One to close, one to expand
After announcing plans to close its Fairton operation, Silver Fern Farms looks set to invest another $1 million at its Pareora plant.
The money would add to the $7 million already spent expanding the South Canterbury plant’s venison area and new cold storage facilities. It could bring another 100 jobs with it, perhaps providing work for those who will lose their jobs if the company’s Fairton plant near Ashburton closes.
Silver Fern Farms has confirmed it wants to close Fairton, making 370 positions redundant. It said 230 jobs may be available to suitably qualified workers at the company’s Pareora, Belfast and Hokitika plants.
Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton said extra people would be needed in Pareora as processing capacity shifted from Ashburton. If Fairton closed, as the company expected, it would make a ‘‘significant investment’’ at the Pareora plant, he confirmed.
That would create about 100 jobs at Pareora – a combination of new roles and ‘‘natural’’ openings left by non-returning seasonal workers.
Candidates – from Fairton or elsewhere – would be assessed for their suitability upon application, he said.
Fairton had a six-month season while Pareora – where cattle, lamb, venison and bobby calves were processed – had a longer season, he said.
Silver Fern Farms shifted bobby calf processing from Fairton to Pareora last year, after failing to reach an agreement for a later start time to the season at Fairton.
It invested in its Pareora venison plant as it decommissioned its venison plant at Islington in Christchurch.
Overall, the shift would not mean a significant change in how the company secured its meat supply, Hamilton said.
‘‘Eighty per cent of suppliers to Fairton already supply to Pareora. We are very keen to retain all that supply and grow it.
‘‘I don’t think the move to consolidate volume at Pareora will have an impact on end market pricing.’’
Aoraki Development chief executive Nigel Davenport said the likely closure of the Fairton plant was sad news for those affected, but that the Canterbury community ought to act to help find people new employment.