Josie Angus is no stranger to change.
Her company Signature Beef has been in her family for five generations. Together they’ve powered through droughts, recessions and now a global pandemic by merging a strong tradition in cattle-raising with a culture of innovation.
“People often think innovation involves something in the tech industry, but agriculture has been innovating for thousands of years.
“You need to be innovative to run a cattle business like ours because the industry is constantly changing and so are our customers,” Mrs Angus said.
The Angus Family purchased their first cattle station in 1960, but the Angus Butchery in Bowen was the first investment that helped bring their prime beef to their customer’s doorstep.
“We started thinking of ourselves more as a household name rather than cattle farmers and trading through our own butchery helped bring us closer to that vision,” Mrs Angus said.
About 20 years ago, Josie and her husband Blaire decided to go further by branding their premium range.
Oino Gustus is Signature Beef’s boutique brand which hand selects the top performing cattle and puts them on a longer feeding program.
Alongside their Kimberly Red and Sondella staples, Signature Beef quickly grew into one of Queensland’s most recognisable premium beef brands.
“We now operate four properties along the east coast and export to 30 countries from our head office in Brisbane.
"We sell our premium cuts to some of the world’s top restaurants in France, Denmark and the United Kingdom,” Mrs Angus said.
“Our focus is to take our product to the next level by capturing as much value as possible from each animal.”
Josie and Blair are now moving into the meat processing business with the construction of a $37 million abattoir on their cattle property.
Set to open in 12 months, Josie and Blair began construction of their 200-head-a-day abattoir after a four-year approval process, funding the abattoir with their own savings and a loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
The abattoir will bring meat processing jobs back to outback Queensland, cut hundreds of thousands of dollars in transportation costs and give Josie and Blair better control over the quality of their brand.
At the heart of innovation is asking yourself, “how can we do things better?” The Angus family’s innovative mindset continues to reap the rewards of business growth.
“We’re confident we can increase carcass yields by up to 3 per cent and give the best possible cuts to our customers,” Mrs Angus said.
Signature Beef’s innovative streak doesn’t stop there. The cattle property runs completely off-the-grid by converting waste materials into valuable soil composts and heating their water supply using recycled waste heat.
One of the property’s most energy intensive activities was keeping water temperatures at 90 degrees celsius to help sterilise knives, but a recent partnership with a UK research institute helped them replace heat with a spray steriliser.
“We now use an innovative spray steriliser for our knives, making the job both quicker and more efficient by saving us 94 per cent on energy and water consumption.
“We’re constantly talking to the research community to find ways to improve our business,” Mrs Angus said.
Josie acknowledges the difficulty of running a remote cattle property, but dismisses calls that her cattle stations are in the middle of nowhere by saying her farm is in the “centre of the universe.”
“We’ve learned to be completely self-sufficient which is only possible because we’re constantly looking at ways to improve our energy usage and find value from resources around us.
“Being innovative is something we teach our children and it’s kept our business going for five generations,” Mrs Angus said.