AN official ground-breaking ceremony was held this morning on the site of the new Thomas Foods International processing plant site near Murray Bridge in South Australia’s east.
The occasion marked the start of building works on the greenfield site that will emerge over the next two years as a world-class meat processing facility.
TFI chief executive Darren Thomas was joined by South Australia’s Premier, Steven Marshall, along with other state, federal and local community leaders at the event held three years after the devastating Murray Bridge plant fire which destroyed the original facility.
Mr Thomas said the new location, 10km outside of the town of Murray Bridge, was the ideal location for the new facility of Australia’s largest 100pc family-owned meat processing company.
“Our company made a commitment on Day One of the fire to rebuild,” Mr Thomas said during the ceremony.
“We said we’d come back bigger, better and stronger. Since then, we’ve focussed on fulfilling that promise. We’ve faced droughts and a global pandemic along the way but we’ve persevered and maintained a positive outlook.
Mr Thomas said the company saw the new Murray Bridge facility becoming the most advanced multi-species meat processing facility of its kind in Australia, if not the world, servicing its global operations for decades to come.
“This represents the single largest investment by our company in its history. However, we wouldn’t be here today without the support from our staff, suppliers, customers, political leaders and the local community.
“Today is an exciting and humbling occasion. We can’t wait to see it all begin to take shape.”
On January 3, 2018 fire destroyed TFI’s Murray Bridge processing plant. Most importantly, all staff were safely evacuated and no-one was injured.
Last month South Australia’s largest private commercial contractor and one of Australia’s largest privately-owned builders, Badge, was appointed to undertake the design and construction of Stage One of this highly anticipated project. This stage will include:
- Beef processing facilities with an initial capacity of up to 600 head per day
- Animal handling facilities designed to the highest animal welfare standards
- Beef boning room with automated packaging technology
- Employee amenities and administration facilities
- Fully automated carton chilling, freezing and storage systems, and
- Electrical, refrigeration and boiler systems engineered for high energy efficiency.
Construction and commissioning of Stage One is expected to be completed over 24 months, suggesting the plant could be commissioned in early 2023.
The exact timing of the subsequent stages of the development is yet to be determined but will include the addition of smallstock (sheep and lambs) processing facilities and further expansion of the beef facilities in order to take the plant’s total processing capacity to 1200 head of beef and 15,000 head of smallstock per day.
The project is expected to create more than 2000 jobs.