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Alliance has announced plans to reconfigure its Pukeuri operations and run three shifts of beef and two shifts of sheep and lamb processing — a boost in beef production and reduction in sheep.
At present, the Pukeuri plant, north of Oamaru, processes lamb, sheep and cattle and employs about 900 people at the peak of the season.
"The proposed change in configuration of our Pukeuri plant is in response to farmer demand and is a key part of the co-operative’s beef growth strategy," Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said.
"We have seen a steady increase in supply volumes year on year, with our farmers seeking greater beef capacity in peak season.
"For the season to date, we have processed more cattle this year than the previous year."
Alliance Group is one of North Otago’s biggest employers and the change would create a longer season for staff, "providing increased earnings and greater opportunities for staff training and development", Mr Surveyor said.
"This beef expansion reflects our commitment to the Pukeuri plant, which is an important part of our network and the region."
Alliance Group is consulting with staff and the New Zealand Meat Workers and Related Trades Union over the proposed changes, which will take effect later this year.
No redundancies were expected.
During the peak season each year, Alliance employed almost 5000 people across its seven plants and offices, Mr Surveyor said.
This year, it had increased its bovine network capacity by 10% and the proposed changes at Pukeuri would give the company "additional capacity beyond that".
"Our focus on increasing beef capacity and moving stock across our networks means that we have been able to create additional roles across our plants and lengthen the employment season for our people."
While there will be a reduction in ovine capacity at Pukeuri, there will be no changes to ovine processing capacity across Alliance’s plant network.