Processing

Upgraded export licence delivers global red meat markets for Cootamundra

Sheep Central, September 19, 2014

An upgraded Tier-Two export licence has opened up a portfolio of new export market opportunities for Manildra Meat Company’s Cootamundra export and domestic lamb and beef plant.

Under its former Tier-One export licence, Cootamundra was eligible to export to around 25 countries, but that figure has now doubled.

The process to upgrade to Tier-Two status was put in train well before diversified agribusiness, Manildra Group, bought the Cootamundra plant earlier this year (click here to view Sheep Central’s earlier sale report) but it was an attractive feature in the purchase decision, management said at the time.

Manildra Meat Co chief executive Len Jones told the local Cootamundra Herald that the transition to Tier Two status this week provided access into Saudi Arabia, which is a massive sheep market for Australia, as well as Taiwan, where Australian beef is gaining momentum.

The company is working with the Department of Agriculture towards listing for the US, which would open up another lucrative market for beef and sheepmeat. USDA accreditation is expected by the end of the year.

Increased export opportunities which shore up the future of the plant will, however, have an impact on local clients, the Cootamundra Herald suggested.

Previously, the bread and butter of former owners, GM Scott had been service kills for local clients. Under the new direction taken by the company, however, service kills will no longer be available due to expansion in export business taking up available capacity.

“We have spoken to all of our service kill clients and have advised that they will need to look for alternative arrangements,” Mr Jones said.

Butchery clients previously using service kills would be able to purchase meat from the Manildra chillers at competitive rates. He anticipated this change would be complete within six months, giving clients time to put new arrangements in place.

“The direction of the meat industry is that we need significant volumes to remain sustainable and that is the reason for the change,” Mr Jones told the Herald.

“It is also important we control the product we process from the farm gate to sale.”

When Manildra Group took ownership of the meatworks in July, it said it was keen to increase production on the under-utilised cattle chain. That part of the business has been steadily growing, since.

Prior to Manildra’s ownership, GM Scott had processed only around 150 cattle a week, on top of its large lamb kill, but that number has now grown to 500/week, with plans to expand to 750/week within a matter of months.

The extra cattle production has resulted in 12 new jobs being created to cater for that side of the business.

Employment in general has increased under Manildra’s ownership, with a current staffing level of 225, up from 200 prior to purchase.

A large amount of capital expenditure has been taking place at the plant, including an upgrade to the effluent ponds which have tripled in capacity, in line with plant expansion. A new blast freezer is planned, and Manildra is in the process of re-designing the beef floor.

“I’m very confident that what is happening at Manildra will secure the future of the business,” Mr Jones told the Herald.

 

  • At least one other large southern beef and sheep processor is currently in transition to Tier Two export status. More details on Sheep Central next month.

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