Local beef a Kimberley first
Kimberley cattle producer Jack Burton. Picture: Flip Prior/The West Australian

Pastoralists who failed to diversify would have a “rocky road” ahead, Kimberley cattle producer Jack Burton said today, as he opened the doors to his brand-new retail outlet in Broome.

His butcher, Yeeda Kimberley Free Range Beef, comes hot on the heels of Mr Burton’s announcement this week that he will open the region’s first domestic abattoir since 2004 with equity partners Kimberley Pastoral Investments.

Describing his domestic beef product as “clean and green”, Mr Burton said he was not expecting to conquer the top end of the domestic market.

While the majority of Yeeda’s beef would be manufacturing grade for the export market, the best produce would be reserved for local sales.

“It’s definitely not an Angus fillet – we’re not trying to compete with that sort of thing,” Mr Burton said.

He said ironically, although the Kimberley was the centre of WA beef production WA, people couldn’t buy local product in the north.

“It’s at that point in time where we got off our backsides and opened up so everyone can have a crack at some proper Kimberley beef,” he said.

“We’ve basically got it to a point now where we’ve got a product and we’re confident with its quality.”

About three months ago, Yeeda started trialling the beef in an unlikely location: the Willare Roadhouse, 50km from Derby and 165km from Broome along the Great Northern Highway.

“We’ve just been blown away by how popular it is and the feedback that we’re getting … about the quality, tenderness and taste,” Mr Burton said.

The meat is processed and packaged in Gingin; once a second, smaller abattoir opens at Yeeda’s Kilto Station, 60km from Broome, production will move.

The butcher will also sell lamb and goat meat from Burton’s properties in the south.

Mr Burton said with the pastoral industry still under pressure after last year’s live export ban, creating new markets would reduce reliance on putting cattle on boats.

However, he expected his new abattoir to secure the future of the live export industry.

“If people know they can sell 100 per cent of the product they grow, they can be a lot more viable,” he said.

“By having somewhere to go with the non live export animals, it basically secures the pastoral industry going forward. It will be great for us, great for everyone.”

Having won support from the State Government, construction on the new $20 million abattoir will start this week amid expectations it will process up to 60,000 head of cattle a year by 2014.

The West Australian

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