Hanna Darmody isn’t your typical 23 year old. In between working in her family’s butchery and pastoral holdings businesses (Bungendore Country Butchery), taking on additional vocational learning, being named Monaro Local Woman of the Year and a winner of the 2018 Rural Achievers awards, she still found time to talk to RMM about what it means to be young, female and working within the red meat industry in 2019.

1. Your family’s butchers in Bungendore has an ethos of killing and preparing it’s own meat, in order to support the local supply chain. What has changed in the industry that means butchers are moving away from traditional practices such as these?

What was once a traditional butcher is far from what they are today. Unfortunately, the change in today’s society and their lifestyle sees a change in industry practice. Convenience is the biggest killer in our industry; gone are the days that people made the effort to visit a butcher shop, rather the convenience of a one-stop shop in a franchised supermarket is the easier option.

Unfortunately, the need for breaking your own beef and lamb has diminished as butchers cannot utilize the quantity of meat. This, alongside the forever fluctuating sale yard markets make it challenging to find viability in purchasing full carcasses. Traditional practices also suffer due to the variation in quality of stock, the hardship of turnaround and the constant attempt to eliminate wastage.

This then affects the number of qualified butchers, who have the training and ability to break bodies of beef and lambs as the use of their skills is only required in processing plants. Ultimately this pushes butcher shops to purchase carton products, to reduce labor and costs.

We have created a unique position where we have the ability to endure these challenges by being dynamic in how we use all cuts. The benefit of our practice far outweighs the alternative.

2. You manage the marketing for the butchery. Do you have any tips for marketing small, local businesses?

The key to marketing small local businesses is understanding your point of difference. You need to identify and be proud of how you are different and use this to your advantage. Having this approach motivates customers to have the same perception as you for the business, generating a conscious decision to shop local. It is important to use the likes of social media and other promotional materials to reach out to customers, ensuring you are in the forefront of consumers’ minds.

3. How do you think further education on the Paddock to Plate philosophy will help the red meat industry to thrive? 

Education is the key to a successful future in the red meat industry. If we can encourage consumers to understand the importance of the supply chain, hand in hand with the Paddock to Plate philosophy, I feel we have the potential to grow as an industry.

Paddock to Plate philosophy goes well beyond knowing the origin of the product, it’s about reducing food miles, providing traceability and accountability for the consumer and exhibiting the supply chain. To thrive as an industry means educating people on the actual philosophy to empower the integrity of our red meat.

4. As one of 8 Achievers in the 2018 Rural Achievers Awards, you’ve enjoyed a 12 month program of professional opportunities. What stands out for you as the most memorable?

As one of the 2018 Rural Achievers for the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW I was offered a once in a lifetime program for the development of young future leaders in NSW. With my 12 months coming to a close, the prestige of this title will always be carried with me.

Some of the most memorable moments I have experienced include having the availability to network with everyone across the supply chain. I have been given the opportunity to learn and also to teach.  Communication is the key to success in any industry so to be given the opportunity to compare notes on beef and lamb production, opposed to honey production with the NSW Governor General is something very special.

5. You were named Monaro Local Woman of the Year, what opportunities have arisen from this accolade?

Being named The Local Woman of the Year for Monaro by Mr. John Barilaro MP and Deputy Premier of NSW was an absolute honor. To be recognized for pursuing my passion was something I never thought possible yet was so rewarding. This accolade allowed me to be approached by members of my community and industry to be their ambassador to encourage the next generation. To have the opportunity to be a voice that was being heard was extremely powerful. I used my title to encourage involvement in agriculture, promote the importance of local communities and educate people on my passion, paddock to plate.

6. As a young gun in the industry, what innovations or industry trends do you think have the potential to make a big difference?

The innovation of technology is always making a difference in our industry. From changing the way we process to the way we promote our products, technology is powerfully impacting. Traditional ways saw us focusing on breaking, cutting, displaying and selling, simply for the people of our community. Now with the increase of technology, we can prolong the life of our products, enhance the flavor, automatically package and label, sell online and distribute anywhere across the world. If technology isn’t making a difference I don’t know what is! The future of our industry will always change to adapt to new ways of technology. We will always take the opportunity to enhance our products and services for the consumers’ needs and wants, otherwise we become obsolete.

7. What are your plans for the future of your career and the Bungendore Country Butchery?

My family business is the backbone to who I am. I have lived and breathed this since I was a child and am so passionate about what we do and how we do it. My plans for the future encompass anything life throws at me. I am always looking at ways to develop the business, enhance our point of difference and perfect our processes, so the future looks bright!