Meat processors about to wind down

Bruce McNaught
Bruce McNaught
South Canterbury and North Otago's big meat processing companies will soon scale down operations for winter maintenance.

Alliance Smithfield is processing sheep and lamb which is expected to finish at the end of July, when there is likely to be a shutdown for maintenance.

Sheep and lamb processing will recommence in early November.

''Venison processing finished in early May and will come back on at the end of June,''acting plant manager Ivan Docherty said.

''We are currently operating two chains and processing four days a week.''

He said this was expected to increase when Alliance Group's Lorneville plant in Southland closed for annual maintenance within the next week.

Silver Fern Farms' Pareora plant manager Bruce McNaught said they would soon go into a shutdown period to allow for seasonal maintenance and to complete some capital projects.

''From a production point of view, the investment in upskilling some of the existing workforce as well as training new personnel early in the season paid dividends.

''We had three lamb chains operational at the start of December, and were then able to move people over to beef processing as we scaled back our lamb capacity when the flows came off.

''This improved our efficiency and overall throughput at the plant.''

It has been a good year for the Pareora plant.

''On the health and safety front we are showing year-on-year improvements and we put a big focus on early intervention and wellbeing of our people.''

In April, Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand's biggest meat processor with 14 plants around the country and half owned by Chinese company Shanghai Maling, reported a net profit before tax of $2.4million for the 2018 financial year.

The after-tax result for the period was a net profit of $900,000. This reversed an after-tax loss of $5.6million in 2017.

Mr Docherty said Alliance Smithfield had a successful recruitment drive this season but still had vacancies for suitable people, particularly in the lamb boning area.

''At the moment, we have 450 staff and that will increase to 480 when the venison processing begins again.''

Further south, at Alliance Pukeuri, plant manager Phil Shuker said sheep processing finished two months ago but the plant had since been processing beef to full capacity, seven days a week.

''We have one chain and three shifts operating and this enables us to process seven days a week.''

''We anticipate our annual shut-down for maintenance will be at the end of June or the beginning of July.

''The new season is expected to begin at the end of July and we will be recruiting for between 100 to 200 new seasonal employees.''

The plant employs 600 people.

-By Chris Tobin

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