Abat­toir to tar­get ex­ports

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Rueben Hale

It’ll put us in the frame for ex­port list­ings for China and Malaysia. An­drew Fuda

WA’s Western Meat Pack­ers Group founder Rod Rus­sell has taken full con­trol of the com­pany by buying out other fam­ily mem­bers and has an­nounced plans to ex­pand the com­pany’s Mar­garet River fa­cil­ity’s out­put to 570 head of cat­tle a day.

WMPG, which has been op­er­at­ing since 1983, is one of WA’s only re­main­ing in­de­pen­dent beef pro­ces­sors.

Rod and Shana Rus­sell have com­pleted a buy-out of Rus­sell and Lee fam­ily mem­bers in the firm’s Mar­garet River abat­toir, mean­ing the cou­ple now have 100 per cent own­er­ship of all WMPG as­sets.

The com­pany, which em­ploys 360 peo­ple and has an an­nual turnover of about $150 mil­lion, was three years ago con­sid­er­ing a buy­out of­fer from WA-based Craig Mostyn Group and Ja­pan’s S Foods.

Un­der the plan to ex­pand the Mar­garet River fa­cil­ity, the site will be bol­stered with chiller ca­pac­ity up­grades and other fit-outs to ac­com­mo­date de­vel­op­ing ex­port mar­ket prospects.

The up­grade is ex­pected to pro­vide more than 100 jobs.

WMPG chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Fuda said such a pos­i­tive in­vest­ment by the founders sig­nalled an ex­cit­ing stage in the beef com­pany’s fu­ture.

“Al­though we cur­rently send all beef, typ­i­cally sides and quar­ters, overnight to WMPG’s Os­borne Park bon­ing and pack­ing fa­cil­ity to en­sure rapid turn­around from pad­dock to plate, we’re moving towards bon­ing and pack­ing at our Mar­garet River plant to op­ti­mise ex­pand­ing busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in Asia in par­tic­u­lar,” he said.

“A new in­te­grated chiller and freezer unit at Mar­garet River will al­low faster pack­ing and freez­ing, min­imis­ing shrink­age while also im­prov­ing yields of of­fals, which are be­com­ing sought af­ter by WMPG’s Asian ex­port cus­tomers.

“The new fit-out also meant that shifts could be ex­panded and pro­cess­ing could move to seven days, with a weekly slaugh­ter ca­pac­ity of more than 4000 head.

“Also, with chill­ing and freez­ing all un­der one roof and on the site where the cat­tle are slaugh­tered and pro­cessed, it’ll put us in the frame for ex­port list­ings for China and Malaysia, both mar­kets we’ve been work­ing on for quite some time.

“The Western Meat Pack­ers brand and rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity in Asian mar­kets, de­vel­oped and nur­tured over 30-plus years by Rod and se­nior man­age­ment, gives us con­fi­dence that once equipped with the ap­pro­pri­ate list­ings, we can move quickly to sup­ply.”

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