Domestic Lamb

TFI breaks ground on new Murray Bridge sheep-beef plant

Sheep Central December 16, 2020

Armed with shovels at the TFI Murray Bridge sod-turning were, from left, TFI CEO Darren Thomas, CEO, SA Premier Stephen Marshall and BADGE managing director Jim Whiting, surrounded by official guests.

THE first sods have been turned on Thomas Foods International’s new multi-species plant at Murray Bridge that aims to process up to 15,000 sheep and lambs, and 1200 head of beef, daily.

The official sod-turning event marking the start of building works on the greenfield site was attended by South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, TFI chief executive Darren Thomas and other state, federal and local community leaders.

Less than three years after fire destroyed the company’s former Murray Bridge plant, Mr Thomas said the property about 10km outside of the Murray Bridge town centre was the ideal location for the new flagship facility of Australia’s largest 100 percent family-owned meat processing company.

“Our company made a commitment on Day One of the fire to rebuild.

“We said we’d come back bigger, better and stronger,” Mr Thomas said.

“Since then, we’ve focussed on fulfilling that promise.

“We’ve faced droughts and a global pandemic along the way but we’ve persevered and maintained a positive outlook,” he said.

“We see this becoming the most advanced multi-species meat processing facility of its kind in Australia, if not the world.

“It will service our global operations for decades to come.”

Mr Thomas said the site development represented the single largest investment by the company.

“However, we wouldn’t be here today without the amazing support from our staff, suppliers, customers, political leaders and the local community.

“Today is an exciting and humbling occasion. We can’t wait to see it all begin to take shape.”

On January 3, 2018, fire destroyed TFI’s Murray Bridge processing plant. All staff were safely evacuated and no-one was injured.

Last month, South Australia’s largest private commercial contractor and one of Australia’s largest privately-owned builders, BADGE, was appointed to undertake the design and construction of Stage One of this highly anticipated project. This stage will include:

  • Beef processing facilities with an initial capacity of up to 600 head per day
  • Animal handling facilities designed to the highest animal welfare standards
  • Beef boning room with automated packaging technology
  • Stockyards
  • Employee amenities and administration facilities
  • Fully automated carton chilling, freezing and storage systems
  • Electrical, refrigeration and boiler systems to the highest energy efficiency standards

Construction and commissioning of the new plant’s first stage is expected to be completed over the next 24 months.

The exact timing of the subsequent stages of the development is yet to be determined, but will include the addition of small stock (sheep and lambs) processing facilities and further expansion of the beef facilities in order to take the plant’s total processing capacity to 1,200 head of beef and 15,000 head of small stock per day. The project is expected to create more than 2000 jobs.

An aerial image of what the TFI plant’s first stage will look like.

Thomas Foods International is headquartered in South Australia with operations across Australia and in key international locations. The business specialises in meat processing and distribution globally across the retail, wholesale and food service sectors.

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