EXPANSION works at Mort & Co's Grassdale beef feedlot in the Darling Downs region of Queensland saw the operation kick off 2020 at full capacity as Australia's largest feedlot, with the capability to turn off upwards of 200,000 head a year.
The four years of work is now completed, taking the capacity to 70,000 standard cattle units up from 54,000 which means within the feedlot's conventional mix of cattle, around 77,000 head can be held.
While the recent rain has seen inventory reduced slightly, the company anticipates building to full capacity in the near future.
Despite the increase in the cost of feeder cattle on the back of improved seasonal conditions, Mort & Co says it predicts a medium-term reduction in grain prices and continued strong global sales to deliver favourable costs of gains.
It says this will ensure feedlotters can compete strongly for livestock and continue to incentivise farmers to sell available stock.
Mort & Co says it expanded operations due to increased demand from both traditional processing customers as well as growth in its Phoenix Beef branded program.
Demand for the Phoenix Beef range continues to grow across all three brands - Grandchester (black Angus), The Phoenix (F1-F4 marbled Wagyu) and Master Selection (purebred and fullblood Wagyu).
The company has seen a 45 per cent increase in total sales across the branded beef portfolio from financial year 18/19 to 19/20, year-to-date.
General manager for meat sales and operations Brett Williams said the Phoenix Beef range continued to gain momentum in a variety of international markets.
"Our meat team has been working extremely hard to ensure the specification, quality and presentation of each brand exceeds the standards our customers expect," he said.
In 2019, Mort & Co sourced cattle from more than 1400 graziers in 475 regional locations across the eastern seaboard. The business procures 96pc of cattle directly from the paddock, with the remainder purchased from saleyards when required.
For the Phoenix Beef range, the livestock team work with a selection of trusted graziers who can ensure consistent genetics and pre-feedlot conditioning.
Mort & Co believes there will be a number of contributing factors that will drive growth in the lotfeeding sector.
These include increased demand for protein globally, but in particular, high quality and consistent beef.
A change in the livestock producer target market from finished cattle to feeders and processors adjusting to reflect increases in feedlots and a change in brand owner sales/marketing behaviour will also drive growth.
In line with the Grassdale expansion, Mort & Co have brought online their own gas-fired power plant, a move that will allow them to meet their individual power requirements and become a net exporter back into the grid.
In announcing the completion of Grassdale's expansion works, supported by the Palaszczuk Government's $175 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund, Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner said Mort & Co was also constructing a new fertiliser pellet manufacturing facility, set to be delivered in the first half of this year.
"In a first for the Australian beef industry, Mort & Co will use innovative technologies to convert 60,000 tonnes of manure into high-value granulated fertiliser pellets," Mr Furner said.
"This process will provide the feedlot with an environmental solution to waste issues, while also generating a new form of revenue for the company."
New chief executive officer Stephen O'Brien said every business should be looking to grow and Mort & Co was no exception.
"Our business is constantly looking to expand and remains in a position to move should the right opportunity present itself," he said.
Mort & Co also operate Pinegrove Feedlot at Millmerran.
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