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Silver Fern Farms to build new meat plant at Te Aroha

Thursday 21st April 2011

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Silver Fern Farms is to spend tens of millions of dollars building a new beef-processing plant at Te Aroha, after a fire in December badly damaged the existing plant there and put it out of operation.

The proposal was subject to final board and other approvals including union agreement on manning arrangements, the company said.

Silver Fern Farms also announced it had bought the Wallace Corporation's meat processing plant at nearby Waitoa.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper said the Te Aroha facility was being designed in consultation with internationally recognised experts in process layout and ergonomics, and incorporating the latest technologies, including sophisticated traceability and yield collection systems.

The focus was on improving environmental efficiency while reducing costs through better use of resources and reduction of waste. The new plant would use significantly less electricity and water per head and discharge less effluent per head processed, Cooper said.

It was probably the first material investment in the meat industry in this country in many years, he told Radio NZ today.

The facility would cost tens of millions of dollars, but not more than $100 million. With its new design it had yet to be fully costed.

He believed it would be possible to start work in about four weeks, with construction to take about nine months.

The Te Aroha plant, along with the company's Paeroa plant and the Waitoa facility, gave Silver Fern a good model for servicing the Waikato area, Cooper said.

From Silver Fern Farms' perspective the purchase of the Waitoa plant made total sense, with rationalisation needed to ensure the long term sustainability of the red meat processing sector.

Wallace Corporation chief executive Graham Shortland said the sale of the Waitoa meat plant potentially brought forward other plans.

Wallace is retaining its rendering, tanning, farming and casualty stock collection business at Waitoa, and Mr Shortland said the company had been planning significant investments in environmental initiatives there.

It had been planning capability expansion and further development in tanning and rendering of co-products to take advantage of new technologies and to be able to undertake forecast growth.



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