A NEW $280 million meat further-processing and distribution facility in south-east Queensland was officially opened yesterday, servicing the growing needs of Woolworths supermarkets across eastern Australia.
Total store numbers for Woolworths across Australia recently went past 1000, as the company’s demand for convenient retail-ready and value-added meat products – both within Australia and for export overseas – continues to grow.
Hilton Foods Australia’s Heathwood processing facility south of Brisbane has created more than 650 new jobs, with more on the cards when it ramps up to full production next year.
Heathwood will deliver more than 1500 tonnes of fresh red meat to more than 450 Woolworths stores in NSW and Queensland each week. The facility is the third opened in Australia in the past eight years to exclusively service Woolworths’ needs, joining similar facilities in Melbourne and Perth.
It will produce a wide array of retail ready packed meat products, both portion-cut steak cuts, mince, diced meats and sausages, and corned meats, together with value-added lines like marinated meats, pre-cooked heat-and-serve and other red meat items.
“This is one of the most innovative facilities of its kind in the world and a real showpiece of advanced food manufacturing in Queensland,” minister for state development and manufacturing, Cameron Dick said during yesterday’s opening.
“Workers will operate robotics and man 23 state-of-the-art production lines to provide packaged meat and vegan products to Woolworths supermarkets locally and interstate,” Mr Dick said.
“Brisbane’s central location, excellent transport network and Queensland’s highly trained workforce were all factors in HFA’s decision to bring their operations to Heathwood.
Renewable energy installation
The Heathwood facility will boast the second largest rooftop photo-voltaic solar installation in Australia, consisting of 6000 solar panels, the opening gathering was told.
Hilton Foods Australia’s solar installation at the facility will generate 2800MWh per annum, providing about 50 percent of the site’s total energy requirements.
Heat will also be harnessed from the facility’s refrigeration compressors, with an automated heat recovery system that will see 100,000L of water heated per day, saving 170MWh of energy a year.
Hilton Foods Australia chief executive officer Pat McEntee said the opening was a big milestone for the company.
“We are proud to be joining the local community in Heathwood and contributing to economic growth with new employment opportunities and service contracts,” he said.
“We value our partnership with Woolworths and look forward to assisting in developing a faster and fresher supply of high-quality meat and value-added products.”
Woolworths director of fresh food Paul Harker said Hilton Foods Australia was a valued supply partner to Woolworths, processing high-quality fresh meat for customers across Australia.
“It’s pleasing to see our long-term supply relationship with Hilton Foods Australia underpin this important new investment and job creation in Queensland,” Mr Harker said.
“We’re fortunate to source our fresh meat from the best Australian producers, and it’s important we uphold the quality of their product from paddock to plate.
“The opening of this state-of-the-art facility in Heathwood will help us deliver a consistently great fresh meat offer. It will also improve stock availability for our Queensland customers each and every day,” he said.
Local member for Jordan, Charis Mullen, said the benefits of such a large local workforce would be felt across the region.
“The majority of workers here live locally, so they will shop local and support great local businesses along the supply chain,” Ms Mullen said. “This is another great manufacturing facility in Queensland that will help strengthen the sector and shore up our state’s economic future.”
- Beef Central has been invited by Hilton Foods chief executive Pat McEntee to visit and inspect the new Heathwood facility. Stand by for a report in coming weeks.