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, 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 him that they might want to consider that offer – if the buyer is reputable,” Mr Wright said.
He said this honesty was a critical part of developing transparent, two-way relationships with farmers.
“We’re playing the long game.”
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 in Victoria’s Wimmera region, Mr Rethus has been working with his grain buyer at AGT for more than a decade.
“We have a really great relationship,” Mr Rethus said.
“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.
Mr Wright said this strategic approach to long-term growth and sustainability is apparent in all of the company’s operations.
Since AGT Foods Australia originated in 2007 in Victoria, it quickly expanded its local presence, and now has 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,” Mr Wright said.
“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.”
Mr Rethus said the regional diversity of the company is also appealing to farmers.
“Having AGT located locally here in Horsham also has been a bonus that has cemented the relationship.”
Backing from Canadian parent
“The company’s growth and expansion in Australia has been possible because of the backing of our parent company,” AGT country head for Australia Michael Brittain said.
AGT Food and Ingredients Inc. is based in Saskatchewan, Canada, and was founded in 2001.
It now features a significant investment and ownership position by Fairfax Financial Ltd, one of Canada’s largest insurance and investment firms, with a market capitalisation of over C$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 US, Türkiye, South Africa and Kazakhstan, as well as sales offices in the UK, Europe, India and China, AGT has grown into one of the world’s largest suppliers of value-added pulses, staple foods and food ingredients.
In 2022, AGT also expanded into bulk vessel markets to service clients receiving bulk shipments, which provides farmers with additional options for marketing their products.
Long-term team of buyers
“A major part of this success comes back to the mutually-beneficial relationships that have been built between AGT grain buyers and regional farmers,” Mr Wright said.
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 said, 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 said, 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.
“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.”
Global experience counts
Mr Wright said another major benefit for farmers is that AGT globally has such a strong expertise and reputation in global pulse markets, which translates into diverse and unique marketing opportunities for Australian pulses, grain and oilseeds.
“AGT Foods has been a global leader in recognising and fulfilling global demands for plant-based food and feed products and biomass from efficient production and processing for decades,” he said, 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, which Mr Wright said is a selling feature for buyers in many overseas destinations.
“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 like Mr Rethus.
“They keep us updated regularly on market trends, and any change in commodity prices, and proactively contact us on our stocks to sell,” Mr Rethus said.
“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,” Mr Wright said.
Australian farmers are well positioned to capitalise on global market trends right now, Mr Wright said, 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.
“We are just here to help nurture and supply that demand.”
Learn more about AGT Foods by contacting Leigh Wright at 0439 459 305 or visit www.agtfoods.com today.
Source: AGT Foods Australia