Chinese retailing giant the Dashang Group has snapped up one of Australia’s oldest herds of Wagyu cattle and a second highly productive farm in the prestigious upper Hunter Valley.
In a deal understood to be valued at between $12 million and $20m, the Australian cattle farming and trading arm of north China-based Dashang, Australia Aulong Auniu Wang (AAAW), yesterday announced its purchase of the prized 1100-head Kuro Kin (Black Gold) Wagyu herd owned by the Bishop family near Scone.
AAAW managing director Michael Wang said the Kuro Kin herd, especially its elite full-blood Wagyu bulls, and the 3500ha of rolling hills of the Bishop’s Wooton farm represented some of the “best performing Wagyu genetics” outside Japan.
AAAW last year outlaid about $45m on nearby 30,000ha Glenrock Station, next door to the Packer family’s luxury Ellerston estate with its golf course and polo fields, and has since stocked the magnificent property with more than 5000 Angus cattle.
In a full paddock-to-plate supply chain system, AAAW intends to breed Wagyu and Angus cattle on its own Australian farms to be sold as Australian-branded beef in its own supermarkets, department stores and specialist AAAW beef retail shops, the first such dedicated Australian beef outlets in China.
Mr Wang said most of the young cattle bred in the Hunter Valley would be shipped live to China where the Dashang Group owns a monopoly licence to export live cattle into the northern port city of Dalian, near the North Korean border, where its 300-department store empire spread across 150 cities is based.
It is understood Foreign Investment Review Board approval has already been given for Dashang’s purchase of Kuro Kin Wagyu, which settled yesterday.
The little-known Dashang-AAAW group — “our profile here doesn’t match [our size],’’ said Mr Wang — also owns Clear Hills station near Canberra and has secured a 15 per cent stake in listed Beston Food Group.
The Dashang group, which is listed on the Chinese stock exchange with a turnover of more than $6.5 billion, is majority-owned by chairman Gang Nui.
Mr Wang said AAAW differs from other companies buying cattle farms in Australia because it has a direct supply chain through to its up-market departments stores, supermarkets and Australian beef shops.
“Our ultimate goal is to breed our own cattle on our own properties in Australia and to export them live back to China where they will be killed and sold in our own stores,” Mr Wang said.
In a country such as China where food security, safety and provenance are the top priorities of consumers, Mr Wang said all of AAAW’s beef would be clean, produced on its own farms and fully traceable back to the paddock.
It is also the only Chinese company investing in live cattle exports and beef farming in Australia that directly owns its own sales network and supermarkets.
“We will focus on Angus first because Chinese consumers are a very brand-driven society and everyone knows the Angus brand,” Mr Wang said.
Peter Bishop, whose family started breeding Wagyu 20 years ago on its farm near Scone, will remain manager of the Koru Kin wagyu herd.