Four Daughters started the way of many good ideas before it – in a bar. At Beef Week 2018 Karen’s husband Dan Penfold fortuitously pulled up a seat beside a young Chinese business couple. Always up for a chinwag, Dan soon discovered the pair were in the market for a branded beef product to export. After 20 years operating a family feedlot and supplying to the domestic market, it just so happened the Penfold’s were looking to expand and diversify their business.
Armed with a map, the couple turned up at the Meandarra, QLD property the very next day and so began the Penfold family’s 12 month journey to building a relationship with their new associates and establishing the brand’s future.
It’s been a time of enormous highs and equally as crushing lows, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and disrupted supply chains and the foodservice sector globally. But with an unwavering commitment to producing top quality beef for both the international and domestic market, and an innovative idea, the Penfolds have been able to adapt and the branded business is still thriving today.
Four Daughters’ beef is now sold in packs in a signature Pink Beef Box, delivered by the family direct to customers in South East QLD, and they are working on building their interstate deliveries to NSW, Victoria and Canberra. It features a selection of choice nose to tail Black Angus cuts, including premium mince and gourmet sausages.
“Without a doubt, the export market is definitely wanting that premium product, the 150 day mid-fed to long-fed and so we’ve very much developed our brand around that need,” Karen says.
“But obviously due to COVID and the export ban we had to figure out what to do with all this beef so we started the Four Daughters Pink Beef Box and it’s turned into so much more than we ever envisaged.
“The city-country connections we’ve built have been incredible and it has absolutely blown us away that everyone does want to meet the farmer, so to speak. They want to know the story behind the beef.”
To meet this curiosity, the Penfolds started a regular newsletter to share their world with customers. Through tales of everyday life, plenty of humour and photos from the farm, the monthly musings offer a direct look into the life of a grazing and lot feeding family and why they do what they do.
The newsletters have also given the family a platform to help educate and create awareness for the grain fed beef industry – and Karen says she’ll continue to share the message as often as she needs to.
“We do find the same questions will pop up regularly so we keep sharing the mantra that all cattle are born on grass, raised on grass but they’re just finished in the feedlot,” she says.
“The reason that we first began lot feeding was due to drought and the welfare of our animals. We are a country of drought to flooding rains and by using the feedlot as a management tool we are able to make sure our animals always have quality feed when grass runs out. We can manage our environment, our pastures, our paddocks and our water.”
“We also supply a large domestic supermarket each week with another product. The feedlot allows us to provide a weekly supply of consistent quality beef to meet supply chain specifications and consumer demand.”
Two years on from that chance encounter over a beer, Four Daughters continues to grow and provide a strong future for the young women at its helm.
It was the incredible passion for the industry that Bonnie, 23, Molly, 21, Jemima, 19, and Matilda, 17 revealed in those early days to the young Chinese business couple that Karen says both inspired the brand’s name, and its direction.
“They were just blown away by the girls – all redheads, no less – and they couldn’t believe they’d be loading the mixer, in the cattle yards, driving the truck and then come home to cook and clean then everyone hangs out their own washing before we go out for the day. It was a huge eye-opener for them,” Karen says.
“The girls are so passionate about what they do and like they said at Beef Week, they don’t even see it as a job. It’s their life and they’re committed to ensuring our future food production is sustainable and well looked after.”
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The Australian grain fed beef industry is committed to a wider sustainability plan known as the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework. The Framework aims to create a thriving industry that improves the wellbeing of people, animals