CMP crew celebrate record

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 11:30 05/07/2012
CMP

Record smashed: Canterbury Meat Packers' Marlborough staff including engineers, slaughter crew, freezer loadout staff, meat inspectors, administration staff and management celebrate their team effort in setting a new plant record this season

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The Canterbury Meat Packers Marlborough crew have more to celebrate than the end of a season of hard work.

The staff at the CMP plant in Riverlands, Blenheim, slaughtered and processed 58,189 cattle this season, smashing their previous record of 53,000 from five years ago.

The plant kills bull and manufacturing cows from farms from Canterbury to the top of the South Island.

The season runs from October to June and includes a "peak cow period" for six weeks from late April when the plant is open for extended hours, seven days a week, and staff numbers peak to about 175.

Although they usually like to "fly under the radar", general manager Gary Lindsay said the increased productivity had been achieved because of the cohesion and hard work of his staff.

"We've been working with the team for about three years to find out where the pinch points were and fixed a lot of things ...

"There were very few physical changes, but we couldn't have done it without the willingness of our team to make those changes. We have a very strong team culture here." Increasing the volume of stock processed in a season improved the plant's productivity and staff who were paid per beast, had more money in their pockets at the end of the season, he said.

During the off season, some staff picked up work in the vineyards, and others liked to take a break to give their bodies a rest and spend time with their families, he said.

The Marlborough plant is owned by beef and lamb exporters Anzco.

It is one of three in the South Island that slaughters and processes grass-fed bull and manufacturing cow beef destined for overseas markets, predominantly the United States.

CMP Marlborough is a "hot boning" plant, which involves slaughtering, boning, packing and freezing the cuts, under strict animal welfare and food and safety regulatory controls. From slaughter to freezer, the process must be done in under an hour.

The cuts are shipped to customers such as fast-food franchises McDonald's and Burger King in the United States, who grind the lean New Zealand meat and combine it with higher-fat grain-fed beef.

Although it was a good year for throughput, the volatile New Zealand dollar made it very hard to do business, he said.

"The high New Zealand dollar has been very hard on the export meat industry and for any export industry," Mr Lindsay said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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