Riordan Grains toasts 2021 milestones

January 14, 2022 BY

LARA baed Riordan Grain Services achieved several major milestones in 2021.

Twenty-five years in business, loading its millionth tonne of bulk exports from Geelong and Portland and, just before Christmas, the largest ever shipment of Malt Barley from Australia’s east coast bound for Mexico, the second largest to ever leave Australia’s shores.

“This 25,000 tonnes will produce 760 million bottles of beer, that’s approximately 14,500 B-double loads of bottled beer,” said Jim Riordan, the company’s managing director.

“Grown locally, processed at MaltEurop in Geelong and exported locally.”

Starting in Winchelsea in 1996, Riordan Grain Services now has an annual turnover across its grains and fuels business of close to $450 million, employing around 170 people.

Mr Riordan says the latest shipment to Mexico is testimony to the ability to retain as much onshore value from commodities before they leave Australia’s shores and a demonstration of how the sector is poised to respond to external forces such as climate change, China’s trade bans on Australian commodities and COVID-19.

“The last two seasons have been very good for ag (agriculture) on the east coast, but the two years prior were pretty bad, the NSW drought etc.”

Looking to the future, he says “there’s definitely going to be some pressure on making sure we can grow some carbon neutral crops in the future … newer varieties are producing more yield for rainfall, for dry land farming – the techniques to grow, minimum tillage, moisture retention, GPS, totally different to 20 years ago.”

As for trade bans, Mr Riordan says “China pulling out has probably been an assistance to Australian barley, we were probably operating around the basis that it was the
only market.”

“We wish it was still available, but one of the great things about being forced into a situation is that it makes you find other markets.

“In the past we haven’t had the ability of supplying markets like Mexico, but supply chains like ours are facilitating that,” he said, also citing the $120 million expansion of Geelong’s Malteurop malting and handling facility in 2018 as integral to this process.

Mr Riordan believes the pandemic is highlighting challenges and opportunities.

“The government have been completely asleep at the wheel when it comes to maintaining against sovereign risk. If COVID has done anything for us, it’s made us wake up to sovereign risk; AD Blue shortages, fuel supplies, fertiliser supplies, chemical suppliers.

“We have to think about making sure that we have supply lines to keep producing things in Australia.

“The last two years has really proven that we still need to eat, it’s a key ingredient to everyday life, agriculture’s importance has been resurrected.”