Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Co Pty Ltd.
What…do you do?
We are Australia’s largest supply chain manager and manufacturer of organic meat. We sell domestically and we export to approximately 8 countries. Our organic products are beef and lamb.
In the domestic market we supply to the major supermarkets under the “Cleaver’s” brand. Quite a bit of this product is value added and includes our new paleo range of products. We were lucky enough to win the best organic food product for our paleo sausage.
Internationally our customers include Whole Food Markets in the USA. They are the major retailer of organic product in the North American market.
Where…are you located?
Our headquarters is in Toowoomba in QLD. It’s very close to where our beef is processed and most of our cattle producers are also in QLD. We also have operations on the Central Coast of NSW and an office in Sydney.
What is your organic story?
Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Co is the result of a long term friendship between our CEO (Alister Ferguson) and the Livestock Manager (Peter Gall). Both grew up on cattle properties in western Queensland and their friendship goes back to their teens.
Both Alister and Peter grew up in the Western Qld town of Blackall. Alister was from a cattle property while Peter’s family ran a large flock of self-replacing merinos and Santa/Hereford cattle.
Peter’s family merinos required perpetual treatment with synthetic chemicals to ward off lice and flies. Nobody in Peter’s family enjoyed the use of chemicals and they became sick if they inadvertently got it in contact with their skin (which was often!). Their cattle on the other hand, while they were a secondary income, required no chemicals at all. After seeing “certified organic beef” being sold in a small butcher shop in Melbourne for a huge premium whilst at college, Peter decided investigate this market further.
Peter returned to the family property after college and proceeded to tell them that they needed organic certification. This concerned many of his family. Despite their concerns, they decided to back Peter’s judgement and give it a go – the wool floor price had broken down and prices were very depressed. Little did they know, Peter had no idea where they were going to market their organic beef, lamb and wool once they became certified. They applied for “organic certification” with the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA) in 1997 and received full certification in 1999. Where were they going to market their product? There were no other certified producers in their area at all. Peter formed a company and processed four head of their cattle at the Pittsworth abattoir (after getting it certified organic as well), and proceeded to sell the meat. This was when the market for organic meat really took off.
Coles began to stock certified organic meat around this time and not long after, exporters began shipping certified organic beef into the EU. Peter helped these companies with their supply chains because he knew if there was more supply, his own limited numbers of cattle would be easier to sell. Peter tried the certified organic lamb market with limited success (although this market has grown significantly since) and he also sold “certified organic wool” into Germany, but the premium was not great at the time.
Peter’s friend of many years, Alister Ferguson, was working in a large meat trading business but shared Peter’s passion for grass fed organic meat. He joined forces with Peter and in 2005 Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Co selected a modest 66 head of cattle for processing from a certified organic farm in central Queensland. The outcome was excellent. Demand grew rapidly, the momentum from success with beef carrying the company into the organic lamb market in 2008.
As a result of increasing global demand for grass-fed organic meat, Arcadian Organic has grown to be the largest certified organic meat producer network in Australia. The combination of sophisticated processing systems and advanced supply chains allows Arcadian to supply a truly global market.
Arcadian’s growth has been driven by a commitment to Australian family farming. We love the fact that we’re helping to safeguard their environment and the wellbeing of future farming generations.
Today Alister Ferguson is the CEO of Arcadian Organic and Natural Meat Company and Peter is the Livestock Manager. Peter is also on the Board of Australian Organic – which started out as the BFA.
The growth in organics has been extraordinary since Peter and Alister’s journey began. Peter and Alister owe a great deal to the industry and are proud to be a part of its growth.
What do you love most about your business?
What we love most are the relationships – and that’s with both customers and suppliers. It’s fantastic to see our partners in both groups enjoying prolonged growth. They also have truly sustainable businesses as a result of partnering with us around organic meat product.
We have long term partnerships with both customers and livestock producers. Every time we enter a new relationship we anticipate it is going to last for many years.
Many of our partners, especially the farmers, are family businesses. There is a real feeling of contributing directly to the wellbeing of farming families through what were are doing.
Even though we don’t do business with consumers directly, we do get a lot of direct feedback, especially via social media. When consumers get in touch to say how much our product means to them and the wellbeing of their family, it is especially heartening.