One to close, one to ex­pand

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RYAN DUN­LOP

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.

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