There was a two tier Strategy involved
1. Change the Way of Farming
Farming hadn't changed much over the 20 odd years that I had owned the farms. When I returned from Sydney to live back at the farm in the early 90's, I thought I had stepped into a time warp where nothing had changed for the last 20 years that I had been away. Yet, where I had come from in Sydney, if you weren't changing your business on a continuing basis, your business would go backwards, eventually, you would be out of business.
The farmers were still marketing their cattle each year at the Sale Yards and hoping that this year was better than last year. It was the luck of the draw, that you picked the right sale when the cattle dealers needed cattle. The farmer had no control over this and the prices they received were minimal. Most farmers sold their cattle only once or twice a year, and you could guarantee by the time they received their money it was spent. It was a terrible cash flow situation.
The first thing that I did on my property was to design a product that I believed the consumers were after. That was a clean green product. In producing our animals we would not use Antibiotics or hormonal Growth promotants in our feed and they were not reared in a feedlot, they were pasture fattened. Nature's Beef was the start of the marketing strategy of Hormone-Free meat which Coles & Woolworth's are now just getting into,10 years later. We also bred all year around (which the locals said was impossible), keep the calves longer, and achieve the goal of selling calves every month so that the farm had a cash flow, like any other business.
2. Farmers Marketing their own Product
Within the region, a number of farmers were organised to produce the product that Nature's Beef required. This we started to sell to butchers in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. It didn't take the retailers long to appreciate that they now had a supplier of superior meat. Their customers were now coming back for more. Now the problem was how to supply the product every month all through the year. So a network of farmer groups was set up from Central Queensland to the Hunter Valley.
We now had many of the top restaurants in Brisbane and even Sydney wanting the product. Nature's Beef was very restrictive in the supply of their product and insisted when a new butcher or chef wanted the product they had to travel to the farm and to the processing plant to see how the animals were reared and how the product was prepared for sale. They needed to tell their customers Nature's Beef story.
The next step in the marketing was to get the product known to a wider field of the audience. We were inviting chefs & butchers to the farm, setting up a marquee with amazing linen tablecloth tables restaurant in the middle of a paddock and then having our chef to serve a superb beef meal that showed off the quality product followed by Nature's Beef production story. We had bus loads of producers come to the farm to experience the same but to create an environment of discussion of how can farmers do it better. Outside was the 40-foot banner saying Beef Producers taking control of their Product & their Industry.
Then for the consumers, you would find Nature's Beef running a restaurant at 3 day farmer field day events where the general public could actually taste the quality beef. The promotion extended to many areas in NSW and was regularly seen at the Ekka showcasing its product and winning awards.
But the biggest differentiation was the unique labelling of the product (picture on left) that gave the butcher, chef and consumer the traceability of the product. This within the industry was said to be unable to be done. But Nature's Beef did it.
What happened you may ask? Nature's Beef got into export and committed suicide. What a shame.