Argyle Foods Group beefs up exports to Taiwan

15 March 2022

Like other exporters hit by the pandemic and trade disruptions, Argyle Foods Group had to find new markets quickly. After a series of introductions brokered by Austrade, the company found a new partner to buy its value-added beef products in Taiwan. Importantly, the partner is aligned with Argyle Foods Group’s commitment to high-quality, sustainable operations.

‘We would never have won the Taiwan business without Austrade,’ says Bryce Graham, Co-CEO, Argyle Foods Group. ‘Austrade’s people in-country know the market and have the right contacts. This makes Austrade more valuable than ever at a time when travel is still challenging.’

All-natural, sustainable operations

Graham’s great-grandfather founded Argyle Pastoral in 1938. Today Argyle Foods Group is one of Australia’s largest vertically integrated meat processing businesses. The company prides itself on raising its beef and lamb in a natural, sustainable way. It processes its meat in state-of-the-art facilities to ensure quality control and end-to-end traceability.

Sustainability has been the centre of Argyle Foods Group’s farming operations for over 30 years. The company is now stepping up its commitment to become an industry leader in sustainable meat production. It is working on a carbon-neutral production system based on regenerative agricultural practices. The aim is to improve biodiversity and utilise perennial pasture and cattle management.

Diversifying into new markets

Argyle Foods Group has been exporting to Asia for 7 years. In China, it was supplying 3,500 supermarkets directly. It had launched a frozen-thawed program in the country, the only company in the world to do so. The program involved exporting and distributing snap-frozen meat direct to Chinese retailers. The retailers would then market the products chilled with a 28-day shelf life.

Trade issues with China, however, have been disruptive to its business. The company has not done any business in China since March 2020.

When Austrade called to offer support, Graham gladly accepted. The agency asked Graham for his 10 priority markets and identified those with the strongest opportunities. It then provided Graham with market insights and partner introductions.

argyle-march

New Taiwan partner delivers US$140K in business

Argyle Foods Group secured an early win in Taiwan with Austrade’s help. The company has exported its premium beef to a major global supermarket chain for around 6 years. However, it wanted to find a customer to take other cuts of meat.

‘We aim to sell all of our grass-fed, 100% natural cattle direct to retail to maximise brand and livestock returns,’ says Graham. ‘We were looking for a buyer for value-added products made from fallout cuts, including burgers, mince, diced, stir-fry and hotpot SKUs.’

Austrade invited Argyle Foods Group to the Taiwan International Food Show, where its products attracted strong interest. The agency also introduced Graham to 10 potential customers. After a series of one-on-one virtual meetings, he partnered with an emerging importer with similar values to Argyle Foods Group.

‘The importer is focused on 100% natural grass-fed meat, zero hormones, no antibiotics,’ says Graham. ‘They’re vigilant about making sure their suppliers adhere to those requirements. They were a great match for us.’

Argyle Foods Group sent a trial shipment to Taiwan in December 2021. The importer was so pleased it placed a second order soon after. The second shipment will be sent in March 2022. The two shipments were worth over US$140,000.

‘Working with Austrade means we can avoid a scattergun approach,’ says Graham. ‘They know the market and can connect us to the right people. It helps ensure we sell the right product to the right customer.’

Argyle Foods Group is now working with Austrade to find new markets in the ASEAN region.

Promising opportunities in the US and the UK

Argyle Foods Group plans to expand business in the US and the UK. A carbon-neutral business is vital to achieving this.

‘The UK is a market that’s open to grass-fed, hormone-free beef,’ says Graham. ‘UK retailers are also sophisticated buyers with an interest in carbon neutrality. The Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement will create good opportunities when it comes into force.’

The US is also a promising market, according to Co-CEO Lachlan Graham. He told APAC Outlook a greener mindset among American consumers will create ‘heightened demand’ for the company’s products. He adds that the US represents about 40% of its forward market.

‘Our goal now is to progress our carbon neutrality plans,’ says Graham. ‘It’s the key to improving productivity and increasing livestock value.’

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