Intensified global marketing push for meat industry leader

Fri, 06 Aug 2010
Ricky Larsen

Intensified global marketing push for meat industry leader

Southland Meat Company Blue Sky Meats is predicting an interesting and exciting year ahead with changes in the meat industry and the company's plans to continue its major marketing push into Asia and Europe.

The company's been producing top quality high value sheep meat for customers throughout the world for more than 20 years.

Company founder and chairman, Graham Cooney told yesterday's annual general meeting that while profits are well down on last year the company is looking to the future in an industry that's going through huge changes.

He believes a range of important issues will determine the future of the industry.

"These include New Zealanders' reactions to foreign investment in land and processing plants, consumers demanding more locally grown fresh produce, and which countries give the best returns and in what form they want their meat," says Graham.

He says it is obvious the status quo is not viable in the New Zealand sheep meat industry and Blue Sky Meats is taking steps to ensure it continues to be a strong player.

"We see real potential in areas such as China where there is a growing demand for higher value cuts such as French racks, leg roasts and boneless products like tenderloins."

The company is planning a major global marketing initiative targeting high end customers in Asia and Europe and has spent the last few months reviewing and improving its marketing material and making certain its processes are working effectively.

"Blue Sky Meats sells its products under the Horizon and Star brands which both have strong reputations in the market place, what we have done is build on that to make sure we are giving the customer what they want and doing it well."

Graham Cooney says the company is leveraging off the unique aspects of Southern New Zealand in its marketing, including its lush green pastures and vast inspiring landscapes.

"The brand re-launch will ensure the company remains ahead of the competition and is relevant to the current market while positioning Blue Sky Meats and the farmers who supply it in the way they deserve to be."

Graham Cooney says the overseas marketing push is backed up by a strong desire to ensure the sustainability of lamb and sheep farming in Southland.

"We want to ensure the farmers supplying Blue Sky Meats with top quality Southland lamb and sheep are being well looked after."

For the last two seasons the company has trialed a heavy lamb contract with a fixed price announced before the season starts.

"We will continue to use this system in the coming season as it has worked extremely well for everyone and ensured above average lamb prices for our suppliers."

Graham Cooney says Blue Sky Meats has always been a pioneer in the industry and continues to explore new technologies to increase productivity, improve quality and lower processing costs.

"During the next few months we expect to finalise some capital projects we will be investing in to improve profitability."

Graham Cooney says Blue Sky Meats has always been an industry leader and its re-brand and global marketing strategy continue that tradition in an ever-changing industry.

For further information please contact:

Ricky Larsen Blue Sky Meats General Manager P: 03 231 3421 M: 027 471 9199

Background Information on Blue Sky Meats

  • A single chain, multi-shift processing plant.

  • A public unlisted company that was formed by current Chairman Graham Cooney in 1987.

  • Processes sheep, lamb, bobby calves, and goats.

  • Employs around 350 people in Invercargill and Auckland.

  • Currently exports high value meat cuts to 36 countries around the world.

  • Sources its sheep and lambs from farmers in Southland and Otago

  • Capable of handling up to 30 thousand stock units a week

  • Operating revenue to 31 March 2010 of $85 million