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The Olsson family is celebrating 70 years of supplementing Australian livestock

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A family legacy of market-leading innovation and sustainability, celebrating 70 years of commitment and excellence in livestock nutrition.


Western Sydney - Australia, 11 June 2024; Olsson Industries, Australia's oldest family-run producer of salt products for livestock, proudly celebrates its 70th anniversary of incorporation, marking seven decades of dedication, innovation, and unwavering commitment to the agricultural community.


The story of Olsson Industries began in 1948 in Parramatta, New South Wales, when Norman Olsson saw an opportunity to support graziers during drought. Alex Olsson shares "My grandfather realised their ice block business was becoming obsolete with the advent of refrigeration. The story goes that Norman received a 500-pound payout and, instead of buying a delivery truck, they invested in a block press to address the nutritional needs of livestock during the drought he was witnessing impact their neighbours. That was the origin of Olsson Industries.”


In the late 1950s, Olsson Industries secured their salt supply by purchasing their first salt works in Warooka, South Australia. Alex Olsson reflects, "During those heavily unionised times, we were a non-union shop, so we needed to secure our own salt supply. My Father, Charles, and his brother Malcolm, drove to the York Peninsula in 1958 and purchased salt leases in the Peesey Swamp near Warooka.” 


Alex and Murray Olsson, cousins, recall their early involvement in the family business. "We were brought to the factory from a very young age during school holidays, making boxes and packing salt," says Murray. "Our fathers, Charles and Don Olsson, were involved in every facet of the business, from formulations, fixing machinery to sales and stacking pallets," Alex adds. "There are regulations now around what we can and can’t do, especially on the manufacturing floor," she jokes.


Innovation has always been at the heart of Olsson Industries. "The theory behind pressed blocks is to add a balance of nutrients and trace elements to encourage and support the rumen in processing dry feed, mimicking natural processes," says Alex. "What started as simple nutritional supplements evolved into medicated blocks, and now includes advanced supplementation to improve livestock productivity. We've come to understand the crucial role of micro-organisms and the impact of by-pass proteins in the rumen. Our feed blocks and licks are a direct response to this understanding, ensuring optimal nutrition and therefore performance for livestock.”

There are a few key people that come to mind when reflecting on the milestones and key contributions to Olsson's success, one being Professor Ron Leng AO. His approach and information have been integral to the company's success. "Our self-selecting blocks embody the philosophy of nutritional wisdom," Alex explains. "Professor Ron Leng AO taught us about allowing animals to self-select based on their needs, which optimises their health and productivity. His ability to make a dry subject like animal nutrition fascinating and engaging is part of our DNA.”


Building on this ethos, Olsson Industries places great importance on continued education. The company regularly hosts livestock seminars, providing opportunities for continued and shared learning in the livestock nutrition space. "We've invested in these seminars to provide participants with industry-leading insights and learning experiences," Murray notes. "These events are a testament to our commitment to education and collaboration within the livestock space."


From the early days, with a customer base naturally concentrated around farms in Southern Australia, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, Olsson Industries has been instrumental in opening up Northern Australia to productive grazing operations. "We've developed high-concentrated free-choice supplements for Northern Australia, addressing deficiencies in protein, sulfur, and phosphorus," says Murray. "Our feed advancements have also reduced the impact of toxic native plants like poisonous gidgee and lantana, allowing livestock to process the feed and reducing mortality rates."

Olsson Industries has also been a leader in sustainability. "Our block boxes are now made from 100% recycled, unbleached cardboard that livestock can safely consume," Alex highlights. Over the years, the company has increased the concentration of blocks, reducing fuel consumption and increasing feed efficiencies. The block sizes have also evolved, with offerings now ranging from small 2kg brick-sized blocks to the innovative easy-unload 125kg blocks, and even up to one tonne, meeting diverse needs of customers. 


When it comes to acknowledging the focus on reducing methane emissions and pressures on the industry, Murray says, "We've been aware of the importance of reducing methane since the 90s and are excited about our recent partnerships. We are committed to being a vehicle that provides methane solutions for grass-fed animals around Australia, where many are just looking at the feedlot scenario."


The company's commitment to community engagement is another key aspect of their philosophy. "We've always been involved in charity organisations, especially during droughts when people are doing it tough," Murray notes. 


Don Olsson, Murray's father, was instrumental in fostering a positive internal culture. "Don was incredible at creating a supportive environment," Alex points out. "He initiated a program designed to assist individuals who were typically considered unemployable by creating job opportunities for them. Going above and beyond, Don even arranged transportation, with a bus picking up these individuals and bringing them to work. Murray, just like his father, has been an exceptional contributor to our business's constant progress. He loves research, listens to farmers and graziers, and works tirelessly to find solutions to their issues. This dedication to understanding and addressing customer needs has helped us evolve and stay in touch."


As Australia has evolved, so has Olsson Industries. "We built our reputation through personal relationships with individual farmers and family-owned rural stores. Over the years, these relationships have evolved. We've moved from dealing with family-owned stock and station agents to talking to boards and relationship managers of large corporations. This shift speaks to the major evolution of our business and the rural industry," says Alex.


Despite these changes, Olsson Industries remains a family business at its core. "We call ourselves a family company, but it's not just about our family," says Alex. "It's about generations of other businesses and people who have grown up with us. Many of our employees have been with us for decades, contributing to our success and continuity."


Looking ahead, Olsson Industries remains committed to innovation and community support. "Both Murray and I have an unwavering desire to set the next generation up for success, honouring the legacy of our fathers and the contributions of all those involved in Olsson Industries' story," says Alex. "This is the first time in the company's history we have taken the time to pause and reflect on the incredible contributions our families have made to the industry. The sacrifice and success of our founding fathers are not lost on us. Their vision and hard work have paved the way for us to continue making a positive impact on livestock nutrition."


In celebrating this milestone, Olsson Industries is also celebrating shared success. "We are currently searching for the oldest Olsson’s block user, and recently at Beef Australia, we celebrated with a family who had been part of the Olsson fold since 1985," says Murray. "It’s special to have relationships that date back so many years."


Marking 70 years, they continue to exemplify the values of dedication, innovation, and community engagement that have defined their journey. "I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up," Alex jokes. "Thirty years later in the family business, and we're still learning and evolving." 


Olsson Industries remains a testament to the power of these core values in the agricultural industry. As they look ahead to the future, they remain committed to supporting the agricultural community with the same passion and integrity that has defined their first 70 years.

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