Total Livestock Genetics: From humble beginnings to global success

October 2017

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Total Livestock Genetics became a global competitor with help from Australia’s free trade agreements.

Total Livestock Genetics (TLG) may have started out as a small business running out of the back of a car, but today the company is one of the largest livestock embryo and semen collection centres in Australia.

TLG offers a range of complementary services for livestock embryo and semen collection, including storage and despatch, import and export of genetic material and live animal export. The company also provides a complete suite of equine and ovine reproductive services.

With a large client base of global genetics companies, TLG decided to begin its own export process. Initially, much of the company’s export work involved collecting and exporting embryos and semen on behalf of clients. This proved to be successful and TLG saw an opportunity to grow its business and build its international presence.

Partnerships provide export confidence

Michelle Williams, Export Manager at TLG, says the decision to expand their breeding animal export services came from a partnership with New Zealand dairy company, Fonterra, in 2013.

‘Fonterra approached us to source and export pregnant dairy animals to their China operations,’ she says. ‘We used gender selected semen from the bulls that we owned to impregnate heifers and we ended up exporting about 15,000 of them into China.

‘This gave us the confidence and experience to apply the same model to other Chinese clients and export markets. We’ve now successfully exported dairy heifers to Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand,’ she says.

North Asia – an important export region

TLG exports most of its products to North Asia, with China and Japan forming the two largest export markets.

Williams says the entire North Asia region is an important export destination for TLG’s products, but specifically the genetics trade into China is something they are focusing heavily on.

‘In 2016, Australian exports of bovine semen into China totalled A$200,000, which all came from TLG’s sales. For 2017, we’re predicting sales to reach A$400,000, and we believe there is huge potential for further growth.’

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has kept TLG’s exports tariff-free, while the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) has reduced tariffs on many of the company’s products.

Export journey not always simple

Having exported for a number of years, Williams says it hasn’t always been smooth sailing and there have been many learning opportunities along the way.

‘Our biggest challenge in China is actually closing the deal,’ she says. ‘We’ve had a lot of interest in our business, met with many potential clients and made it all the way to the final stages of contract negotiations for it to go nowhere.

‘Identifying real potential and establishing what is a good use of our time and resources are some of our biggest challenges. But we’ve learnt to stick to our core values and be patient and eventually the right deal will come up.’

Relationships have been the key to TLG’s export success, but Williams says these relationships need to be nurtured at each stage of the process to ensure products are highly valued by those who are willing to invest.

‘Our strategy has always been on building trade relationships that bring value to every stage of the export process. I think without good partnerships, you’re just another somebody in a highly competitive environment,’ Williams says.

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