$28m loss unlikely to end in job cuts

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2013

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A $28 million loss for Silver Fern Farms will not affect staff numbers at the Pareora plant, management says.

The meat processor reported the year to September loss last week, with PricewaterhouseCoopers called in to review the business.

It said sheepmeat market consumption and pricing continued to decrease in the first half of the 2012/13 year, resulting in further writedowns of balance date stocks.

Wayne Shaw, Silver Fern Farms operations manager for sheepmeats and venison, said staffing numbers at Pareora had not been affected.

"The first and second chains started around the same time as last season. Given the stock forecast, it is unlikely that there will be as much need for our people to work overtime as they did last season.

"Changes in the company's sales mix means that it is likely Pareora will be self-sufficient with a balanced mix between slaughter and further processing."

Nationwide, sheep and lamb numbers were down, he said.

"Beef and Lamb New Zealand's annual livestock survey clarifies the reduction in lamb and mutton numbers for 2013/14. Export lamb slaughter is expected to reduce by 8.5 per cent to 18.6 million head; mutton slaughter is expected to reduce by 22 per cent to 3.2 million head."

Smithfield plant manager Rob Lindsay said numbers had been steady, with the Smithfield and Pukeuri plants running four chains between them.

"In previous years there have been three chains running between here and Pukeuri; we've been quite busy from August to the end of October.

"It's been pretty consistent coming through and we're happy with the way things are going."

South Canterbury Federated Farmers meat and and fibre chairman Miles Anderson said farmers were very concerned about the direction in which the sheep and meat industry was headed.

He said the upcoming Meat Industry Excellence (MIE)-endorsed director elections would be indicative of the industry.

"MIE have been advocating change and put forward candidates for the food co-operative. I'm a bit concerned that we are still seeing sheep numbers decreasing."

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