As a result of the pending expiry of its lease, and change in surrounding land use, Silver Fern Farms is consulting with staff at its Islington venison processing plant on options for closing the site and building a new integrated venison processing plant at its Pareora site, in South Canterbury.
Silver Fern farms currently leases land on the Waterloo Road site. The lease is shortly due to expire and the current plant buildings on the site are planned to be demolished to make way for new commercial developments at the Waterloo Business Park.
Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton says staying on the Waterloo Business Park site is no longer an option for the company.
“Islington is the only one of our 19 plants around the country that occupies a leased site. Over the past year and a half the site around us has been re-developed into a commercial business park, which is good for the area, however, it’s not going to be suitable for our specific processing operations going forward,” Mr Hamilton says.
“Given the circumstances, we plan to close the site and are consulting with the 54 Islington staff and their union to discuss the proposal and transfer options within the company.
“Our Islington venison team are skilled and dedicated people and we have options for them to transfer to other sites either locally, to Belfast or Fairton, to our Hokitika venison plant, or to the new venison processing operation at our Pareora site, and they will retain all their service benefits in the process. We appreciate there are some big decisions ahead for our people, which makes it a difficult time for them and we are working with them and their union.”
With the planned closure of the Islington site, the company’s Pareora lamb and beef processing plant, south of Timaru, has been chosen to have a $5m investment to house a new modern venison processing operation which will service the upper and central South Island.
“Pareora is the obvious site. It is central to many of our deer farmers. We own the land and therefore provides long-term certainty. We can take advantage of existing assets and services already on site (such as our cold chain). It is an opportunity for us to invest in a modern venison plant and we have the ability to continue to expand our operations on that site in the future.”
“As New Zealand’s largest venison processor, we’re excited by the opportunity to add modern and efficient processing capacity to service our loyal suppliers and growing international demand for Silver Fern Farms venison.”