Flinders Island Quality Meats was started in the late nineties by an enterprising farmer by the name of John Chapman. John saw the opportunity for local livestock to be processed on the island, and sold to it’s residents, as well as being sold to the mainland branded as a premium product.
Previously livestock had been shipped to Tasmania, and then frozen meat shipped back to the Island for consumption. The construction of FIQM solved this inefficiency, and meant that Islanders could enjoy meat that was guaranteed as their own. The new facility created jobs, fostered creativity and kickstarted the Island’s brand and sales to the mainland.
The abattoir was run very successfully for a number of years, with a particularly niche market being derived in the top market Sydney restaurants for Milk Fed Lamb. Other products sold to the mainland included Prime Lamb, Beef and the Island-unique pasture fed Wallaby. John Chapman later retired to mainland Tasmania, but the abattoir continued to operate, headed by various local entrepreneurs, continued to grow it’s markets and the quality of meat produced.
In December 2009 the plant was shutdown. This was due in large part to freight difficulties, the drought, a shortage of stock and the difficulty and cost in doing business from Flinders Island.
In October 2010 the plant was purchased by father and son team David and James Madden. Click here to view their profiles. A large amount of new machinery and supplies were bought across from mainland Victoria, and the process of updating and modernizing the plant began.
From October 2010 to the end of December the facility was upgraded, retooled, and renovated. Processes were streamlined, quality assurance tightened and a lot of experimentation (aka – tasting!) was done. Once satisfied, the plant reopened it’s doors as the revamped “Flinders Island Meat”. Old employees were rehired, new practices adhered to, and local meat was finally able to be sold to Islanders once more.
Since January 2011 the plant has been slowly ramping up production, smoothing out bumps and looking for ways to increase quality and consistency. By the end of July 2011, sufficient improvements have been completed on the plant, and the operating standard has reached a point whereby the directors were confident to begin marketing meat to mainland Australia as a premium quality, limited supply, niche market product.
The launch product for the new brand is “Flinders Island Wallaby” – different to Kangaroo, and with a taste unique to Flinders Island, it is one of the Island’s true hidden culinary pleasures. Wallaby is being marketed to high-end restaurants on the mainland that have a bit of flair, and are prepared to experiment with a unique product to create a point of difference, and be duly rewarded with the varied and tantalizing flavours wallaby has to offer.