Hazeldene’s Embraces a Future of Growth

Hazeldene’s Embraces a Future of Growth

The world can change a lot in nearly 60 years. Hazeldene’s Chicken Farm began in the late 1930s, but was founded in 1957, by the husband and wife team of Dick and Mavis Hazeldene, and the company remains family owned and operated to this day. But that family has expanded—today Hazeldene’s is a leader in poultry production and the largest private employer in its home of Bendigo, Victoria. While Hazeldene’s is committed to honoring its past and its family name, it’s also a major operation that is fully embracing the future, with all the innovative technology and consumer-driven trends that the future brings.


Growth Through Technology


Technology has evolved rapidly over the years, and that includes cutting edge farming and agricultural technology. “Our business has always been keen to establish better processing through the use of the latest technology systems,” says Adam Hazeldene, a third-generation Hazeldene and Technical Services Manager for the business, who completed studies in Computer Systems Engineering and traveled to work with poultry organizations throughout Europe before returning home to Hazeldene’s armed with education and innovation.


Hazeldene’s has been investing heavily in state-of-the-art poultry equipment to streamline and improve its processes across several of the company’s supply chain stages. Highlights of this equipment include fully climate-controlled lairage areas, a multiphase gas stunning system in keeping with the modern poultry industry’s best practices, and a brand new AeroScalder for improved defeathering. The business has also been working steadily over the last decade to grow and integrate its automation and SCADA systems.


“We have a great relationship with some of the major equipment manufacturers, and we’re passionate about working to a smarter process,” says Hazeldene. “We’ve had our challenges along the way, but I believe we have a very robust system in place. It’s taken significant resources and planning to get our automation to where it is today—however, I’m confident that this has and will continue to prove its worth over time.”  


Consumers Driving A Better Caliber of Poultry


Consumer interests and demands have been driving many trends throughout the food and beverage industry, and one major interest has been in the quality and care of the food they’re consuming. The RSPCA’s Approved Farming Scheme was introduced to give consumers peace of mind in a higher standard of animal welfare for Australia’s farm animals—and with ethics that align with this goal, Hazeldene’s takes pride in being one of the earliest adopters of the RSPCA Approved Farming scheme.


“We’ve always been focused on our animal husbandry and animal welfare, so formalizing this focus with RSPCA accreditation really made sense for us as a business—this attribute runs deep through the company on all levels,” says Hazeldene, who notes that the company’s quality and standards throughout its farming division have only improved with the introduction of the program.


“The other trend I see is that food standards over the last years have raised the bar increasingly, and we expect that to continue,” says Hazeldene. “I believe our employees have embraced this and are engaged to drive the necessary changes. I think into the future consumers will want to know more about where their food comes from, who produces it and what goes in it, and I see opportunity for locally grown and produced food to flourish.”


Shifting Focus While Remaining Centered


Hazeldene’s has traditionally been a primarily business-to-business brand, focusing on capturing the wholesale market as well as the retail market as a supplier for supermarket private label brands. But as consumers interest in free range and sustainably raised chicken is growing, Hazeldene’s is shifting its focus and coming into its own.


“We’ve recently reached a milestone in that we are about to launch three products under Hazeldene’s brand into Coles supermarkets nationally next month,” says Hazeldene. It’s both a milestone and a signifier that Hazeldene’s is in the midst of a very strong period of growth. “Because food standards have risen considerably, the retailers are now asking us for things that were not part of our organization even 5 years ago—it’s a big change, but it has challenged us to rise to the occasion. I see further growth in the free range market and export market, and more focus on the Hazeldene’s brand of products for us as a business.”


But for as long as the company continues to grow and evolve with time, at the core of the business is a pride in the family name and in the work that this family—and its extended family of farms and staff—works to produce every day. 


“Our business strategy has always been focused around the idea that if we produce something of exceptional quality, our customers will stick with us,” says Hazeldene. “Everything we do here 100 per cent revolves around producing a quality product for a consumer-driven market,” says Hazeldene. “We’re very proud of our family name. So we don’t sacrifice or take short cuts: we do what we say, and we are who we are.”