Wagyu takes its premium place|
Wagyu takes its premium place
18 May, 2015 04:00 AM
AACO (www.aaco.com.au) has long conjured up images of sprawling outback stations and big herds of cattle, but today the company’s revenue stands firmly on a small, black Japanese animal eating from a feed trough.
“Wagyu is our signature product,” AACo chairman Don McGauchie told the World Wagyu Conference at Yeppoon at the weekend.
“It is responsible for not only being a good revenue source for our company, but a great deal more importantly, for influencing one of the most significant changes in direction the company has taken in its almost 200 years of history.”
By “good revenue source”, Mr McGauchie observed that Wagyu genetics were involved in 44 per cent of company revenue when AACo reported its half-year results in September 2014. “Our purpose is to produce the very best beef in the world, and then to get the very best margin we possibly can from that beef,” Mr McGauchie said.
“Wagyu is not the only important part of our business, but as our flagship product, it gives us the opportunity to create premium and then super-premium brands that we can leverage for all other beef brands in the stable.
“Australia is a high-cost country. We cannot succeed in the commodity end of the market. “We want to be positioned at the very tip of the price pyramid - whether it is Wagyu, short-fed, live export or even manufacturing beef, we want it to be a premium product in each of the markets within which we operate.”
If AACo can do it, the wider beef industry can do it, Mr McGauchie said. The challenge is to lift Wagyu above perceptions that it is a cottage industry. “For us as a company, nearly $70 million over six months is hardly a cottage industry. “At AACo, we are putting serious scale into this industry. We need to leave behind the niche tag.
“There is going to be increasing demand for Wagyu in years to come, so much so that I think we will really struggle to supply that potential demand.
“I welcome as many people as possible putting really high-class brands into the marketplace, and doing everything they can to support those brands.”
High-end fashion brands and car manufacturers don’t retreat into corners and fight each other from a distance, Mr McGAuchie said: they concentrate in areas like Melbourne’s Collins Street or Sydney’s Castlereagh Street and project a unified image of luxury shopping to the consumer. (Wangfujin Street in Beijing, the Bund and Pudong in Shanghai)
AACo will be using its pastoral history and great stations in its marketing, which will include driving the image of AACo as a luxury beef producer with deep history.
“I think Wagyu is capable of being the super-premium brand, the Porsche of the industry, and underpinning that is the Australian experience,” Mr McGauchie said.