Searing the name, Rangeland Quality Meats, into the minds of consumers was the motivation behind the Hughes family’s decision to move into the world of branded beef in 2010.
While much has changed since then, connecting and educating customers is still the prime driver and success factor for Philip and Adele Hughes and their sons Lachlan and Alister.
Alister, the company’s business director, based in Brisbane, said the intentions were good at the start but they soon learnt it had to pay for itself.
“We started off with a butcher shop on Brisbane’s north side, killing a dozen head a week but we realised everyone votes with their wallet – you’ve got to have that volume,” he said.
His father, Philip, described it another way when he took part in an AgForce discussion on Grazing BMP at Beef 2018, saying they had an initial rosy vision that they had a good product and lots of ideas on how they could market it for a good return.
“We found you need to be in the market weekly, with the same high quality product, in big enough quantities to be relevant,” he said.
“Meat is a world traded commodity – 64,000 head were killed in Queensland last week, or about 13,000 tonnes of meat.
“From live to meat in a box we end up with about 38 per cent of the live animal, about 5pc of which is primal.
“The rest is a commodity that is widely traded with very transparent values.”
Both Philip and Alister used the word passion when explaining their commitment to getting their brand established.
Their next move in that direction was to sell online, which saw Rangelands move a lot of boxed beef into southern markets, a very labour-intensive exercise.
Butcher shops remain the preference for their branded product and its family-owned, steroid-free, paddock-raised message.
Philip said all producers needed to understand they were part of a supply chain and identify who their market was and what that market required to make their business more profitable.
The Hughes family has a long association with producing red meat, and the decision to begin RQM seemed like a natural progression.
The current business structure is to undertake the breeding and some backgrounding at Banchory at Clermont, while more backgrounding and the finishing happens at Dulacca Downs and Heatherlea at Dulacca.
They supply 20 tonnes of boxed beef into the Australian domestic market per week, using Milla Murra Angus bulls and a program of control mating, and spike feeding to join their heifers at 12 months of age at 320-plus kilograms.
On the value of Grazing BMP, Philip said it gave their management practices credibility.
“We can say we are clean and green – our animal welfare practices are excellent – but we need to prove it,” he told the AgForce Q&A.
“It also helps with the journey of change. You will see standards through this process that you need to improve in and start the process of change.”