Silver Fern Farms CEO optimistic despite $24 million loss in 2023

Silver Fern Farms CEO optimistic despite $24 million loss in 2023

Dan Boulton, the newly appointed Chief Executive of Silver Fern Farms, addresses the challenges that led to the company's $24.4 million loss in the 2023 fiscal year. 

Boulton highlights a confluence of difficult circumstances, such as global supply shifts, inflation, and wavering consumer confidence, which collectively undermined the revenue of New Zealand's meat industry, specifically beef and lamb producers. 

"You know we're obviously facing into some pretty challenging market conditions out there... and those conditions continue today," Boulton explains.

He outlines the decline in revenue from $3.3 billion in 2022 to $2.8 billion in 2023, emphasising the significant impact of international competition, such as increased sheep meat production in Australia and elevated U.S. beef production, as well as South American beef penetrating the Chinese market. 

Despite these hurdles, Boulton conveys a message of resilience and long-term optimism for the industry. He believes that global protein demand will continue to rise and insists that New Zealand producers, being the most efficient and sustainable, have a compelling narrative to share. The focus, according to Boulton, is on enhancing value for farmers and pushing for a nature-positive future. 

"You know we do have the most efficient, sustainable producers in the world. We need to tell that story loud and clear," he states. Boulton also addresses the immediate concerns of sheep meat farmers, recognising their current struggles. 

He reassures them that Silver Fern Farms is working to bring more value back to them, particularly by creating new forms of value and emphasising the company's nature-positive farming systems and net carbon-zero lambs. 

"We're working hard around creating new forms of value for our farmers and continuing to position particularly our sheep farmers as efficient," Boulton affirms. 

As a fresh leader confronting these financial headwinds, Boulton feels accountable yet confident due to the strong alignment across the company, from customers to farmers. He is proud of the record farmer shareholding and loyalty, staff engagement, and customer relations, viewing these as crucial factors that will help the company weather the storm. 

He concludes with a positive outlook, confident that the company's current strategy and investments will help Silver Fern Farms navigate through these challenging times more effectively. 

"Our strategy is the right one... and I think our current strategy will help us get out of this current, these current headwinds, faster than if we didn't invest at the same time," he expresses, demonstrating a firm commitment to steering Silver Fern Farms towards recovery and growth.

Listen to the full chat between Dan Boulton and Dominic George above.

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