Woolworths plans to build new meat facility at just the right time
In an attempt to stay on pace with rival supermarket Coles, Woolworths recently announced plans to build a new meat processing facility in Laverton and move its distribution centre from Broadmeadows to southeastern Melbourne.
Woolworths will invest over $650 million in new stores and infrastructure, while adding over 2000 new employees to its workforce in the next three years. The two projects combined are expected to provide more than 500 full-time jobs in addition to several more construction jobs during development.
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This expansion comes at a great time for the retail-market giant, as cattle prices recently set a record high. Due to increasing international demand for Australian beef because of drought in both the United States and Australia, optimism is rising throughout the same beef industry that withstood several years of low prices despite rising production costs.
With such great demand in the US, China and other Asian markets, cattle prices in eastern Australia shot up over $5 per kilogram for the first time ever. In addition, a severe drought in northern Australia has dramatically reduced herd sizes and decreased the amount of cattle available to the public.
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The industry is thriving. Last year, Australia exported 74 per cent of the beef it produced in a time when there was a very high global demand, especially in the US. According to Ben Thomas of Meat and Livestock Australia, beef production in America is currently at a 20-year low, while US residents pay nearly double the price in Australia.
However, that hasn’t prevented the local Aussie retail price of beef from rising. With the price of beef increasing 10 per cent during a three-month stretch earlier this year, Australian beef consumption fell to less than 30 kg for the first time ever according to Meat and Livestock Australia.
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Woolworths and Coles, which combine to sell about 57 per cent of the beef consumed in Australia, have warned industry leaders that high prices could drive customers more toward poultry and other meats. During a three-month stretch earlier this year, chicken sales in Australia increased by 20 per cent.
But one thing is certain: Australian meat is important to businesses, as it’s one of the few foods that keep consumers coming through the door. So if local consumers aren’t prepared to pay more for beef, people in the US, Japan and South Korea will.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.