Report Synopsis

The Business of Branded Beef. Examining the intersection of value chain collaboration, provenance, and distributed ledger technology for the Australian beef industry

Sonya Comiskey

Successful brand owners around the world were interviewed during this project to examine the factors which affect aspects of the agri-food value chain relatable to branded beef production in Australia. This research identified opportunities for individual business, as well as across industries.

The key findings observed for collaborative value chains focused on the importance of interpersonal collaboration to counter a generally low level of contractual rigor in the value chain.  Value chains are significantly limited by the restriction placed on the availability of service processing capacity by the market power of conglomerates, often multi-national processors.
Other interviews indicated that defining ‘what is value’ is critical and needs to be adequately resourced as part of the business. The need to integrate customer-led design as a method of creating unique experiences for customers were also significant observations.

Globally there was little in-depth understanding, and adoption of, distributed ledger technology.  However, there is a recognised need to invest in exploring which applications, built on a distributed ledger technology platforms, will add value to the branded beef business by reducing risk and increasing collaboration and trust to capture premiums across the product range.

This report is targeted at beef producers, branded beef owners, industry and government.  The report did not consider non-food products such as hides and other by-products, however, these findings can mostly be applied to other proteins and commodities where the potential to brand a product is a possibility.

The major conclusions are that:

  1. Reliable access to service processing needs to be established in strategic locations as this is the single greatest barrier to entry and blockage for the development of producer-led beef brands in Australia, particularly Queensland.
  2. Producers should assess business risk in terms of how much they are leveraged into single or limited markets, and immediately examine the potential for branded beef program development. There is a need to invest in the cultivation of mutually beneficial relationships to identify and establish opportunities for collaboration across the value chain. 
  3. Experiences should be incorporated to create an emotional connection with branded beef programs: explore the adoption of immersive technology and to develop physical visitor infrastructure.
  4. Distributed Ledger Technology should be trialled for adoption to credential beef brand provenance value through a system of trust. By utilising technology such as Blockchain, producers and suppliers could investigate how to prove to consumers that there is a verified value chain, from quality to country of origin, that facilitates trust and provides a foundation for a new premium product.
  5. Value should be placed on a ‘small giant’ philosophy: it is not necessary to ‘go big to be great’.  Producers can be small and top shelf, running profitable and personally satisfying branded beef businesses. Scale does not inevitably equal success. 

The results of this study demonstrate it is possible to have a successful, profitable and sustainable producer-led branded beef business that delivers personal satisfaction through brand value, customer and value chain engagement and returns a premium for the perceived value to the market.

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