2005 Winners

New South Wales Winner 2005 - Jennifer Bradley

Empower lamb producers to manage and minimize price fluctuations

At the time of the Award Jennifer served as a Board Director on one of the largest producer marketing groups in New South Wales, as well as managing a mixed farming enterprise in partnership with her husband and family in the state’s central west.  The Tooraweenah Prime Lamb Marketing Cooperative markets for some 80 producers with an annual turnover of between 45,000 and 85,000 prime lambs.

During her years as a Director, Jennifer was been responsible for organizing and running numerous field days, established a quarterly newsletter for members, and actively canvassed new members and coordinated media management.  On the family farm she was responsible for the sheep enterprise which comprises of 150 specially selected Border Leicester breeding ewes and 1500 Merino ewes, to produce first cross prime lambs.

Her vision for her industry is to empower lamb producers to manage and minimize price fluctuations through improving their marketing knowledge and skills.

Jennifer believes that Australian lamb producers through superior management practices produce a world class product, but they lack the necessary marketing skills to financially reward them for the quality of their product and also lack the necessary business and negotiation skills to deal equally with processors.  New Zealand producers, she feels, by contrast have learnt to meet stringent market specifications within tight environmental constraints. Lamb marketing in New Zealand she believed was also far more sophisticated, offering producers a range of contract schedules and pricing options.

Jennifer proposed to undertake a study tour of New Zealand to learn from their producers the production principles they employ to meet the market specifications and to explore the marketing options available. She also proposed to further develop her negotiation and leadership skills, in an effort to improve relationships with processors and to encourage other women within her industry to take a more active and participatory role.

2005 Victoria Winner - Sue Markwell

Research Study into Equine Recuperation Methods

At the time of the Award, Sue Markwell was the first female manager of one of Victoria’s most highly respected thoroughbred horse studs “Tremon Thoroughbreds”.

The stud has earned itself a reputation for quality care and world class facilities, providing for the breeding and caring of horses, from foaling mares to yearlings and racehorses and more recently as a aftercare and recovery unit. Sue’s vision is to provide a world’s best practice stud that offers owners options in the treatment and care, including both traditional and alternative practices, of horses of all breeds.

The advent of specialist facilities at Tremon to treat horses with specific illnesses and injuries defined a new market between the level of care offered by veterinarians for acute patients and the general agistment services for horses with minor problems. But for Tremon and the industry as a whole to achieve its maximum potential, Sue felt a greater knowledge of the range of available methods employed in caring for horses and facilities required for it to operate needed to be investigated.

Her activity involved extensive study and research of the equine industry, investigating the range of available methods employed in caring for horses from traditional through to alternative practices and the facilities required, both here in Australia and New Zealand.

The study tours of Australia and New Zealand included veterinary clinics, studs and alternative therapy units, to investigate new practices and advances, along with trends in traditional and alternative practices, with a particular focus on neo-natal support.  The study tour revealed a number of important findings:

  • Traditional practitioners nominated tendons, lacerations and colics as the most common illnesses and injuries in Australia compared to respiratory problems in New Zealand. Alternative practitioners reported leg and back problems as the main treatments undertaken.
  • Traditional practitioners nominated joint ill and angular limb deformities as the most common reason for treating foals, with all highlighting the correlation between the increasing size of thoroughbreds with the escalating numbers of foals requiring treatment for legs.
  • Traditional practitioners nominated the advent of ultrasound as the most effective recent advance in technology, due to its ability to detect tissue and tendon injuries, with digital x-rays for quality purposes and cyntigraphy for bone problems also considered important.
  • Most valuable advances in treatments varied between traditional practitioners, and included bone marrow transfer, treatments of fractures and casts and treatment of lacerations and the range of drugs now available.
  • Most valuable advances in treatments of wounds also varied between traditional practitioners from animal lintex combined with dry top dressing, cortisone based gels and gel gauze bandage combined with plaster and fibreglass to prevent pressure with restrictions of movement.
  • Non-traditional methods of treatment, including chiropractic, acupuncture or massage were not widely employed by the majority of vet clinics surveyed.

The majority of vet clinics also refer foals on to specialized units for neo-natal treatment. The range of treatments available for stabling neo-natal foals varied considerably, from water beds to more sophisticated matting to simple padded pens with sheepskins, with the range of pens also varying significantly. The major risk for all neo-natal facilities was disease control, with treatments also varying greatly from footbaths and washing facilities to integrated light and heating units to control temperature and ventilation.

The study tour established a definite need for an intermediate unit to cater for recovering horses. The tour established that Tremon Stud has stables, wash bays and other infrastructure equal to or better than the majority of studs and clinics.

At the time of the Award, Tremon was embarking on the establishment of a more economic and practical neo-natal stabling system for premature foals. Negotiations had begun for a cost effective Artificial Insemination (A.I.) Stud accommodating performance and standard bred horses.  While Tremon’s care and procedures were well advanced, the range of treatments for wound and laceration care had been greatly expanded.

Sue believes that as a direct result of the study tour, Tremon was better able to provide specialist recuperation facilities and care, to aid in the recovery of a broader range of horses of all breeds. Equally importantly Sue believes Tremon was better able to provide a facility that students at colleges and universities can use to gain practical work placement to enhance their future as veterinary surgeons and nurses.

At a personal level Sue believes the Award and the travel it provided furthered her horse knowledge and skills and networks and given her new found respect amongst her peers and equine industry leaders.  She believes the benefits of her Award will be a cost effective alternative for the recuperation and care of sick and injured horses of all breeds, and as a consequence a greatly improved recovery rate and return of horses to their previous careers.

2005 Queensland Winner - Anne Osborne

Australian Native Products-Raising Domestic Market Awareness & Demand

At the time of the Award, Anne Osborne was Director of ‘Boofanugs’ a native Australian retail distribution business and Executive Director of Q Invest, a Queensland based financial services business.

“Boofanugs’ produces and value adds an extensive range of native food products and specializes in the sale of gift boxes for the corporate and conference sector.  Anne is also the founding member of the Queensland Bushfood Association and was responsible for the writing of its constitution and the development of its website.

Her vision was to drive the native food industry to become recognized as a commercially viable and mainstream agricultural industry, by gaining widespread acceptance by consumers both in Australia and overseas.

While native foods are growing in demand and the industry is worth an estimated $14 million annually, the domestic market is floundering due to lack of demand and significant supply chain problems, and its export potential yet to be realised due to its inability to guarantee regular supplies of high quality produce.

Anne’s objectives were to provide Australian native plant industry participants, with an understanding of existing awareness among domestic consumers, reasons for the lack of demand and answers to increasing awareness for products, thereby enabling industry participants to develop strategies to increase domestic demand for products.  The three main elements of the project were:

  • Measurement and determination of the pre-existing awareness of Australian native based produce and products.
  • Gaining an improved understanding of the demand drivers for such produce and products.
  • Developing strategies for her business and the broader industry to exploit opportunities identified.

Anne with the support of a specialist market researcher set about identifying the major demand drivers for Australian native based products in the domestic Australian consumer market.  Research was conducted through an online survey of some 250 Australian consumers in five capital cities. The survey quota mirrored the distribution of grocery buyers in Australia with 75% representation from females and 25% from males.  The research concluded that in relation to the domestic consumer market for Australian native products:

  • There is limited awareness of what an Australian native product is.
  • The most significant barriers to sale are lack of awareness followed by perceived cost.
  • An overwhelming majority of respondents would prefer to purchase products in supermarkets and be educated at the point of purchase.
  • Once educated, appeal to the domestic consumer is very strong with 62% of respondents indicating that they are quite or very appealing and only 9% indicating they are of no appeal.
  • Ancillary Research of industry participants perceptions of the drivers and barriers to the purchasing Australian native products, suggested that industry perceptions of where domestic consumers look for products and information does not match the perceptions of the market.

Anne believed the implications of her project for her industry will be quite significant. She believed that the research is invaluable in that it confirms a definite purchasing interest amongst the domestic consumer market across Australia.

It confirmed supermarkets as the preferred purchase location, that price is important and that prices currently charged by some domestic participants are not sustainable. It also confirmed that current perceptions by industry participants are contrary to those of domestic consumers, and as a result has better informed industry of consumer expectations and needs.

The information learned from the research was disseminated to industry participants and was made available on her website to the broader industry. Anne was instrumental in assisting with the establishment of the first national representative body for Australian native produce and products, which was expected to become the industry’s peak representative body.

South Australian Winner 2005 - Lisa Rowntree

Lisa Rowntree is one of the Australian olive industry’s emerging leaders. She served as President of Olives South Australia for four years and as Director on the Board of the Australian Olive Association, also for four years, as well as Editor of the Olive Tree, the official newsletter of the South Australian olive industry. At the time of the Award, Lisa was chairing an industry steering committee investigating the restructure of the national industry.

Her vision is to see Australia recognized domestically and internationally as a producer of high quality extra virgin olive oil and olive products.  She believes that marketing difficulties confronting Australian olive growers means that many will not be able to sell their product domestically, and so will be forced to sell product overseas.

Lisa believes a marketing and distribution cooperative will become increasingly crucial for South Australian growers, in terms of achieving economies of scale and the assured quality and quantity of supply and brand power to compete in both the international and domestic arena.  Her project looked at the process of progressing a South Australian Olive Oil brand by:

  • Enhancing the reputation of the Australian olive oil industry.
  • Educating consumers on the benefits and uses of Australian olive oil.
  • Developing a sustainable international market for Australian olive oil.
  • Developing a production and marketing cooperative to meet the demands of such a brand.

In exploring the successes and failures of other production and marketing cooperatives, Lisa met with representatives from the Batlow Fruit Cooperative in NSW. The Cooperative is recognized as one of the largest storage and packing operations in Australia, packing approximately one million cases of apples every year for a total pool of 75 growers. The discussions were useful in exposing her to the issues that cooperatives face when dealing with a large number of smaller growers.

Lisa used the bursary to travel to New York to visit the 2006 Fancy Food Show, to investigate the competition and to search out ideas for getting their products profiled and noticed against the myriad of competing ones.

She had originally planned to travel to Hong Kong to meet with potential distributors, however it was decided that the United States, a country with a similar banking system and approach to business, would be a more valuable trip. Lisa made close to 50 contacts at the Show, from which five have proved worthwhile. She returned to the US six months later to forge relationships with two contacts, along with a San Francisco based olive oil importer. She returned again to the US to attend the 2007 Fancy Food Show and made contact with a Texan importer who she supplied bottled product to.

Information and contacts collected have proved important in the development of the Joint Marketing Venture. 25 growers registered interest in being part of the venture, which has resulted in the establishment of a JMV Steering Committee. The Steering Committee was broken into two  sub-committees, one to focus on the ‘structure’ of the venture and the other to work on marketing with a view to exhibiting at international trade shows.

The Joint Marketing Venture’s marketing strategy is to focus on countries with similar banking structures and who communicate in English. The Free Trade Agreement with the United States in lifting import tariffs has made it the most attractive export market. The group’s objective was to exhibit at the 2007 Winter Fancy Food Fair in San Francisco in January 2007, the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago in May 2007 and the Summer Fancy Food Show in July 2007. In the first instance they planned to take some of the smaller and medium growers with existing labels, and expand from there.

Lisa believed the benefits of a JMV to the South Australian industry would be enormous, in that it would help smaller to medium size growers become more competitive and cooperative in working together to solve industry challenges. The Venture also proved promising in securing some economies of scale from processing and harvesting contractors, not achievable by individual growers.  Lisa also believes a South Australian brand or brands of extra virgin olive oil will enable the industry to compete at the international level. It would give the marketing cooperative a brand upon which to be recognized and to ensure quantity and quality of supply. It would also allow other state organizations to use the research and development information gathered to increase the presence of the total industry internationally.

At a personal level, winning the Award grew Lisa’s confidence to achieve her ambitions, to present and speak at numerous public events, in turn allowing her to further promote and profile her industry and the work of rural women.

The Award afforded her opportunities to meet valuable contacts. The Australian Institute of Company Directors course while challenging, forced her to push herself on many different levels and to become more aware of the issues in her Director roles.

2005 Western Australian Winner - Maureen Dobra

Sustainable Horticulture

At the time of the Award, Maureen Dobra was Executive Director of The Loose Leaf Lettuce Company, a horticultural business that employs over 30 staff and produces a range of over 26 varieties of fresh cut lettuce, herbs and salad vegetables.  Maureen was Vice President of Vegetables WA and Chairperson of the Gingin Telecentre.

She was also a member of the Western Australian Vegetable Networking Committee and of the Ausveg National Research and Development Committee.

Her vision is to see all agricultural industries develop a strong environmental conscience through the smarter use of waste water, green manure and more natural fertilizers and pesticides.

Maureen believes the intense nature of horticultural crops requires strict land management controls and smarter use of water and additives, if the industry is to remain sustainable for future generations.  Her activity involved travel to New Zealand, France and Holland to observe the growing conditions, the management practices and environmental constraints applied to their horticultural industries. Her objectives were to visit and talk to overseas growers and processors of the fresh cut industry to compare practices, to set up a network of horticultural growers within her region and to share knowledge and promote her industry through the establishment of a webpage specifically for the region’s growers.

New Zealand has become a major producer of fresh-cut salads and vegetables, while France is the home of the ‘mesculun’ mixed salads and Holland is recognized as the world leader in the production of seeds.  In New Zealand, Maureen found wind to be a major production issue requiring hedges to be planted around many farms to prevent soil erosion. She also found right to farm and issues associated with the urbanization of rural areas to be an increasing burden, requiring of farmers to meet certain local shire council obligations, covering neighbours and noise pollution and chemical applications.

She also found common issues between the two countries in keeping abreast with quality assurance, health and safety requirements and in staff employment and retention. Maureen met with a hydroponics grower who was successfully recycling water onto trees on his farms and visited a machinery company that was manufacturing innovative seeding and harvesting implements.

In France, Maureen observed green manure successfully growing side by side with vegetable and cereal crops. She also found that horticultural growers and processors in France had access to a much larger labour force due to their proximity to many other countries.  And in Holland she was able to observe seed production in detail, including seed selection for specific climatic conditions, growing times and cycles of the year, to various seed coatings with fungicides and insecticides.

Maureen believes the trip was extremely valuable, not only for her own business but for her industry in Western Australia. She commenced work on her website for her regions growers, www.gingingrowers.com, with the webpage expected to be completed in 2007.

She also put some time into sharing new growing and processing techniques learned from her overseas travel with her network of horticultural growers and grower groups. She also believes this information will enable her to become one of the leading producers of fresh-cut salad vegetables for the Western Australian market.

2005 Tasmania Winner - Amanda Way

The Tasmanian Rock Lobster Industry:-New Opportunities

Amanda Way is Principal of Clearwater Fisheries a southern rock lobster production operation based off the southern coast of Tasmania.  The southern rock lobster industry’s heavy dependence on export and the resultant seasonality of prices, encouraged Amanda to seek out alternate marketing avenues for seafood, including the highly successful direct sales from boat to the public at the Margate wharf.

Amanda’s vision is to see the Tasmanian rock lobster industry, through astute diversification and value adding into new markets, reach the point of becoming a price maker not taker.  Her activity involved collecting information from rock lobster industries both within Australia and overseas, for her own purposes and for the education of local and Australian seafood consumers.

The Seafood Directions Conference in Sydney in September 2005 proved a valuable networking and information gathering exercise and highlighted to Amanda the fragmented nature of the Australian industry.

Her study tour to Western Australia, the country’s largest rock lobster industry, proved valuable in exposing her to new and innovative ways of marketing and in providing her with new contacts. Her study tour to New Zealand revealed a very different industry with stricter environmental and catch controls and exposed her to new methods of promoting the product and educating the general public.

The major outcome from the study tours was Lobster Direct, an online direct marketing venture that officially went online on 4 November 2005. (www.lobsterdirect.com.au). Lobster Direct is the only online gourmet lobster outlet in Australia, marketing fresh cooked Tasmanian lobster via Australian Post Overnight Express Post to the world.

Lobster Direct was the end result of many months of trial and error, with packaging and temperature control and researching the best mode of transport and delivery of lobster product across the country. Amanda believes that direct marketing, with more time and exposure, will prove itself to be an extremely powerful and efficient marketing vehicle for the industry.

Amanda was invited to coordinate the Wooden Boat Festival in February 2007. She took on the position of Coordinator of the Tasmania Sea Taste and has been invited onto the board of the Tasmanian Fishing Industry Council. She was asked to be part of the Student Representative Councils with Tasmania for motivational speaking.

She believes the Award has been critical to her achieving her goals of opening up new markets for the industry and helping change the public perception of the industry and its professional fishermen. She also believes that there are great opportunities, particularly through the Student Representative Councils to pass on knowledge and encouragement to our youth.  Amanda was announced as a finalist in the 2006 Telstra Business Women’s Awards-Innovation Award.

2005 Northern Territory Winner - Ann Palmer

Crocodile Industry, Markets and Development

Ann Palmer is one of only a handful of women working in the crocodile industry in Australia and the only woman in the Northern Territory to have held a managerial position. She had previously held the position of Manager of the Territory’s first commercial crocodile farm; a position she held for over ten years.  Ann’s vision is to have the Northern Territory crocodile industry recognized internationally as one that is efficient and sustainable and that has the ability to become a significant supplier of crocodile products to the world.

The crocodile industry internationally is driven by demand for skins, and while Australian farms are currently enjoying good demand for skins, the market is extremely tough with strong competition from major players such as Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea, and Australia producing only one percent of the total global market.

With skin buyers increasingly selective, and with rising fuels costs, a fluctuating US dollar and increasing occupational health and safety considerations, margins for Australian crocodile farmers are becoming increasingly tight, making the sale of meat and by-products very important to overall profitability.  The principle objectives of Ann’s proposed activity were:

  • To identify marketing opportunities for crocodile meat and by-products, such as fat, internal organs, skulls and feet, with the aim of increasing the value of a finished crocodile and reducing waste disposal.
  • To research different farming practices, with the aim of improving animal welfare, worker safety and commercial production.

Ann organised through Austrade an extensive desk-top search for countries already consuming crocodile flesh, both from Australia and from overseas. The desk-top search investigated critical issues including market structure, the distribution chain, tariffs and import regulations, product requirements and potential customers.

The Netherlands and Japan were highlighted as the two most promising markets, with a small list of potential customers established for both markets. While the Netherlands buyers expressed interest in a variety of cuts, Japanese buyers were interested only in prime tail fillets and in limited quantities only. Samples of product were prepared for the Netherlands market and export of commercial shipments was anticipated.

A search for markets for by-products proved not entirely successful. Expressions of interest from Japan were made for crocodile penis and samples were delivered however feedback was very limited. It appears there is a market for by-products however more work is required to ensure processing and packaging is suitable to the customer.

Ann visited several crocodile farms across the eastern seaboard to gain a better insight into the different farming practices employed within the domestic industry. She found a large variation in farming practices, with farms tending to specialize in different segments of the industry, often according to their location.

Anne believed that it was probable that several export markets will successfully develop out of her project. She found that identifying the markets and establishing relationships with potential customers to the point of sample stage was an extremely time consuming but critical process, and that once a market is established it must be nurtured or run the risk of losing it to an overseas supplier.

She also found that while there are markets for by products such as teeth, skulls, and internal organs, very few customers are able to take large quantities of the unprocessed product. On a personal level, Ann enrolled in a leadership seminar for managers through Skillpath, which targeted organisational skills, communication and effective workplace habits. The program helped her better organise her time and impressed upon her the importance of training her staff to enable them to work competently and without supervision.