Meat industry leader missed

By Geoff Adams

Peter Greenham had the attributes and the background to succeed in a tough business.

With a foundation in accounting, and the tutelage of his father and extended family, Mr Greenham developed the entrepreneurial skills which saw the family meat processing business grow to the point where it operates in several states and employs hundreds of people.

Mr Greenham — businessman, father, husband and grandfather — died at his South Yarra home from cancer on August 16, at the age of 83.

His tall frame and bearing (which contributed to his ‘spider’ nickname) commanded attention when he walked into a room and his cheeky sense of humour tended to engage listeners.

He developed a reputation for being tough-minded but fair, and his application to the business won the respect of his staff.

Peter Henry Greenham was born on December 18, 1936 in Footscray, the son of meat exporter Harry Greenham and his wife Amy. An only child, he attended Wesley College in Prahran until he was called on to join his father's business.

The family business was established in the 1860s as HW Greenham and Sons.

“They didn't bring me straight into the business; I was sent to work for a firm of chartered accountants,” Mr Greenham later recalled. "I did two or three years of accounting and auditing. I got to understand what proper accounting was all about, quite different to what I learnt at school!”

He went on to work for his father and his uncle Reg at the Melbourne City Abattoirs in the 1950s, then Frozen Food Industries, supplying meat for Chiko Rolls in the 1960s, before buying his first facility, Newport Abattoir, in the late 1970s.

The father of Peter (Jr) and Lucy, Mr Greenham was also grandfather to Amelia and Harry.

Peter Greenham (Jr), now managing director of the family company, recalled the hardworking butcher from Footscray who married a Brighton dress designer.

He had a passion for the industry that was undiminished in his mature years. At the age of 55, when many of his mates were retiring, Mr Greenham decided to forge ahead with a business expansion and develop smaller and more nimble plants which would become the future for the beef industry.

He established the processing plant at Tongala in 1993.

The Greenham family took over the Tasmanian Smithton abattoir in 2002 and launched Cape Grim Beef in 2007.

The brand has grown to include customers throughout Australia and overseas.

In 2017, the business purchased the Moe Meatworks.

Mr Greenham and his wife Anne (nee Stooke) were supporters of many charitable organisations and their major sponsorships included the National Gallery of Victoria.

He never forgot the communities in which his business operated, and as well as donating to rural relief funds Mr Greenham was well known for his support of young agricultural students through the Goulburn Valley Greenham scholarship, which has been offered through TAFE in recent years.

“It’s very important that younger people see a future for themselves in the industry,” Mr Greenham said when presenting one of the awards.

“We have built our business on servicing the dairy sector and we want to see it prosper to help build strong regional communities and local economies.”

Mr and Mrs Greenham were also supporters of the Western Bulldogs Football Club.

The team wore black arm bands on the day Mr Greenham passed away when they played their round 12 game against Adelaide.

Another of Mr Greenham's passions was fishing, and his unrealised goal was to snag a one metre barramundi during one of his fishing expeditions up north. His son has promised to fulfill the mission one day.

Mr Greenham's funeral was held on August 21 at Nelson Brothers, Footscray, and he was interred at Altona Memorial Park.