When Susan McDonald’s younger brother Zanda was killed in a farm accident in April 2013 he knew what she must do.
The working mum of three quit her job as chief-of-staff to Natural Resources Minster Andrew Cripps and took the reins of the family’s recently acquired Super Butcher business.
Equipped with her background in accountancy she set out to realise her brother’s dream for the business.
Prior to his death Zanda and Susan had spoken about his vision for Super Butcher to provide farmers with access to customers and sustainable prices and for consumers to have access to quality brands of ethically raised meat.
Susan now oversees the seven Super Butcher outlets and 120 staff. I spoke to her last week about her vision for the business.
“Zanda was recognised by the industry as having great foresight,” Susan told me.
“He started exporting our family brands, Wallumba and Alexander around the world. He had the herd accredited with the RSPCA for the ethical treatment of animals and he put a lot of work into breeding lines for the herd. He saw Super Butcher as an opportunity to bring the world class Australian meat, not just beef, to consumers.
“We use a cellar door analogy, because people can come in and choose the kind of meat they want. Grain fed, grass fed, organic, wagyu, different cuts.
“Before he died, Zanda and I had talked about it a lot and I understood what his dream was and I felt the same way.”
Zanda, a father of four, died from the injuries he incurred when he fell four metres from a windmill on the family property near Cloncurry.
The McDonald family is Australia’s largest private landholder with 175,000 head of cattle on 11 properties located from the Cape to Condamine, covering an area of 3.36million hectares.
Susan says she is passionate about ensuring producers get a fair go and are paid properly for their efforts.
“They put a lot of effort into building a brand and into breeding, a lot of hard work goes into producing quality meat and we should be promoting that, not making it some unbranded product,” she says.
“We want to provide real meat for real people. Zanda’s vision for Super Butcher was to give consumers more choice and to make buying meat an entire experience – customer service, quality and range.
“And we’re allowing farmers to tell their own stories and be true to the product they’ve produced.”
Susan was my Sunday Mail Ask a Farmer profile this weekend. Download the story.