The conclusion to a three-year, multi-million dollar site upgrade at Queensland’s Kilcoy Pastoral Company meatworks has coincided with a corporate restructure bringing the company’s two foreign sister businesses under Kilcoy’s management umbrella.
This week also marks Kilcoy Pastoral’s rebadging as Kilcoy Global Foods.
The southern Queensland grainfed beef abattoir has been integrated with its US and Chinese food processing allies – the Ruprecht Company business in Chicago, and Weidao Food Company in Shandong Province.
Both have been acquired by Kilcoy’s parent company, Hosen Capital, since 2015.
Ruprecht is reputedly the US’s oldest surviving meat processor, now focused on supplying portion cuts to retailers and value adding red and white meats as pre-cooked, heat-and-serve meals for supermarkets and quick service restaurants.
Ready-made meal solutions represent a global trend
Hosen invested about $32m expanding its cooked meal operations during the past two years and is on the lookout for more similar “complementary assets”, including potential Australian acquisitions.
“I think ready-made meal solutions represent a global trend,” said Kilcoy chief executive officer, Dean Goode, who now leads the restructured business across all three countries.
“People want to eat healthy, safe food products, and convenient portion-controlled meals are an increasingly popular part of that offering in the US, Europe, Asia, and in Australian supermarkets.”
“Fresh, safe and healthy are very much our core mantra at Kilcoy.”
Combined, China’s Weidao and the US$200m a year turnover Chicago business (also Kilcoy abattoir’s biggest North American customer) absorb about 30 per cent of the Queensland plant’s expanding export sales.
Kilcoy exports up to 90pc of the beef it processes.
Big upgrade effort
Thanks to a capital injection from Hosen, the plant, just north of Brisbane, now has capacity of about 1200 head a day – up from about 750 in 2015.
Its workforce has also grown from about 790 to 1240.
Beijing-based Hosen Capital has food and agribusiness investments worldwide, managing funds for various international investor groups including cornerstone supporter, China’s big New Hope agri-food group.
Hosen bought Kilcoy Pastoral Company in late 2013 from the Singapore-based Harmony Group which had shared ownership with the then debt-burdened Elders group – a keen seller at the time.
In 65 years the modest local butchery service plant has grown to be Australia’s fourth biggest beef processor, exporting to 20 countries from the Middle East to Japan and South East Asia.
It buys only 100-day grain-fed cattle from as many as 75 feedlots in NSW and Queensland, about 10 of which supply two thirds of its needs.
Taking Kilcoy’s name global
“We’ll continue to pay homage to the Kilcoy Pastoral Company brand, and we’re very proud to be taking Kilcoy’s name to a new level in overseas markets,” Mr Goode said.
Under Hosen the new business model would use the fully modernised Australian processing works to supply Kilcoy Global Foods’ expanding value added ventures overseas.
In Chicago and Shanghai Kilcoy also operates meat import and distribution businesses for its conventional meat markets.
We can be processing Australia’s best beef, sourcing salmon from Alaska, perfecting an Angus burger, or cooking a meal kit for our global customers.
However, the company’s own priorities were moving away from the commodity sector, Mr Goode said.
“The analogy we like to use is our local operation being the oil well and our overseas sites are our refineries,” he said.
The Kilcoy supply chain would benefit from the superior food product research and development capabilities it had in China and the US.
“Our strategic direction focuses on quality, innovation and adapting to market needs every step of the food journey,” he said.
“We can be processing Australia’s best beef, sourcing salmon from Alaska, perfecting an Angus burger, or cooking a meal kit for our global customers.”
In China the Weidao Food Company, based in the northern coastal city of Weihai, produces frozen protein products, including beef, pork, cod, shrimp and other high-end lines.
In the US, Kilcoy’s beef is prepared in a range of formats including sous vide (vacuum cooked) lines, roasts, casseroles, meatloaf and curries for retailers ranging from delicatessens to Costco and Trader Joe’s, and the big Tony Roma quick service restaurant chain.
About 15pc of the Kilcoy meatworks’ output sells within Australia, including retail-ready cuts under the Kilcoy Pure, Ebony Black Angus, Golden Jubilee, and Kilcoy Blue Diamond brands.
“We will harness the strengths of each of our business units to establish a value-added network of protein producers, processors and suppliers,” Mr Goode said.
“This international network is now uniquely positioned to add value at each stage of the food journey.”
- Does this article interest you? Scroll down to the comments section and start the conversation. You only need to sign up once and create a profile in the Disqus comment management system for permanent access to all discussions.