JBS Australia is the largest cattle lotfeeder and beef processor in the country, with five feedlots (with a combined capacity of 162,000 head) and eleven red meat processing facilities across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
Despite having the capacity to produce enough beef to make more than 50 million Big Mac patties per day, the company remains a genuine reflection of the Australian foundation companies from which it was founded, just on a slightly larger scale.
JBS Australia as it is known today, is the result of numerous acquisitions and mergers involving the well-known companies of Australian Meat Holdings (AMH), Swift & Company, Tatiara Meat Company, Itoham/Mitsubishi, Tasman Group, Primo Smallgoods and Andrews Meat Industries since 1991.
A facet that has remained at the core of the success and growth of JBS Australia, is their commitment to grainfed beef. The Angus breed plays a significant role in that success and according to Steve Groom, JBS Australia’s Livestock Manager (Northern), it will continue to do so.
“We have an extensive relationship with the Angus breed that started with the development of our Tender Valley, Waratah and Prime Black brands that we were processing at Beef City (on the outskirts of Toowoomba on Queensland’s Darling Downs) for the Japanese market in the 1990’s,” Mr. Groom said.
Based on one of JBS Australia’s long standing Japanese Angus programs, AMH assisted Certified Australian Angus Beef (CAAB) and MAC (the buying arm for McDonald’s at the time) develop the MacAngus standard which is rigorously applied to all Angus beef that is supplied to McDondald’s for their burgers.
Mr. Groom said the appeal for Angus was in the class leading feedlot performance, regular supply base and finished carcase attributes that enabled increased cut utilisation to garner maximum revenue from each body.
“There aren’t many breeds that allow you to command a premium for even the trim,” Steve said.
This extra revenue is where the price premiums for Angus feeder cattle come from.
“The success of the Angus breed is testament to the commitment of the producer base and the breed society to aim for continual genetic improvement and market the breed as a ‘brand’ throughout the supply chain,” said Steve.
To support JBS Australia’s feedlots and grainfed beef programs, they would buy more than 85,000 Angus cattle to induct into their feedlots every year.
Each of their five feedlots rely very heavily on the support of the Angus breed due to their proven performance, and the customer and consumer demand for the high-quality beef and beef products they yield, from all over the world.
“Without a doubt, the Angus breed would be one of the cornerstones of the entire JBS Australia business,” Steve said
Angus cattle also form a large supply base for JBS Australia’s southern grassfed brand, Great Southern.
JBS Australia has been on a very public journey of transition in the last five years, changing its business model from a supplier of grainfed full sets (carcasses) to Japan and commodity beef processor, to a world recognised branded beef marketer.
There will always be an element of buying grassfed cattle from northern Australia to support the ‘volume’ business that is still a very important part of JBS Australia’s company and the Australian industry, but nowadays they are placing an increased emphasis on developing market driven brand programs that enable them to be more competitive in the procurement of livestock.
Of the Angus cattle inducted by JBS Australia each year, about one third are for long fed (200+ days) beef programs that support retail and food service channels around the world and half are for the award-winning Riverina Angus brand.
The balance of the Angus feeders are fed and processed to sustain the company’s MSA brands and class-leading EU program.
JBS Australia export their Angus beef all over the world, but without doubt the volume players are Japan and Korea.
However, the domestic market is tremendously important to JBS Australia from a carcase utilisation perspective.
They have emerging markets that are taking relatively low volumes of product but are prepared to pay significant premiums for the eating quality their brands deliver the high-end foodservice market in places like Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
“The fact we have been able to take our Riverina Angus brand into these markets and compete well against other packers that have dominated these markets for a long time is evidence that our supply base is delivering us outstanding and consistent meat quality that the most discerning of restauranteurs are happy to rely on,” Mr. Groom said.
The proof has been in the pudding also, with Riverina Angus claiming numerous medal and champion awards at branded beef competitions since its launch in 2012.
After a string of gold and silver medals in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in 2013 and 2014, the brand’s crowning moments include Champion Beef of Show at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show in 2015 and taking the top prize for all MSA graded beef at the 2017 Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show earlier this year.
These awards recognise the tireless efforts of countless people throughout the supply chain to get it right each and every time.
“Of course, our livestock procurement, lotfeeding, processing, sales, marketing and logistics teams should be proud of these achievements, but it should go without saying that we could not have achieved these results without the exceptional efforts of our valued livestock producers across the country” Steve said.
JBS Australia’s livestock buyers across Australia maintained ‘farm gate’ relationships with cattle producers to source the most suitable livestock to fit into the company’s many brand programs.
“We truly see this as a partnership. We share critical beef demand information with our suppliers to ensure they are well informed and better positioned to maximise their on-farm revenue by aligning with our branded programs. At the end of the day, if it wasn’t for the farmers, our feedlots and abattoirs would be nothing more than a large set of empty cattle yards and big sheds,” said Steve.
“You can’t buy consistency out of saleyards, so our buyers spend a huge amount of time forming personal relationships with farmers throughout the prime Angus cattle producing areas and sharing information to ensure from the time producers are making decisions about the genetics and stocking rates they are 100% aligned with the end users demands,” he said.
Pictured - Steve Groom Livestock Manager Northern at JBS Australia Beef City Feedlot