Rural Funds Group’s contribution to the global food system

Agricultural produce sourced from properties owned by Rural Funds Group (ASX: RFF) is finding its way onto dinner tables around the world thanks to an increasingly globalised food system. RFF owns properties that produce an array of soft commodities, including almonds, beef, and grapes, much of it destined for burgeoning offshore markets.

The globalised nature of today’s food market has been highlighted by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which notes that more nations are dependent on agricultural imports today than was the case 20 years ago.[1]

RFF’s lessees, which include the Australian Agricultural Company, Select Harvests, Olam Orchards Australia and Treasury Wine Estates, are tapping into this demand and seeking to explore new markets for home grown produce.

The following is a snapshot showing how RFF lessees, and their parent entities, are contributing to the global food system either by supplying commodities in their raw form to manufacturers, or via their own brands:

Almonds

Australia has become the world’s second largest almond producer in recent years thanks to its combination of hot, arid summers and it’s sophisticated irrigation system. RFF has played a key role in the development of this market, developing four almond orchards representing just over 10 per cent of Australia’s total almond orchard area. These properties, which are located near Hillston and Darlington Point in NSW, includes lessees Olam Orchards Australia, a subsidiary of the world’s largest almond producer, Olam International, and Select Harvests Ltd, Australia’s biggest vertically integrated nut and health food company. Much of the almonds produced on these properties are destined for overseas markets, with Select Harvests exporting 70-80 per cent of its produce and Olam distributing to global customers.

Cattle

Australia is the world’s third largest exporter of beef, with its biggest customer base in Asia, North America and parts of Europe. RFF participates in this core agricultural sector through its ownership of 15 cattle properties spanning more than 665,000 hectares, and five feedlots.

The majority of RFF’s cattle properties are located in Queensland. These properties include Rewan, located near Rolleston in central Queensland and leased to Australian Agricultural Company, the country’s largest integrated cattle and beef producer. A significant portion of the cattle raised on RFF properties, including Rewan, are producing highly sought after Wagyu beef, much of it destined for food service, retail and wholesale markets around the world. Stone Axe Pastoral Company, which leases 6 properties from RFF is another Wagyu producer, exporting to China, Hong Kong, South East Asia and the Middle East. Meanwhile, RFF’s five feedlots are leased to JBS Australia, the country’s largest domestic meat processor and owned by the world’s largest processor JBS SA with a global distribution network.

Vineyards

RFF owns seven vineyards, all of which are leased to Treasury Wine Estates, one of the world’s largest wine companies and the name behind iconic brands such as Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Wynns and Lindeman’s. Australian wine is a significant export, with Australia shipping $2.9 billion of wine offshore, produced from 150,000 hectares of vines.

RFF’s vineyards, mainly planted with Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties, are located in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills and Coonawarra regions and in the Grampians in Victoria. These vineyards produce grapes that supply a range of Treasury’s wines, which are sold into more than 70 countries worldwide.

Tim Sheridan, RFM Chief Operating Officer commented, “while RFF is simply a landlord of agricultural properties – the produce that is grown on these farms is produced by some of the largest agricultural enterprises in Australia and distributed throughout the world, highlighting RFF’s contribution to the global food system”.

The table and map below shows the location and number of properties leased by the RFF corporate lessees mentioned above.

To read more about RFF’s participation in the global food system click here to see RFMs latest newsletter.

[1] “The world’s food system has so far weathered the challenge of covid-19”, The Economist, 9th May 2020