CMG optimistic about future demand for WA sheep meat

Sheep Central, May 19, 2023

The Western Australia-based company producing Amelia Park Lamb is confident of the industry’s future.

WESTERN Australian-based food and agribusiness company Craig Mostyn Group is concerned about the impact discussions on phasing out live sheep exports will have on the industry.

But as the group this week celebrated 100 years of successful business, CMG chief executive officer Wayne Crofts said CMG remained optimistic about the increasing demand for Western Australian lamb and mutton, given its quality and proximity to key markets.

“We do; however, acknowledge the current challenges facing markets as they recover from COVID shutdowns.”

Mr Crofts said the group believed any intervention to an industry or natural free market dynamics will disrupt demand and supply “and thus we do have some concerns about the impact discussions to phase out the live sheep industry will have on supply.”

“However, live sheep exports have not impacted our market development historically, and we have relationships with growers and have plans to increase our ability to process lamb in WA into formats that our markets require around the world,” he said.

“We are mid-way through a $40M expansion in Bunbury that will give us greater export capacity, and are developing plans to expand processing.”

Craig Mostyn Group is the name behind Linley Valley Pork and Amelia Park lamb and beef. It was founded in 1923 and is now Western Australia’s largest vertically integrated pork, lamb, and beef business. CMG also farms abalone in Victoria and Tasmania.

Every week CMG plants processes 15,000 pigs, 18,000 sheep and lambs, and 1200 cattle for domestic consumption and to buyers in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, the United States and Canada, South East Asia, and the Middle East.

Mr Crofts said CMG is optimistic about the future of the Western Australian sheep industry and its sheep meat sector?

“WA produces some of the best quality lamb in the world.

“We have recently doubled exports into the Middle East and have seen more demand growing in the Asia and North American markets.”

On whether WA’s sheep meat processing industry could provide the markets and price competitiveness to give producers confidence and keep enough sheep on WA farms to sustain a viable processing sector, Mr Crofts said CMG operated in a global market and has to be globally competitive in these sectors.

“And that means right through the chain from farm production, production and processing and packaging, and right through the supply chain.

“One of our biggest limitations currently is the number of flights, congestion through frozen exports and the competitiveness of freight from WA,” he said.

“We are working across all aspects of the supply chain to deliver competitive product to markets around the world.”

On what needs to be done at the processing, production, market and government/legislative levels to ensure a viable WA sheep industry, Mr Crofts said the government is seeking input from industry.

“We look forward to sharing our plans expansion in capacity and technology with them.

“We are working on additional support in skilled labour to assist in processing product, and the recent announcements on visa workers provide a real challenge for the meat industry in Australia,” he said.

“We required continued support from Austrade to grow market access and the recent UK announcement is a great example of that.

“We need greater innovation in packaging to meet the new packaging covenants,” Mr Crofts said.

“We require cost competitive supply chains to get product from Australian shores to markets.

“A great example of this is when the WA government assisted us to coordinate direct freight flights to Singapore during COVID.”

CMG started with wattlebark, tanning and leather

The Craig Mostyn Group was founded by Robert Long (RL) Mostyn and George Craig. It started in the wattle bark, tanning machinery and leather trade.

Trading back then as “Craig, Mostyn & Co” it then expanded in eucalyptus oil, wool, and rabbit skins, before branching into tallow, which the Company still produces today through its Talloman business.

Descendant and shareholder Andrew Mostyn said there is no doubt that RL Mostyn and George Craig were a pioneering force when they started the company in 1923.

“Their drive took them from beyond feeding just Australia, to becoming pioneers who cultivated world class produce which the nation and later the world trusted them to provide.

“They never rested on their laurels, never stopped learning and weren’t satisfied until they had achieved excellence,” he said.

After the death of George Craig in 1940, RL bought out his share in the business and continued their shared vision of building a great Australian food company.

Trading in a variety of goods in its early years like apples and pears, it expanded into a variety of other sectors such as stonefruit, grapes, prawns, and rock lobster tails, both domestically and in the United States.

“Like all visionaries, RL was an early advocate for sustainability… he understood the need to regulate the industry when required, such as pushing for regulations to prevent overfishing and for catch limits to be established,” Andrew Mostyn said.

He was focused on that desire. In 1967, the Federal Government was working to stop foreign vessels from plundering the Gulf of Carpentaria where Craig Mostyn was fishing for prawns, which resulted in the introduction of a Bill into Federal Parliament to establish a 12-mile territorial limit – a ‘no go’ zone for foreign vessels.

A year later, and reflecting his own forceful style, when he received reports of a Soviet ship intimidating Australian vessels within the ‘no go zone’ RL Mostyn sent a bold telegram to the then Prime Minister John Gorton – “without apologies, Mr Prime Minister, we expect you to take immediate action unless our government is content to be completely gutless.” His diplomatic pressure resulted in the RAN and RAAF stepping up patrols in the Gulf to stop an all-out fish war.

Prior to the mid 2000s, Craig Mostyn Group was a true trading company. Some of the goods it exported included wool, eucalyptus oil, fruit and vegetables, wine, condensed milk, sheep and cattle, birds, poultry, scallops, prawns, abalone, nickel, chrome, manganese and wheat. Some of the goods CMG imported included milk carton filling machines, fish, peeled prawns, fridges and freezers, yum cha products, fertilisers, rubber speed bumps and parking kerbs. The group also invested in stevedoring, trucking, travel agency, fishing boats, airlines, hardware store, mulch and potting mix, fiberglass roofing and airline catering.

V. & V. Walsh merger enabled greater efficiencies

In the mid-2000s, the business made a strategic shift, to mostly exit trading across Australia and to focus on protein production, predominantly in Western Australia, but also including Jade Tiger Abalone sourced from the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria and in Tasmania that is exported to Hong Kong, Japan and China.

CMG’s initial merger with V&V Walsh commenced in 2017 and in July 2022 the two companies reached an agreement to combine the two proud Western Australian family-owned agribusinesses.

The collaboration has enabled greater efficiencies in highly competitive markets, particularly in the rapidly developing export markets, CMG said.

CMG chair Neil Kearney said the company not only continues to pioneer new markets for its products, but also spearheads the way in which it processes and cares for its animals.

“Throughout the company’s proud history, from the board room to the boning room, our people, who’ve always been part of the Craig Mostyn Group family, has made the company the trusted source of food for 100 years.

“Craig Mostyn is the rarest of Australian companies – a business established by an enterprising Australian family that still thrives almost a century later under the stewardship of the descendants of that original family,” he said.

Mr Crofts said the company is extremely excited about the future, with further investments being made in technology; and retail ready sustainable packaging to complement our expansion plans into international markets, particularly our “pure pork” brand into Asia; together with significant investment being made in our people to develop and grow their careers.


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