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Silver Fern closes Brooks plant in UK

Friday 30th July 2010

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Silver Fern Farms, the Dunedin-headquartered meat processing and marketing cooperative, is to close its frozen meat processing plant, Brooks, in Norwich, England.

SFF, which recently closed its Canterbury lamb cutting plant in Christchurch as well as its rendering and casings department at its Belfast plant, bought the Brooks operation in 1998 at a time when significant volumes of frozen carcasses and cuts were sent north for further processing.

An increasing emphasis and consumer demand for chilled products and subsequent drop in frozen meat volumes sent overseas, along with falling numbers of lambs available for processing has made the need for the Brooks plant decrease to a point it is no longer necessary.

“We continue to observe a major shift in consumption from frozen to chilled product as a result of changing lifestyles and increasing demand for fresh, healthy and convenient added-value products,” said SFF chief executive Keith Cooper.

The co-operative is partnering with UK retailers to support their focus on chilled food, and while 2009 New Zealand chilled lambs to Britain grew by 20%, SFF’s growth was significantly higher again he said.

Sixty four employees will lose their jobs because of the Brooks closure, but SFF will retain its Newmarket, Suffolk marketing and logistics operation.

Cooper said part of SFF’s journey towards becoming a fully integrated market led company saw almost all lamb carcasses now being further processed in New Zealand at integrated slaughter and processing plants.

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