The Aussie dollar is pushed to new heights due to a thriving commodities sector. Now, other exporters are less competitive. However, one food company is bypassing the challenge… Tasmanian Quality Meats (TQM), a meat processor, has found abundance in a niche export market.
It Starts With Innovation
Clyde Russell, Reuters Asia Commodities and Energy Columnist, says: “I think what their significance is that they’re showing that you can innovate and you can be successful, and there are different ways to do things, keep jobs in Australia and still make money.”
TQM is most known for the fresh Halal meat it sells to the Middle East. Clyde Russell took a trip to its Tasmanian processing plant.
Clyde Russell says: “What I think they might do is show that you can replace the live export animal trade – which is controversial and has been subject to a whole series of reports about animal cruelty – you can replace that with processing meat in Australia and exporting fresh meat to your traditional clients and have a lot of success in that.”
As of now, Australia holds the No. 1 spot for exporting mutton and live sheep.
Clyde Russell says: “I think the main thing that surprised me was that this was a small company is run on a very, very tight budget. There was nothing luxurious in their offices. All the money that they’ve invested has been in building a state-of-the-art facility. This is a very lean operation. It’s no frills, but they’re very determined to make it work. And they’ve also got very strong ties to the community. The two owners of this company are local lads. One was a meat packer, and the other was a local business owner – he ran a service station. And they have really sort of come together and said, you know, “we can make this work, and we’re going to put our hearts and souls and our backs into it. And they are, in some ways, they’re pioneers.”
Thinking Outside of the Box
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Russel says: “For bigger commodities like coal and iron ore, it’s going to be harder to innovate. The innovation there is producing it as cheaply as you can. But what the lessons are is that, I guess if you are a country that is suffering from the resources boom you have to think outside the box. So what these guys have done is, yes, they suffer from the high dollar – they are delighted that the Aussie dollar has started to fall – but they’ve managed to build a business that is not dependent upon the value of the dollar. They can overcome it. And I think if anything, that’s what more Australian manufactures should be looking at – what products can we still make that would be of use around the world. Where are our competitive advantages?”
TQM’s success has definitely placed it on the map, and it would be no surprise for other companies to start following suit…