Blue Sky Meats betting on its future

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 10/07/2014
graham cooney
JOHN HAWKINS/ Fairfax NZ

LOOKING FORWARD: Blue Sky Meats chairman Graham Cooney at the meat processing plant near Morton Mains.

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Blue Sky Meats is making a significant capital investment at its chilled products plant.

A specialist area being built inside the plant is expected to be ready for the new sheepmeat season in November.

Chairman Graham Cooney said the investment would increase the year-round chilled volumes, the range of product options and revenue.

"This [investment] is not about being competitive with other meat exporters because there is plenty of markets to share, its more about improving the profitability of Blue Sky," he said.

He would not give an exact cost for the investment, but said it was significant for the scale of the business.

"We are not a big company, and this is significant in relation to our turnover and profit."

It took longer to ship products to European markets, and the new chilled area would ensure integrity around the quality of meat was maintained, he said.

New Asian markets were also looking for more chilled products,.

The percentage of Blue Sky Meats-exported chilled products was slightly below the New Zealand [meat processor] average, he said.

Part of the reason was the location of the business in Southland, and the other was supply.

"There is a significant Christmas market we can't supply because lambs are not ready."

The new area in the plant would give the business more leverage in the Easter market and the opportunity to change the range of products.

Blue Sky is a processor of lamb, mutton, bobby veal and goat, but the numbers of sheep were reducing every year, he said.

The plant is capable of processing up to 30 thousand stock units a week, and includes specialised boning and cutting rooms that during the peak season operate 20 hours a day, seven days a week.

The business will consider getting into multi-species slaughter, which is what more suppliers are asking for.

"The pressure is on to do so, and we are looking at the best way," Cooney said.

In his annual result report, Cooney said transparency was critical in an industry that would be driven by future demand to secure constant supply for international exporters.

Another capital expense for the future would include technology to reduce energy costs, Cooney said.

Blue Sky Meats recouped losses from last year, recording a profit of almost $2 million for the year ended March 31.

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- The Southland Times

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