THOMAS Foods International has this afternoon finalised a deal to purchase the Bourke meat processing facility in northwest New South Wales from Darling River Goat Exports.
Under the agreement, TFI takes over the smallstock abattoir with plans to re-open the modern facility, expand its operations and employ more than 120 staff.
No sale price has been disclosed.
The Darling River Goat Exports plant opened in January 2019 but was closed by its original owners in May that year, citing challenges including seasonal conditions at the time.
Thomas Foods International livestock manager Paul Leonard said the facility would be further upgraded before it is re-opened next year. Despite its capacity to kill a range of smallstock including lambs and sheep, Bourke would be used as a ‘pure-play’ goat facility.
The company currently kills small numbers of goats at Tamworth and Lobethal, but the Tamworth goat kill is likely to stop after Bourke opens – possibly to be substituted by lambs or sheep.
“We see strong potential in this Bourke facility to service local farmers and create employment opportunities in the region,” Mr Leonard said.
“Thomas Foods International has a reputation of making significant continuous investment in our operations across Australia and we will bring the same approach to Bourke.
TFI is looking to make a range of capital improvements to the site over the coming months including the addition of freezing and rendering facilities.
The plan is to begin processing both skin-on and skin-off goats from around mid-2022.
Improved seasonal conditions and prices have seen the goat population grow significantly in recent times with many farmers in NSW and Queensland now running goats “behind wire” in fenced properties.
“We’ve also seen more female goats retained to assist with breeding rates,” Mr Leonard said.
“At the same time the market conditions are favourable. Goat is one of the most widely eaten proteins in the world. We maintain a positive market outlook with strong demand from customers across the globe from Asia to North America and the Caribbean.”
Demand for goatmeat in Australia’s largest export market, the US, has grown this year in both retail and food service channels, as COVID restrictions ease across the US.
As the Bourke facility’s new owner, Thomas Foods International brings with it a strong track record in procurement, processing and distribution as well as established global market networks. TFI is currently paying a record $10.20/kg carcase weight for suitable goats, skin-off.
“We’re confident the Bourke plant will become a successful long-running operation for the region,” Mr Leonard said.
Thomas Foods International expects to employ more than 120 people at the facility and is currently seeking registrations of interest.
“We’d love to hear from anyone in the local community who is keen to join our team,” Mr Leonard said.
People wishing to register their interest to work at the Bourke plant can contact TFI here.
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