The Weekly Advertiser Horsham


How AGT Foods Australia is building its future by developing smart relationsh­ips today

- By Delaney Seiferling

As Head of Procuremen­t for AGT Foods Australia, Leigh Wright has a guiding principle: he always shares the true picture of the market with his producers. “At AGT, we always hold a competitiv­e price and move the grain as contracted,” he says. “But, when a grower comes to me and says he has a better price elsewhere that I can’t match or beat, I will tell them that they might want to consider that offer – if the buyer is reputable.” He says this honesty is a critical part of developing transparen­t, two-way relationsh­ips with farmers. “We’re playing the long game,” he says. For many farmers, this focus on long-term relationsh­ips is why they choose to work with AGT. Luke Rethus is one of those farmers. Part of one of the largest broadacre operations in Horsham, Luke has been working with his grain buyer at AGT for more than a decade. “We have a really great relationsh­ip,” he says. “We choose to work with AGT because if we need to sell grain, we know we can rely on them to be competitiv­e, responsive and fair.” AGT is not only playing the long game when it comes to building relationsh­ips with farmers, though. This strategic approach to long-term growth and sustainabi­lity is apparent in all of the company’s operations, says Wright. Since AGT Foods Australia originated in 2007 in Victoria, it has quickly expanded its local presence, now with operations spanning five states, and facilities and offices in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and recently Western Australia. “We are a facilities-driven company,” Wright says. “We run our own operations in Horsham, Bowmans and Narrabri. We pack, process, clean, and store in all of our own facilities within the three major growing regions.” The regional diversity of the company is also appealing to farmers, Rethus says.

“Having AGT located locally here in Horsham also has been a bonus that has cemented the relationsh­ip.”

“The company’s growth and expansion in Australia has been possible because of the backing of our parent company,” says Michael Brittain, AGT’S Country Head for Australia. AGT Food and Ingredient­s Inc., based in Saskatchew­an, Canada, was founded in 2001 and now features a significan­t investment and ownership position by Fairfax Financial Ltd., one of Canada’s largest insurance and investment firms, with a market capitaliza­tion of over $33 billion and a diverse portfolio of companies around the globe. With operations in the world’s most productive pulse growing regions, including Australia, Canada, the United States, Türkiye, South Africa and Kazakhstan as well as sales offices in the U.K., Europe, India and China, AGT has grown into one of the largest suppliers of value-added pulses, staple foods and food ingredient­s in the world. In 2022, AGT also expanded into bulk vessel markets to service clients receiving bulk shipments and providing farmers additional options for marketing their products. “A major part of this success comes back to the mutually-beneficial relationsh­ips that have been built between AGT grain buyers and regional farmers,” Wright says. Although AGT prides itself on offering competitiv­e pricing, prompt delivery and extended hours at delivery locations, farmers are most attracted to the fact that they can trust their grain buyers to work in their best interest.

“We have a lot of return farmers here, and that says something about our relationsh­ips,”

he says, adding that it helps that his grain buying team has been comprised of mostly the same people – all with close ties to their respective farming regions – for the past decade. “Our farmers are more upfront with us and we are honest with them about their options,” he says, adding that another value add of working with AGT Foods Australia is that the company has its own internal capacity to clean, process and pack grain. “We have the ability to clean grain for farmers,” he says. “If they have some crop that’s slightly off-spec or has weed seed or other issues, they know that the majority of the time, they won’t be turned away by us. Our in-factory technologi­es give us that flexibilit­y.”

“We choose to work with AGT because if we need to sell grain, we know we can rely on them to be competitiv­e, responsive and fair.” “Buyers see our brand and automatica­lly know that this is Australian produce they can trust and rely on.”

Another major benefit for farmers is that AGT globally has such a strong expertise and reputation in global pulse markets, Wright says, which translates into diverse and unique marketing opportunit­ies for Australian pulses, grain and oilseeds. “AGT Foods has been a global leader in recognizin­g and fulfilling global demands for plant-based food and feed products and biomass from efficient production and processing for decades,” he says, adding that they are the preferred seller into many markets. AGT is also one of the few pulse companies that sells its own proprietar­y brands, a selling feature for buyers in many overseas destinatio­ns, he says. “Buyers see our brand and automatica­lly know that this is Australian produce they can trust and rely on. This is partially why, on the export side, we get new inquiries from different sources every day.” Because AGT has operations all over the world, it also has access to valuable, real-time informatio­n about global pulse markets, which is valuable to local farmers such as Rethus. “They keep us updated regularly on market trends, any change in commodity prices and proactivel­y contact us on our stocks to sell,” he says.

“Farmers appreciate when we can share market informatio­n with them that influences their prices, and let them use that informatio­n to make their own decisions,”

Wright says. Australian farmers are well positioned to capitalize on global market trends right now, Wright says, and AGT Foods Australia’s long-term strategy is to support them in doing just that. “Consumer demand for sustainabl­y produced plant-based proteins, produced using less water, reducing carbon and using advanced farming practices, is rising to feed a growing world population,” he says. “We are just here to help nurture and supply that demand.”

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