Value-added growth for Silver Fern Farms

The Silver Fern Farms branded range of retail meat products are now available in more than 1,000 retail stores.

The country’s largest meat processor Silver Fern Farms (SFF) continued to grow its value-added business, increase its chilled meat sales, and make further significant progress in improving its health and safety performance alongside creating a sustainable capital structure for the company in the year ending September 2016.

Dean Hamilton, Silver Fern Farms.

“We achieved a 31 percent increase on our value-added sales of Silver Fern Farms branded products through retail and foodservice channels in New Zealand and overseas,” reports SFF chief executive Dean Hamilton.

Sales increased in New Zealand and in Germany where the Silver Fern Farms branded retail range was launched in March. The range is now stocked in over 1,000 stores.

Hamilton says the company’s focus on selling a greater proportion of product in chilled form led to positive results: “With over 40 percent of our prime beef being sold chilled and over 30 percent of our lamb sales.”

About 15 million stock units were processed and sold by the 7,000 employees – an enormous effort, he says.

Commitment to health and safety also saw progress being made. This took the form of increased safe behaviour conversations, new enhanced protective clothing and equipment, consistent best practice standards across plants, real time online hazard and incident reporting and SFF’s own ORA review system have all contributed to an over 24 percent reduction in lost-time injury frequency across the company.

The information was contained within the cooperative’s recently announced annual result for the 12 months ending September 2016, which revealed a net operating loss, before tax and impairment, of $7.5 million for the year. This  compared against a net operating profit of $30.8 million and income of $2.5 billion the year before.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $32.1 million, down from $90.5 million, the prior year.

This result was particularly disappointing and reflected a very challenging year across the industry, said chair Rob Hewett.

Since the year end, the company has completed the $267 million investment by Shanghai Maling and announced that SFF Co-operative shareholders will receive a $34.5 million special dividend on 14 February.

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (February/March 2017) and is reproduced here with permission.

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