Greenlea turns 20

Allan BarberWaikato based Greenlea Premier Meats turns twenty this month and considering that they have just spent twenty years in the meat industry they seem to be in remarkably good shape, writes Allan Barber.

They are currently the Westpac Waikato Business of the Year taking out both the large business and supreme winner categories and their two plants are basically full on both shifts all year round. This year they will process more than 200,000 cattle and in the past five years they have invested more than $45 million in their plants.

Tony Egan' Greenlea Premier Meats new managing directorOwned by the Egan family, Greenlea is not one of the big four meat companies, but belongs instead to a group of smallerplayers who do not seem to share the view that the meat industry is ‘broken and dysfunctional’. Neither do they regard collaboration with farmers as an issue; in fact they get plenty of support and Greenlea’s managing director Tony Egan reckons this is due to mutual respect. “They see us doing our job well and give us their support. It’s as simple as that”.

Greenlea celebrated its twenty year anniversary with a function in Hamilton, at which the company announced a $50,000 donation to Kidscan, one of the many charities supported by the Greenlea Foundation Trust. A coffee table book has been published to capture the memories and spirit of the organisation over the past twenty years.

Fred Hellaby, managing director of Auckland Meat Processors, confirms the smaller companies remain upbeat and he points to a successful collaboration with Greenlea over the past two seasons to utilise capacity efficiently. “We had some surplus capacity at the peak cow run and so collaborated with Greenlea to take their overflow.” This approach seems to make more sense than adding more capacity and is definitely in line with the goals of the Red Meat Sector strategy.

Greenlea also has an agreement with Firstlight Foods to process its Wagyu cattle. This collaboration is a win/win, as it enables Firstlight to focus on adding value in the market, while both companies have been able to learn from each other over the past few years.

So perhaps some of the answers for the industry can be found with the smaller players, who seem to be getting on with the job quite well.

Allan Barber is a meat industry commentator. He has his own blog Barber’s Meaty Issues and can be contacted by emailing him at allan@barberstrategic.co.nz.

1 Comment on Greenlea turns 20

  1. The thing is Allan, the smaller nimble, well run players only ever have to pay as much for stock as the big boys are paying, to get stock. If we had 1 or 2 of the big players who could really pay very competitive prices say $10-15 per lamb more to ordinary suppliers consistently than the competitors, then we would see how good the second tier players like Ovation really are.

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