Dalene Wray has received the 2018 Advance Food & Agriculture Award at a gala event in Sydney.
The Advance Awards recognise global leadership by some of Australia’s most talented people in their chosen field. They celebrate international Australians who exhibit remarkable talent, exceptional vision and ambition, and are the only awards to recognise the contributions of the one million Australians living abroad and those who have returned home.
Dalene was recognised for the change and innovation she is driving in the Australian beef industry as Managing Director of OBE Organic.
OBE Organic is Australia’s oldest organic beef marketing company, formed in the mid 1990s by a group of visionary outback cattle farmers who turned their tyranny of distance into an asset by having their chemical-free properties certified organic.
Dalene – who grew up in the outback town of Birdsville and started her working life as a radiographer – joined the company in 2003. To advance its Asian and Middle East expansion, she relocated to Beijing and Hong Kong between 2009 and 2015, building strong relationships and markets for the company, while helping enhance the profile and reputation of the Australian beef industry offshore.
Some of the initiatives she has driven to support her farmer-owned business – and the broader beef industry – to take advantage of emerging opportunities and trends include:
- Being invited by the United Nations FAO to advise on the development of a Mongolian organic beef industry
- Developing one of the Australian beef industry’s first formal sustainability programs, FLOURISH
- Championing gender and ethnic diversity, including running a company that has 66% female directors and over 60% female staff, and initiating one of the first Reconciliation Action Plans in an Australian agribusiness
- Promoting animal wellbeing by establishing an animal wellbeing committee with customer, vet and producer representatives, and initiating data-driven projects that aims to help OBE farmers improve animal health and wellbeing and therefore productivity outcomes for their herds
- Developing resources to improve on-farm safety with partner organisations
- Partnering with organisations to help OBE Organic producers and the broader beef industry improve their profitability and productivity
- Supporting data uptake in the beef industry by promoting a broadband connectivity trial for remote cattle properties, and investigating opportunities for digital adoption in areas including spatial mapping and traceability.
Dalene also contributes time to Boards and groups that support the integrity and marketing of Australian food, including the Council for Australian Arab Relations, the Australian Meat Industry Council and the Australian Organic Industry Working Group.