WA potential backs China supply vision

Chen Xibin has come a long way for a man who started his career selling meat from the back of a bicycle around the streets of Harbin in northern China.

He now runs Grand Farm, one of China's biggest importers of red meat and a com- pany with a vast array of farms, feedlots, abattoir and a nationwide distribution network supplying thousands of supermarkets, restaurants and butcher shops.

Mr Chen said it was his bond with Busselton brothers Greg and Peter Walsh, who own and operate meat processor V&V Walsh, that opened his eyes to WA and its farming potential.

It also helps to have the brothers watching his back while Grand Farm invests in dramatically boosting lamb and beef supply out of WA.

Mr Chen has a history of investing in WA, joining forces with Peter Walsh in award-winning Amelia Park Wines.

The new $10 million winery they are building on the former Moss Brothers site on Caves Road to boost production is due for completion by Christmas.

Mr Walsh's other interests include racehorses and on Saturday night Mr Chen and his entourage were guests of honour at the WA Racehorse Owners' Association awards at the Hyatt, where the ballroom was decorated with a replica terracotta warrior as part of a Chinese Year of the Horse theme. Mr Chen paid $10,500 for a piece of Black Caviar memorabilia at auction but his real interest is in sheep and cattle.

Speaking to _WestBusiness _through an interpreter, Mr Chen said he was passionate about agriculture and WA.

"I started coming here 10 years ago and I love this State," he said. "It is rich in agricultural resources, with a good environment and high standards of meat safety. The local farms are great with quality livestock and potential to create more supply."

Mr Chen said local investment was just part of Grand Farm's plan for WA.

"It is not the investment but what we buy from farmers that will help the most," he said. "It will give farmers confidence there is demand so they can increase supply."

The West Australian

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