Amendments to Victorian State Government land use plans have laid the foundations for future expansion and redevelopment at G&K O’Connor’s export abattoir at Pakenham, on Melbourne’s south-eastern fringe.
O’Connors is one of the largest export abattoirs in southern Australia, currently employing about 300 staff.
Victoria’s planning minister Matthew Guy this week issued a statement confirming that his Government had amended the local planning scheme to accommodate expansion at the abattoir.
While the company is reluctant to detail its plans for future development work at this stage, chief executive Matt O’Connor told Beef Central yesterday that the decision would underpin future development plans.
“The amendments to the planning scheme opens up a range of growth options to us,” he said.
Over the years, Pakenham has started to be absorbed by Melbourne’s urban sprawl. The town was a remote rural town when the O’Connors plant was established there 36 years ago.
The Government’s decision to amend local planning requirements is partly in recognition of the business’s position as one of the area’s largest employers.
“What this is really about is the fact that zoning for the plant is based on very old rural zoning conditions, which have changed over time as the population has grown,” Mr O’Connor said.
“In order to underpin our plans for future investment, we really needed some amendments made to the planning scheme that governs our site to secure its future, to allow us to push ahead with some of these plans,” he said.
“Securing that amendment gives us the opportunity to look at a range of different growth options.”
Details would be announced at some future time, he said, but are likely to include cold storage capacity, and changes to operations that would ‘add value to the product.’
O’Connors is a high quality chilled grass and grainfed export beef plant, currently about 70/30 export to domestic, based on production volumes. The business is accredited for export to a wide range of markets including Halal, EU and China. Japan remains the company’s biggest export destination, and the business continues to include a small Japanese shareholding today.
The production is packed under a range of brands, most under the O’Connor name.
Recent government economic impact studies on the benefits of further development of the O’Connors site came up with a regional economic impact worth $315 million over time.
The plant sources a lot of its kill out of the Gippsland region east and north of Melbourne, but processes cattle from across Victoria.