Thornby Premium Lamb has diversified its business model by entering the export market for the first time with its self-branded lamb products.
Thornby Premium Lamb products, including retail and consumer-ready packs, hit Japan in July this year, with plans also underway to target the Chinese market.
The longstanding family business is run by Paul McGorman, his brother Alex and father John who operate the family farm at Sanderston on the outskirts of the Murray Mallee.
Paul McGorman says the family farm supplied to wholesale markets before making the decision to value-add to the business by launching their own premium meat brand, now spotted in butchers and restaurants across SA and interstate.
“We have always been big on diversification,” Mr McGorman said..
“While we sell our own branded product in Adelaide and Melbourne butchers and restaurants, we’re very excited by our first export to Japan this year.
“We’re taking full control and we’re also looking actively into the Chinese market – we’re going to a trade show in Shanghai in November.”
Paul says the decision to branch out from the farm’s traditional ties to the saleyard market was spurred after Thornby snagged the title of Australia’s Best Lamb at Lambex in 2014.
“We always thought that one day we’d have our own premium branded products and after winning a few awards we decided it was time to put our lamb out there,” he said.
About 6000 lambs are bred at Thornby’s Kangaroo Island property, where they are raised until they reach weaning at about six months of age.
They are then brought to the Thornby feedlot at Sanderston where they are fed a grain-based diet for about 10 weeks before reaching the end stage of production.
The McGormans crop about 2400ha per year of wheat, barley and hay to feed the livestock. They also practice in wool production.
“With our self-feeders, the lambs can access high-quality grain 24/7 and there is plenty of room for them to roam naturally.
“They therefore grow at a faster rate because they’re eating a good quality diet and not having to forage for grass all day long. You end up with produce that is tender, with a milder flavour.”