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Tas Ag Co buys abattoir to secure supply chain

Sheep Central, May 2, 2022

Sam and Stephanie Trethewey, with Elliot, 3, and Evie, 18 months, have bought an abattoir to control their supply chain. Image – Supplied.

TASMANIAN regenerative beef producers Sam and Stephanie Trethewey have bought an abattoir to meet growing demand and to control quality in their supply chain.

The founders of regenerative beef brand, the Tasmanian Agricultural Company, have acquired the Claude Road abattoir near Sheffield in the state’s north with plans to increase production and expand to new customers.

The abattoir was formerly operated by former Kentish Quality Meats, but this business is not included in the sale.

Stephanie Trethewey said the plant currently has a licence to produce 100 tonnes of product a year, but they have plans to increase that.

“We’re in the early stages of significantly increasing that as we are oversubscribed with demand.

“At the moment it is quality over quantity,” she said.

“I think that is where a lot of facilities get it wrong, so we just want to get the quality right and then scale appropriately after we get things humming.”

They also have plans to expand their product range beyond beef, initially into eggs and chicken.

“We’re looking at collaborating with other regenerative producers as well,” she said.

The couple have also invested in a range of new equipment that will enable them to produce the highest quality product possible for the processing of beef, sheep and pigs. Over time, they plan to integrate technology and carcase data reporting for their customers. The abattoir’s role as a commission slaughtering facility for sheep and pig producers will continue.

The couple said their new business, The Local Meat Co, is now operating and will ensure the Tas Ag Co brand, as well as Tasmanian farmers, butchers and food service businesses have access to the processing facility, including its upgraded boning room. A dip tank to lift presentation of cryovacced product is on the list to remove barriers into certain markets, Stephanie Trethewey said.

“Since we launched last year, we’ve been met with ridiculous demand for our own product.

“When we first got into this we thought the Wagyu part would matter, but what we’re actually finding is that the market we are chatting to is more interested in the regenerative side of things — the Wagyu is a bit of a bonus as a beautiful eating product,” she said.

“Our brand strategy and the data we are collecting and all the improvements we are making to our ecosystems is what people are most interested in, in those Melbourne and Sydney markets.

“It ties into that people are increasingly conscious about climate change and meat – we know that meat gets a bad rap,” she said.

“Our whole journey is really to champion that there is a way to farm more sustainably and that’s underpinning the demand.”

Abattoir will retain commitment to local producers

The facility is one of only a few abattoirs that offer service kills for local brands and producers in Tasmania, and ensuring their long term viability is critical, the couple said. They said the Local Meat Co is committed to enabling farmers across the region to maintain access to markets which underpin Tasmania’s unique brand and food story.

“We believe the future of food lies in returning to a decentralised system with transparency and ethics at the core,” Sam Trethewey said.

“The reality is, consumers want more integrity in their supply chain, and you’ve only got to look at recent events surrounding big food companies to see that.

“The narrative is changing and consumers are demanding better,” he said.

The couple said they began producing regenerative Wagyu cross beef under the Tas Ag Co brand less than three years ago, and the business has grown rapidly to include three properties under management and a small team of young, passionate people to back them.

Since launching their beef to market last year, Tas Ag Co has been met with insatiable demand from around the country, and investing in the abattoir gives them the opportunity to finally service those markets.

“This is an amazing opportunity to put our money where our mouth is.

“When they buy our produce, Tas Ag Co customers will be investing in a true paddock to plate story with no middle man, and that is so rare,” Stephanie Trethewey said.

Emma Wills is the co-owner of boutique butchery Meat Mistress in Hobart’s Sandy Bay.

Their business has consistently been selling out of Tas Ag Co’s beef since it partnered with the brand last year.

“Having access to a consistent and high quality Tasmanian beef product which we can trace the supply chain from farm, to abattoir, to the shop is paramount for us.

“Our customers have really responded to Sam and Steph’s story and it didn’t take long for people to start asking for Tas Ag Co beef by name,” Emma said.

“Which, when you eat one of their perfectly marbled steaks, you can absolutely understand why,” she said.

The Local Meat Co is now taking processing bookings and enquiries through its website www.thelocalmeatco.com.au

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