About

Eyes to the sky – the Blue Sky way

In the mid-80s, three pioneers of the meat industry saw the southern New Zealand landscape and climate as the perfect collision of natural resources to produce the world’s most tender, succulent, grass-fed, free-range lamb.

Nature provided the perfect tools of untouched, fertile farmland and temperate climate. Combined with people who shared a pioneering spirit, Blue Sky Meats emerged with a dynamic future focus, eyes-upward mindset and, most importantly, a commitment to people and excellence.

More than just an alternative to the large players, Blue Sky Meats was about setting a local precedent by using their smaller size to be nimble and provide high-quality boutique offerings. The philosophy was simple: the very best land and environment for rearing the best lamb in the world, a commitment to people, fostering excellence in all areas, staying nimble, and an eyes to the sky approach of always looking up. This was the beginning of The Blue Sky Way.

To be competitive, Blue Sky Meats had to get it right from the start. By providing equitable returns, representation for farmers and ensuring staff were proud and took enjoyment from their work, Blue Sky Meats paved the way for meat processing excellence in Southland.

Thirty years later, our eyes to the sky approach has proven itself and we’ve built our strong international reputation on that basis.

We’ve continued to build strong relationships based on traditional values, and the pioneering spirit that launched us continues to shine through everything we do today.

Our People

We employ more than 350 people, including our sales and marketing team based in Auckland. We are proud to still be working with many of the staff and their families who have been with us from the beginning, allowing us to maintain a highly experienced knowledge base.

Staff share our vision of supplying locally-grown, world-class meat.


Management

In the business of meat processing, we believe you must be led by good people with strong values and a passion for what they do. Our experienced management team all share that passion.

Todd Grave

CEO

Bringing a wide range of international experience, CEO Todd is a proud Southlander with strong career links to primary industries.
He studied marketing management after which he entered the Fonterra commerce graduate programme. Todd then spent 10 years across multiple continents in business development, research, marketing and strategy roles. After co-founding cycling apparel company F2P sportswear, Todd entered our CEO role in 2016.

Willie Watson

Livestock Procurement Manager

Having spent 20 years in roles including stock procurement, auctioneering and time as a stock agent, Willie joined Blue Sky Meats with extensive experience in the meat industry.Overseeing stock supply for Blue Sky Meats, Willie works with a team of three agents and a Livestock Administrator. Outside of work Willie keeps himself busy with farming, clay target shooting and the odd spot of fishing.

Chad Brown

Marketing Manager

Chad and his family have a long history with Blue Sky Meats, including being Chad’s first employer following his university graduation. Based in Auckland, Chad delivers our unique message globally to maximise return for shareholders and farmers. He has been involved with the company since 1992.
An avid field hockey player, Chad has represented Southland, Wellington, Manawatu, Auckland and New Zealand across his respective age groups.

Gavin Tippett

Engineering Manager

A born and bred Southlander, Gavin started working for Blue Sky Meats in 1995 as an on-site engineer and progressed to Engineering Manager in 2009. Gavin maintains and repairs on-site equipment and machinery and also designs new initiatives with his dedicated team of engineers. Gavin is a director and part owner of a small, successful engineering business in Invercargill. Gavin is a keen hunter and fisherman, and is an avid supporter of the Riverton senior rugby team.

Billy Wells

Operations Manager Slaughter / Technical

Billy boasts 37 years in the meat industry, holding roles in retail, wholesale and export; he has spent 15 of those years with Blue Sky Meats. He is the current Operations Manager for Slaughter, Technical, Rendering, Yards, and Skin Processing. Outside of work, Billy is a regular volunteer for the annual Burt Munro Challenge.

Brett Jenkins

Operations Manager Further Processing / HR

Brett has spent 22 years in the red meat industry, all of which have been with Blue Sky Meats. His roles have covered Quality Assurance, Logistics, Production and Operational Management. In his current role, he manages Further Processing and Purchasing at our Morton Mains Plant, and Health and Safety and Human Resources across the company.

Micaela Sloan

Administration Manager

Joining Blue Sky Meats as a receptionist in 2003, Micaela entered the management role 12 years ago. In addition to working closely with all clients and staff across the company, she also looks after all administration within Blue Sky Meats including payroll and accounts. Outside of work, Micaela enjoys keeping fit by playing netball and is a former amateur boxer.

Ben Nally

Business Transformation Manager

Ben entered the meat industry in 2010 as a Shipping Manager with Blue Sky Meats. Since then, his role has evolved into Business Transformation Manager where he manages our IT systems while looking for ways to use technology to improve process and information flow within our organisation. A born and bred Southlander, Ben was a member of the Southland Stags rugby team from 2009-2012.

Christian Harvey

Technical Compliance Manager

Christian has 21 years of experience in the meat industry, 19 of which have been with Blue Sky Meats, initially in the Further Processing department. Since 2012, he has worked in a Technical/Compliance role that addresses all aspects of food safety, from receipt of animal through to finished product loadout. He spends his weekends with his wife and four children attending their various rugby, netball and hockey games.

Jess Vickery

CFO

Jess started in a secondment role at Blue Sky Meats after moving to Southland in 2014 and has recently been appointed to the new role of CFO. She is looking forward to the challenges in her new role and is excited to officially be part of the Blue Sky Team. Outside of work, Jess enjoys helping her husband on the sheep and beef farm he manages, and playing netball.


Governance

We are public unlisted company supported by a board of three directors.  

Like the management team it supports, our board is an experienced team with a history of delivering excellence.  

With a future focus, the board drives Blue Sky Meats forward, ensuring we provide our customers throughout the world with the products they want and that our farmers continue to receive a fair return.

The board is committed to best practice and fostering an environment of excellence.

Scott O'Donnell

Chairman

The board is led by Scott O’Donnell. Southland born and bred, Scott’s early background included senior financial roles in Telecom NZ plus European telecoms and banking operations. He returned to Invercargill in 1995 and joined the family owned HW Richardson Group. He was GM of the transport and contracting sections of this business and then took over the Managing Directors role in 2006. He retired from this role in 2015 but continues to be member of the board. He has been on the Blue Sky Meat board since 2012.

Peter Carnahan

Director

Peter Carnahan has an intimate knowledge of the company having been a director since 1987 as well as holding the role of company secretary in the formative years. Formally an accountant, Peter has since held CEO roles with logistics companies including his current role with Trojan Holdings Ltd, a transport operation. Peter also holds director roles in a range of industries including construction, retail, food processing and investment companies. His combination of logistics and financial skills are a valuable asset to Blue Sky Meats.

Arron Hoyle

Director

Arron Hoyle has held a range of senior management positions in FMCG and manufacturing industries across New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and China. Arron brings an extensive knowledge and network in the global agricultural and red meat industries and is passionate about contributing to Blue Sky Meats’ forward-focussed strategy. He recognises the strength of Blue Sky Meats’ relationship with farmers and he looks forward to collaborating with them in driving Blue Sky Meats ahead.

Our Farmers

We are proud of the strong partnerships we’ve forged with southern farmers and their families, many of whom have been supplying to us since we began in 1987.

They share our vision of providing exceptional quality products to our customers and we reward our farmers for their loyalty and hard work. The scale and vastness of the environment they operate in never intimidates them. In a shared and hard-working spirit, they choose to work with their surroundings, not against them. We admire that.

John and Christine Horrocks

Waikaka

It was a big move for farmers John and Christine Horrocks, who handed in their corporate jobs in Auckland to escape the city hustle and bustle and settled on their farm near Waikaka over 20 years ago. They began supplying to Blue Sky Meats 17 years ago, and it was the set booking system that first attracted them to make the switch. “

It allows you to arrange your life. Killing on the date is the most important thing to us.

We talked to management years ago about bringing in a heavy lamb contract and it has been there ever since – you can do things like that.

Dan Frew

Otapiri Gorge

It’s a family affair with the Frews as five generations of them have farmed in Southland and they now run three farms side-by-side in Otapiri Gorge. Dan Frew’s parents Marie and Mervin Frew bought the first property in Otapiri Gorge in 1984, and were shareholders in Blue Sky Meats from the beginning.

They’ve been competitive with their rates and they have a good tracking system. We know what date stock is going.

They take a grass roots approach and are willing to hear from the farmer and talk. If there’s seasonal fluctuations, they’re open and honest about supply, letting us know when we can get our sheep in.

Grant and Megan Scott

Mataura

With 150 years and multiple generations having lived and worked on the same farm, Grant and Megan Scott have a long history in their spot near Mataura. Grant bought shares in Blue Sky Meats when he was 21 and he and wife Megan purchased the family farm in 2007.

I invested as I knew a lot of the guys and believed in what they were trying to achieve.There is a greater feel of ownership as a smaller company. 

They’re open to clients ringing up, they’re flexible and you can book your numbers ahead. You feel like they’re trying to get the best dollar for you.

Our Plant

In the heart of southern New Zealand sits our Morton Mains processing plant.

Our location allows us to be close to our farmers who are committed to growing stock on our fertile land to peak condition and delivering them to our plant just a short journey away. We strive to be better instead of bigger, as such, our focus is on providing you with a range of boutique, specialist cuts. Our single chain, multi-shift plant uses modern technology to produce high-quality, market-leading sheep and lamb cuts with efficiencies that enable us to be competitive while providing a fair return to our farmers.

Our processing plant is capable of processing up to 30,000 stock units per week and includes specialised boning and cutting rooms that, during the peak season, operate 20 hours per day, seven days a week.

Our Commitment To Safety

Food Safety

Our customers expect the very best. At the core of our product quality lies best practice, which is reflected in our health and safety approach to food production.

It starts in the lush green pastures of southern New Zealand where our farmers meet stringent specifications to guarantee they are producing free-range, grass-fed stock in peak condition. 

From independent on site veterinarians ensuring processed stock is in optimum health to post-processing independent inspections and grading (accelerated ageing and conditioning), we ensure our customers are getting the very best.

We follow a strict Quality Policy and stand by our products. We are HACCP accredited and hold the key European accreditation from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The plant is EU and USDA approved and meets tight hygiene requirements. The plant’s New Zealand MPI number is ME80.

Our accreditations and programmes include:

  • HACCP 
  • New Zealand Customs Secure Export Scheme partner
  • European Union accredited
  • USDA/FDA accredited
  • New Zealand MPI accredited
  • Other country listings including China, Russia, Japan plus others

Health and safety

As part of our commitment to our suppliers and staff, we ensure that every person we engage with can expect the highest level of safety and care. Whether it’s someone checking in with our team on site or a staff member travelling to visit farmers, our goal is that everyone goes home safely at the end of the day.
To achieve our health and safety goals, a collaborative approach is required involving everyone in our supply chain. We are conducting a full health and safety audit to identify further ways to enhance safety in the workplace and we’ve empowered our staff to contribute to this ongoing process.

Environmental protection

Sustainability is at the core of our business. As part of our ground-up Strategic Review, we reviewed how we can better look after our environment and minimise waste across all our operations.