Harvey Beef promises direct feedback

BEEF producers can look forward to direct feedback about market requirements with the new look Harvey Beef.

As its new general manager, Wayne Shaw, settles into the role he says a key focus for the processor is to provide more information to producers to “optimise their returns from the supply chain”.

Mr Shaw took on the role as head of WA’s biggest beef processor in November and said work is being done to lift productivity at the plant.

“We have a new management team in place, who are working to improve many aspects of the business including safety, productivity, branding and facilities,” Mr Shaw said.

“We are developing plans to upgrade much of the plant in order to remove bottlenecks, improve ergonomics, improve productivity as well as facilitating the production of new products to meet the demands of our domestic and export customers.

“Harvey Beef is a great plant. We already have a good foundation and are working to steadily improve the business across the board.”

Mr Shaw may not be a familiar face in WA, but he has an extensive background in agriculture.

He was raised on a small farm in Manawatu, on New Zealand’s North Island, and said he was interested in primary industries and meat processing from a young age.

He worked at one of New Zealand’s largest meat processors and exporters.

“I was sheepmeats and venison operations manager at Silver Fern Farms Limited,” Mr Shaw said.

“I was in this role, or variations of it, for the past seven years. Prior to that, I was the plant manager of Silver Fern Farms Finegand, which is a large sheep and beef processing plant in Otago.

“I started my career with Silver Fern Farms, then PPCS Limited, in the technical area and worked for them for 23 years.”

Mr Shaw said he was keen for a new challenge when applying for the Harvey Beef job.

“I was excited by the prospect of working for a progressive company that seeks to improve their business and the wider beef industry in WA,” Mr Shaw said.

“In the process of investigating the role, I learnt about the great work being done by Minderoo and the Forrest family and was excited by the prospect of being part of that.”

Having settled into the position, Mr Shaw said Harvey Beef was changing all aspects of its operations.

He said the company recognised the key role that producers played in the supply chain and is investigating how they can enhance communication and interaction with their suppliers.

Mr Shaw said entrepreneur Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Minderoo Group is committed to seeing better communication with producers and for Harvey Beef to play a leading role in improving returns across the supply chain.

He said it is working towards that goal.

“We want to provide enhanced and consistent returns, ensuring that suppliers get the information they need from us to optimise their returns from the supply chain,” he said.

“Producers are asking for improved feedback and we are working to deliver that.

“We are developing new ways to deliver killsheet data and changes in this area will be seen over the next couple of months.

“Our livestock team is working hard to ensure suppliers know the types of cattle we require for our various customers.”

Harvey Beef recently gained access to what Mr Shaw described as a strong developing market in Malaysia.

“We believe it has good growth potential,” he said.

“Our key markets include China, Indonesia, the United States and Canada.

“WA is ideally placed for supplying Asia and Harvey Beef is focused in this area.

“However, we are not limited by distance and are able to compete in more distant markets such as the US and Canada.

“Efficient freight systems means the distance between WA and worldwide markets is not the barrier that it once was.”

While this is good news, WA’s cattle herd numbers are low and producers need confidence and sustainable returns to rebuild them.

Mr Shaw said sustainable returns to producers over the long term would lead to producers building up numbers.

He said ensuring an efficient processing operation and proactively seeking out the best returning markets was a primary focus.

“Predicting meat prices is difficult over the short term, however we do believe that the long-term trend is a positive one,” he said.

“We have a growing middle class across much of the world that is demanding high quality and safe food from reputable and sustainable producers.

“We believe that Harvey Beef and our producers are in a great position to benefit from that trend.

“In the short term, prices are being affected by supply factors in Australia and the US, which are likely to see prices above the long term trend for some time yet.”