Taking the slack
Small abattoirs step up
THE closure of sheep and cattle lines at the Devonport abattoir is providing a boost to other Tasmanian meatworks as they take on extra stock and look to expand operations.
International meat-processing giant JBS shocked the Tasmanian meat industry last month when it announced it would stop operating its meatworks at Quoiba.
A new company called Devonport Pork, guaranteed by established processor Tasmanian Quality Meats, reopened on Tuesday but with 80 fewer staff.
The plant processed cattle, lambs and pigs under JBS but will now be a pig-only facility.
Wal’s Bulk Meats at Stowport is one of the abattoirs to take on extra lambs and cattle to not only help the industry in a time of change but also boost its business.
Tim Plapp said things were a “little crazy” at the moment but the business was expecting to invest in new infrastructure in line with more production.
“We would be doing 100 cattle and 500 lambs a week now. We have put a few extra people on and looking at expanding infrastructure in line with that,” Mr Plapp said.
“While the JBS decision threw everyone at first, it has turned out to be a good thing for us.”
The Stowport facility was one of several to put up their hand to take on extra livestock as the industry scrambled for solutions. Others included Gretna Meatworks, Huon Valley Meats at Cradoc, Tasmanian Quality Meats at Cressy and a Fingal meatworks.
The new owner of the Cradoc abattoir Shane Griggs said his business had put on two extra workers and increased production from one day to three days a week as livestock normally processed at Devonport came south.
“We may look to ramp it up depending on demand,” Mr Griggs said.
“We can take on a little bit more with what we have got – about 80 head of cattle a week – but would then have to look to expand.”
Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett has set up a meatindustry working group to provide advice and recommendations to the State Government on the future of Tasmania’s livestock industry.
Mr Barnett said the group would look at short and medium-term actions as well as long-term strategy to underpin a sustainable industry.
He said the group would also look at ways to increase the trade, marketing, value and sales of the state’s meat sector.
The working group will be chaired by Liberal Member for Montgomery, Leonie Hiscutt.
Mrs Hiscutt said the group was confident the Tasmanian meat industry had a bright future.
She said the group would seek input from stakeholders including producers, livestock agents, buyers, wholesalers, transport operators and other industry representatives.