Murraylands lamb hits supermarket shelves

Thornby Premium Lamb headed to Romeo's Foodland stores


Agribusiness
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THORNBY Premium Lamb is reaping the benefits of being able to produce lamb year-round, signing a deal to supply more than 20 Romeo's Foodland stores.

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Being able to guarantee year-round supply of top quality lamb at a time when many brands are finding it difficult due to the dry season is creating opportunities for Murraylands brand Thornby Premium Lamb.

Two months ago in a major coup it began supplying Romeo's Foodland stores across Adelaide.

Thornby Premium Lamb is on the shelves at seven stores - Mitcham, Port Adelaide, Fairview Park, Rostrevor, Croydon, Glenelg and Daw Park - and in the next couple of months is set to be in 90 per cent of Romeo's nearly 30 stores.

Thornby's Paul McGorman says it was a long-held ambition to supply the retail group renowned for supporting local farmers.

We put it on a tray and it sells itself. - FRANK CALABRO

Romeo Foodland meat supervisors Frank Calabro and Paul Burrowes have been impressed by the high yielding, consistent quality carcases.

"Customers do come in and say I want that lamb that I had last week, so if we can continue that it is a win-win for both of us," Mr Calabro said.

"Having grainfed you get that great (fat) colour and we put it on a tray and it sells itself."

Thornby Premium Lamb was launched in 2014 by sixth-generation mixed farmers Paul and Alex McGorman and their father John, after they won the title of Australia's best lamb at LambEx from 66 brands.

Last year they added a gold medal for best domestic lamb at Sydney's Fine Food awards.

Related reading:Behind the scenes at Thornby Premium Lamb feedlot

Paul admits the value-adding journey has required patience, first selling at farmers markets, the embracing online boxed sales and now focusing on the retail sector.

The McGormans have made a couple of small shipments to China and Japan but their focus is to grow their domestic market first.

Last year Thornby turned off nearly 60,000 lambs from its Sanderston feedlot.

Many of these are sold to Thomas Foods International but other SA stockists of Thornby's branded lamb include Meat at the Market at Adelaide's Central Market.

If you can't be confident with record wool and lamb prices when can you be? - PAUL McGORMAN

"We took a hit as a creditor of Gunners (Richard Gunner Fine Meats) but we are still moving forward and are looking to sell more and more of our lambs ourselves," Paul said.

Thornby's sales manager Troy Hall says having a fully-traceable product puts them in a strong position, with one of Sydney's most exclusive butcher stores Victor Churchill even in their sights.

"The consumer does still buy on price but we are trying to get back to that paddock to plate relationship which I really believe people are looking for more and more ," Mr Hall said.

"In these tougher times people, if they can, want to support a SA farming family too."

Paddock to plate story to be told

A new five-stand, raised-board shearing shed at the McGorman family's Sanderston property is helping Thornby Premium Lamb share its story.

Since it was completed last year it has welcomed a steady stream of visitors including school groups and Ag Bureau members.

The McGormans' ultimate goal is to also host chefs.

"People want to know where their lamb comes from and that it is ethically produced, which we are able to show them - to me that is more important than us calling it organic or free range," Paul McGorman said.

He says the drought has dented confidence but there is still plenty of positivity in the sheep industry.

"If you can't be confident with record wool and lamb prices when can you be?" he said.

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