Posts Tagged ‘AFFCO’

Meat exports sold to more than 100 countries

May 30, 2017

New Zealand’s meat exporters come in for a lot of criticism, either for selling too cheaply or for not adding value, and certainly because they can’t (or don’t) pay farmers enough for their livestock. This final criticism is presumably a direct result of the first two – the prosecution’s case argues if they sold product at a higher price or added more value, they would automatically be able to pay more for livestock. (more…)

Objective carcase measurement – essential or just nice to have

April 5, 2017

Objective carcase management (OCM) appears to be the holy grail for Meat and Livestock Australia judging by its plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to fund the installation of Dual Energy X-ray 3D carcase grading technology (DEXA) in up to 90 slaughterhouses, intended to roll out this year. The loan would be repaid from industry levies, although there are no firm details yet about how the costs would be shared. (more…)

Red Meat Story about more than brand image

February 22, 2017

There has been a great deal of progress towards the development of the New Zealand Red Meat Story, but most of it has been happening under the radar. That is all about to change. B+LNZ is holding a workshop on 1st and 2nd March at which a wide group of industry participants – farmers, government, processors and exporters – will gather to start formulating the detail of the story, assisted by a strong line-up of guest speakers with international experience in brand development. (more…)

Heavy market share losses affect Silver Fern Farms’ financial performance

January 26, 2017

In recent weeks there has been an exchange of views about PPCS’s acrimonious takeover of Richmond in 2003. Keith Cooper, ex CEO of the renamed Silver Fern Farms, emerged from anonymity in Middlemarch to castigate the appointment of Sam Robinson to the board of Silver Fern Farms as the Shanghai Maling representative. He was critical of Richmond’s rejection of the original approach by PPCS to buy the Freesia Investments shares from the Meat Board in the mid-1990s and Robinson’s role as Richmond’s chairman. (more…)

Address to MIRINZ workshop – How and why research is important for the future

March 19, 2016
  1. Themes

 

The three main themes for this workshop are:

 

  1. Added value products focusing on key points of differentiation in NZ meat products with a research emphasis on credible health and nutritional benefits.
  2. Value from quality – research outcomes that will enable the red meat sector to meet increasing demand for high value premium meat products in existing and new markets.
  • Provenance and food assurance – research from fork to farm to ensure that exports are safe, of superior quality with defendable provenance and attractive to consumers.

(more…)

Research is critical to future prosperity

March 16, 2016

By the time most of you read this, I will have delivered an address to a Meat Industry Research workshop at Ruakura. Preparation for this has severely taxed my knowledge of research directed at the future prosperity of the red meat sector. Depending on the reaction to my presentation, I will almost certainly find out whether or not I have succeeded in talking sense and, more important, introducing some relevant fresh ideas to the audience of scientists and people with infinitely greater technical credentials than I. (more…)

Quota allocations suggest change in balance of industry power

February 3, 2016

The release of the 2016 quota allocation which Alan Williams analysed in detail (Farmers Weekly 11th January) show some considerable shifts in tonnage entitlements between the major meat exporters. The quota is allocated as a percentage of the total allowable quota for shipment to the EU for sheepmeat and USA for beef during a calendar year; in the last two years New Zealand has only filled around 75% of the EU quota and 90% and 98% of the USA beef quota. (more…)

Independent report and road show fail to satisfy all Silver Fern shareholders

October 14, 2015

In spite of apparently solid support for the Shanghai Maling deal at the road show meetings, there are a number of long-term shareholders in the far south who feel let down and ripped off by the company’s determination to sell 50% of their cooperative.

 

Their displeasure has two main causes, one historical and the other current: the historical reason is the company’s departure from cooperative principles after the Richmond takeover; the more current reason is based on a belief there should be no need to commit to a partnership which sacrifices control of the cooperative. However one could argue control has long gone, with present controllers the banks being replaced by a Chinese meat company.

 

There is nothing now to be done about the Richmond takeover which was characterised by acrimony on both sides, as well as the substantial debt burden it imposed on PPCS which had been a successful business for over 50 years. These shareholders feel the company could have raised all the capital it needed, if it had insisted on new suppliers becoming shareholders; but because of the threat of a supplier exodus, PPCS decided to retain supply by accepting livestock from non shareholders.

 

This was an inevitable decision in the very different North Island climate and that horse has long since bolted. AFFCO’s status as a cooperative in anything but name had long disappeared before its capital restructuring in the mid 1990s.

 

The justification for selling half the operating business, including processing assets, brands, intellectual property and production supplied by the cooperative, can be found in the Notice of Meeting sent to shareholders and available on the SFF website. The attached Grant Samuel Independent Report contains essentially the same information as the Notice of Meeting which is logical, as much of Grant Samuel’s information came from discussions with company management and directors.

 

This is probably inevitable, but it raises the question whether an independent report, produced on behalf of and in consultation with a company, can ever be truly independent. The strong probability must be the conclusion will always corroborate the client’s preferred course of action, provided it makes sense.

 

That said, the partnership with Shanghai Maling appears to be an offer which ticks many boxes which are beneficial to SFF and, it could be said, its suppliers. Shareholders will receive a 30 cent a share dividend, having received no dividends and seen the value of their shares fall to 35% of par value; they are also virtually guaranteed to be paid a competitive price for their livestock and dividends in future. The company will be debt free and, in chairman Rob Hewett’s words, the value add ‘plate to pasture’ strategy will gain a turbo charge.

 

The key conclusion in the Grant Samuel report is the following excerpt which states “As a result of an improved financial performance and other strategic initiatives SFF Co-Op has achieved a degree of deleveraging over the last two years and it is arguable that given

time it will be able to achieve a more conservative capital structure without the need for new capital. Nevertheless, the Proposed Transaction achieves the recapitalisation, removes uncertainty, creates new opportunities for growth and is strongly supported by the Board of SFF Co-Op and the Banking Syndicate.”

 

The removal of the uncertainty that has bedeviled the company for several years and the unwillingness of at least some of the banking syndicate to extend facilities beyond the end of this month without a firm, bankable proposal are two very good reasons for accepting the deal.

 

In time the company will be able to transition to its intended supplier remuneration policy of rewarding suppliers for their ability to comply with market specifications. But first there must be a serious review of processing facilities and tough decisions about plant upgrades or closures, because SFF has more capacity than any of its competitors, quite a lot of it less efficient. The recapitalisation will enable this to occur without having to go cap in hand to the banks.

 

For suppliers who support the partnership proposal, the important points are survival of the company, certainty of payment and possibly belief in Shanghai Maling’s ability to enhance the returns from the ‘pasture to plate’ strategy without keeping all the additional profit for itself. Conversely the objectors believe SFF has departed irrevocably from its cooperative principles and should have been able to find alternative capital without selling half the business, while Shanghai Maling will take all the upstream margin.

 

At this stage it is impossible to predict whether, and for how long, Shanghai Maling will be content to remain in a true 50/50 partnership which is a notoriously troublesome business form. History suggests it won’t last this way for ever because, in a joint venture, one partner generally ends up screwing the other. Inevitably it will be the stronger partner that finishes on top and there are no prizes for guessing the outcome here.

 

Unfortunately those suppliers mourning the structural and philosophical change to their cooperative will have to face the reality of the financial position which SFF was faced with and the board has been compelled to resolve the best way it could. That’s what boards are meant to do. Equally, unhappy shareholders also have a choice and can look at the obvious alternative.

 

In proposing the deal with Shanghai Maling, SFF’s board has made a judgement call between the lesser of two evils: it has chosen the financial certainty of new capital in exchange for half the business, believing this to be preferable to the risk of losing supply from disaffected shareholders. The amount of time it took to come up with this solution suggests the board must believe it had no choice in the end.

Cooperatives and private companies work best in agriculture

September 14, 2015

Good company performance demands clarity of purpose which is defined and monitored by a board of directors elected or appointed by the shareholders. There are five main types of company ownership structure that are or have been represented in New Zealand’s agricultural sector and each has advantages and disadvantages. (more…)

Longer season and drought affect Silver Ferns’ banking headroom

July 3, 2015

Silver Fern Farms have been forced to take what CEO Dean Hamilton calls a prudent approach to livestock procurement. This is code for being hard up against the company’s banking facility, directly as a result of greater livestock availability. A longer season in the North Island and pressure from drought in North Canterbury are responsible for this situation. (more…)