Meet Andrew O’Brien, Chief Commercial Officer at Australian Agricultural Company

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Tell us about your business

Australian Agricultural Company is Australia’s largest integrated beef producer and is the country’s oldest continuously operating company. It was established by Royal Charter in 1824 with a British Parliament Crown Grant of 1,000,000 acres, in what is now the Port Stephens area of New South Wales. AACo has been and achieved many things over that time, but cattle has been part of the fabric of AACo from the beginning.

We’ve drawn on that rich Australian heritage to help make AACo the company it is today. We now manage around 350,000 cattle on 26 stations, farms and feedlots across the state of Queensland, and the Northern Territory in Australia – comprising around 6.4 million hectares of pristine land, roughly 1% of Australia’s land mass. On those properties we produce premium Wagyu and sell the beef to some of the world’s best restaurants and exclusive retailers.

AACo specialises in grain fed beef and Wagyu beef production. In addition to our 26 stations farms and feedlots, our head office is in Brisbane Australia, and we have hubs in the US, South Korea, Europe and of course, Singapore.

What’s your role all about?

AACo has a long supply chain. We manage our cattle from when they are born on our expansive properties, all the way to when the beef ends up on the plate in a restaurant, or on the Butchers shelf. It involves a range of divisions, from breeding and genetics and pastoral operations, through to shipping and logistics and our customer facing teams. As the Chief Commercial Officer, I manage our sales teams and trade marketing staff around the world .  This part of the supply chain is where the rubber hits the road. AACo’s cattle are raised and grown for several years before my team takes over and sells the premium Wagyu to high end restaurants and exclusive retailers around the world. Our pastoral teams create a wonderful Wagyu product, that has unmatched integrity, flavour and tenderness. We consider it a great privilege and responsibility to take that product to chefs in the restaurants here, invite them to try it and teach them the remarkable story about our beef.

What’s the hot topic in your sector right now?

Sustainability is a bit of a buzz word right now, and means many things to different people, but when it comes to beef production, at its core it’s about how we as a company look after the land and animals in our care. It’s a really important issue for our customers and for our organisation. We are concerned about animal welfare, about how we look after our properties and land, and about the environment, because it’s the right thing to do. The issue is taking on greater significance around the world, with more and more people concerned about the food they eat and how their lifestyle impacts the environment. We are constantly improving our practices and putting strategies in place to manage this important area. AACo is Australia’s oldest continuously operating company, with a history stretching back 200 years. We want to ensure it’s around for another 200 years and beyond. By definition we are a sustainable business and we will continue to be.

Why are you a member of AustCham in Singapore?

It’s important that AACo is able to reach out to the business communities in the countries that we are based in and export to, and AustCham gives us that opportunity. AustCham gives us that two way connection from our spiritual home in Australia, to one of our favourite places in Singapore. Staying connected to business and government, being able to understand the issues that could impact our operations, and taking advantage of the opportunities that AustCham presents will help give us the best chance of growing our presence here.

Where are your favourite places to go to relax in Singapore?

That’s a tough one to narrow down as despite COVID life is always super busy, this is my second stint in Singapore, I was here back in 2012 for 5 years and have been back with from the US with the family now for almost 2 years.

As food and wine play a big part of my work and home life you can find me in many of the great restaurants in Singapore, I’m a keen tennis player and compete at the Tanglin Club.

My daughter Ebony is an keen touch rugby player so Sunday mornings are spent at Turf City and my wife has just opened a Body Fit Training studio in Farrer Park which is where I try and get to 5 classes a week.

What are your predictions for the next 12 months?

It’s been a challenging 12 months, with the impact of COVID being felt by companies around the world. Our business has primarily been focused on food service, but that was heavily impacted when restaurants everywhere were shut down as the pandemic took hold. Because of COVID, it’s very hard to predict what the next 12 months will be like but we have developed some great new partnerships with high end food marketplaces that are doing a great job of ensuring the “home chef” can access world class produce like ours and I think this channel will continue to grow. One thing we will be doing is to continue to focus on producing the best premium Wagyu beef for our customers around the world.

 

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Find out more about Australian Agricultural Company here

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AustCham Singapore

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