The daughters of Four Daughters, (from left) Molly, Matilda, Bonnie, and Jemima Penfold.
The daughters of Four Daughters, (from left) Molly, Matilda, Bonnie, and Jemima Penfold.

Farming family use export ban to bridge city, country divide

Caught between the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s simmering trade war with China, Western Downs beef exporter Four Daughters has had look locally to sustain its business.

For two years the family operation had shipped boxed beef to customers in Wuhan, with select cuts retained to be sold online in Australia.

As the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wuhan was locked down in December 2019, complicating Four Daughter’s operation.

The second blow came when China started banning beef imports from Australia in May 2020.

“We had a lot of cattle on feed for China, so we had to think outside the box for a possible market for our brand beef,” owner Karen Penfold said.

Four Daughters owners (from left) father Dan Penfold, with daughters Bonnie, Matilda, Jemima and Molly Penfold.
Four Daughters owners (from left) father Dan Penfold, with daughters Bonnie, Matilda, Jemima and Molly Penfold.

With the help of Meat and Livestock Australia, the business worked with Ashton’s Millmerran Abattoir and Queensland Choice Meats in Toowoomba to develop a range of 150-day grain feed, black angus box beef, geared to a family budget.

Customers can order a Pink Beef Box through the family’s website and it is delivered by one of the Penfold family members, who also work on the farm.

While domestic retail sales have only replaced a fraction of the trade lost to COVID and the China ban, Mrs Penfold said they helped carry the business through until it secured new buyers, in Asia and the Middle East.

But importantly it had the added benefit of spreading awareness about where food comes from.

“We have a real passion in connecting with city families and there is no better time than now to share the story of agriculture,” she said.

“Our customers want to know what happens on the farm, they bring their kids to meet us and not only do they meet the farmer, but they meet farmers who are girls.”

Originally published as Farming family use export ban to bridge city, country divide


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