Agribusiness titan David Larkin appointed Kimberley Meat Co chief executive

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenCountryman
The Kimberley Meat Company abattoir is set to reopen in March after the facility was mothballed in late 2020.
Camera IconThe Kimberley Meat Company abattoir is set to reopen in March after the facility was mothballed in late 2020. Credit: Yeeda Pastoral Company/Supplied

Agribusiness heavyweight David Larkin has taken the helm of the Kimberley Meat Company as the co-operative pushes ahead with plans to reopen the north-west’s only abattoir by March.

Mr Larkin, who is one of Australia’s most experienced agribusiness leaders, was quietly appointed KMC’s inaugural chief executive in November after the company restructured its ownership into a co-operative model.

Based in Melbourne, he has nearly four decades of experience in the meat and agriculture industries, including a four-year stint as chief executive of mining and pastoral mogul Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Agriculture empire.

Mr Larkin told Countryman his contract with KMC was “ongoing” though he expected he would be in the new role for five years.

“I’ve spent 35 years in the meat and agriculture business,” he said.

“(My main goal as chief executive of KMC is) to reopen the plant to a sustainable operating abattoir in the Kimberley.

“We’re planning on opening in March, and should there be anybody looking to find work in Broome we’ll be happy to attend to them.”

The $35 million KMC facility — which was then owned by Yeeda Pastoral Company — was closed in late 2020 because of a lack of cattle supply and high prices.

The KMC transformed into a co-operative in October 2021, with 14 founding members, including Yeeda, and some of the biggest pastoral operations in the region.

Spudshed owner Tony Galati is also a part-owner, and plans to use the facility near Broome to supply beef to his supermarket chain.

The facility — which has meat export licences for Canada, the US, European Union, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, South Korea, South Africa and Indonesia — will be able to process at least 40,000 head of cattle a year.

Mr Larkin’s LinkedIn account describes him as a “visionary business leader and award-winning entrepreneur. . . with deep experience of government, underpinned by extensive commercial expertise”.

As chief executive of Hancock Agriculture, he expanded the business into the largest private land holding in the world, encompassing a staggering 11.8 million hectares of cattle stations and 370,000 head of cattle, and oversaw its growth into Australia’s second largest beef producer and exporter.

He stood down abruptly in July last year.

Mr Larkin has previously served as chair of the Australian Meat Industry Council and director of the Red Meat Advisory Council, with his current roles including Producer Advisory Board member for Meat and Livestock Australia, chair of the Pastoral Lands Board, and advisor for the Australia Trade Policy Advisory Committee.

In 2007 he founded Atron Enterprises, one of the biggest Australian owned and operated beef processors in the country.

In 2017 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for leadership and innovation in the beef export industry.

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