Farm Tender

Farmer to Food

Extracted from the Farm Tender weekly Newsletter - Sign up and get the email every Wednesday morning before 6 am.

By Dwain Duxson.

It's been a tough grind for many, probably still is, but could the paddock to plate revolution be going mainstream?

I just saw a list of the most successful paddock to plate operations (Weekley Times), many of the brand names I recognised, and I think they missed a few as well. Most of these guys have growing brand names, have their logistics half sorted and have a pretty good product. They can really only grow from here.

For all the successful ones on the list, there has been many more that have failed. Long drives and days establishing a brand at Farmers Markets has been difficult for many, and most find it too hard or not lucrative enough.

The clever use of social media has changed the game as well. You can reach truckloads of people quickly, establish a brand and start building from there. The Our Cow story is my case in point here. I think they have built a million dollar a month turnover business in something like 18 months and continue to grow rapidly.

Are we at the start of a domestic food revolution?

I remember travelling through Tassie with my wife Paula back in August last year and seeing many Farm's, mainly Dairy Farms, selling things like ice cream, milk, cheese, etc from the Farm Store located close to the road. Some were even taking it a step further and doing sit down meals. All these places were well patronised.

Every since Bega bought back Vegemite into Australian hands, we have seen the evolution of Australian Food manufacturing. The new Faba Bean and Lentil protein powder plant in Horsham, Victoria, is just one isolated case of the building sector.

Then there is also the $100/kg "Wagyu style" Lamb Cutlets sold by prominent Breeder Tom Bull's Kinross Station Lamb brand. They had them retailing in a Sydney Butcher shop at $78/kg and decided to give them a crack at $100/kg. And at the increased rate, they are still flying out the door, according to Tom.

Margin is also the key in this situation.

I may be contradicting myself here as I wrote last week in this very column. I said. "Does the food buying customer really want to know where the Wheat came from for the loaf of bread they bought? The Farmer in me says probably not, but we are going to need Wheat in 10 years time, so let's focus on that and park the fancy bits to the side for later. At least until I can see that it improves my margin".

I was making a different point on what the main game is, and it's still commodity Ag. Not many of the paddock to platers are in the commodity Ag game, and most commodity Farmers in Australia won't start a paddock to plate business.

However, I think more and more of these Farmer to Food style businesses will keep popping up as Farmers find niche markets for the products they grow.

It will be a space worth watching.

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