for your land, it’s good for your business and it’s good for the environment.”

 

 



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