Former meat processor and beef industry identity, David Larkin, has taken over as head of Gina Rinehart’s agricultural interests.
Mr Larkin this week begins work as chief executive officer of the Rinehart mining and pastoral empire’s agricultural businesses.
He is a former chairman of the Australian Meat Industry Council and founder of branded beef business, Atron Enterprises.
The Melbourne and northern NSW-based Atron processed about 3000 cattle a week at plants in Casino in NSW, and Grantham and Caboolture in Queensland, before being sold to South Australia’s Thomas Foods International last year, where Mr Larkin joined TFI’s executive team.
Atron’s notable beef brands included Condabri, Spring Grove, Premi-Yum Black and The Station.
Mr Larkin’s “meatrepreneur” marketing experience is likely to be a critical factor guiding the development of Hancock Beef’s own domestic and export brands, including the Kidman and 2GR labels.
I’m looking forward to working on delivering Gina Rinehart's vision for Hancock Beef and S. Kidman and Company
He was excited by the “outstanding opportunity” to work with someone as dedicated and enthusiastic about the cattle industry and as committed to investing and growing the industry as Mrs Rinehart.
“I’m looking forward to working on delivering her vision for Hancock Beef and S. Kidman and Company so they become a cutting edge, industry-leading beef business in Australia,” he said.
Her combined cattle interests make Mrs Rinehart Australia’s third biggest beef producer.
Mrs Rinehart said given agriculture ranked as Australia's second largest export industry, earning $48 billion dollars annually and employing 1.6 million people (directly and indirectly), it was important the sector listened to its customers, invested in technology and thrived.
Hancock Prospecting CEO, Garry Korte, noted Mr Larkin’s significant beef processing industry experience, including building brands and distribution networks, was consistent with the strategy and direction Hancock Beef was pursuing.
As part of its development in various beef production areas and markets, Hancock wants to build an integrated paddock to plate supply chain.
In his new role Mr Larkin will also act as CEO of the big 101,000 square kilometre S. Kidman and Company operation, bought by Hancock Prospecting late last year in a $365 million joint venture deal with 33pc China-based partner, Shanghai Cred.
In May Kidman’s long-time boss, Greg Campbell, announced his plans to retire when a new appointee settled into the job.
He has worked for the business’ former Kidman family owners since 1993.
Mr Korte said Hancock was expanding all aspects of its beef activities.
“We are working on building new long term sustainable markets as our northern herd increases,” he said.
Hancock’s northern station cattle herds had a high Brahman content, relying on live export markets for their continued existence.
The bigger component of the Rinehart cattle business is based on other cattle breeds in the Hancock and Kidman portfolio, including Wagyu herds in NSW and Queensland.
Mr Larkin, named as 2015 Red Meat Achiever at the Queensland Country Life-Rabobank Beef Industry Awards, has held a number of industry leadership positions.
He also contributed to policy recommendations on behalf of the industry to the Minister for Trade and Industry, Andrew Robb, during the free trade agreements negotiations with China, Japan and Korea.