Plans for new Southland venison plant expanded
Lorneville's proposed new venison processing plant is set to receive a major expansion.
The Alliance Group unveiled its plans for the new facility last year, but has now revised the project as it seeks to deliver improved efficiencies and value for farmer shareholders.
Originally the plant was going to be housed in a refurbished beef building at its Lorneville plant, but with the new plan a purpose-built facility (at the current Lorneville site) will now be constructed.
The new $15.2 million plan includes design innovations, improved handling facilities, enhanced configuration, increased slaughterboard size, a wider boning room and an increased offal area.
It will also be capable of accommodating technological developments when they become available.
Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said the increased investment would reinforce the co-operative's commitment to the New Zealand deer industry.
"It also demonstrates the company is continuing to deliver on our strategy of investing in the future, lowering our cost base and delivering higher returns to our farmer shareholders."
Surveyor said the decision also reflects Alliance's confidence in the deer industry.
"While the New Zealand venison market has traditionally depended on Germany and the European game season and the euro, Alliance Group is now moving into the US and UK markets with value added propositions.
"A major driver of this is our Pure South programme to increase out of season chilled consumption, coupled with a general growth in seasonal chilled venison – resulting in a more diverse market and currency mix."
The new processing facility is expected to be operational next year.
Alliance processing general manager Kerry Stevens said the new plant would take on board improvements made at other recently built Alliance facilities.
Stevens said while the new plant would be slightly larger, its technological improvements would significantly increase efficiency.
"We originally had planned to go ahead with the refurbishment, but once we started working on it we thought we could do better starting with a brand new plant.
"The old building did fit, but it wasn't perfect.
"We wanted to make sure we got it right and make all the improvements that we could."
In the meantime, deer will continue to be processed at Alliance's Makarewa plant near Invercargill and Smithfield plant in Timaru.
The Smithfield plant will remain a vital part of Alliance Group's venison processing operations, Surveyor said.
In the original announcement in October 2016, it was expected that the plant would be up and running by July 2017.
Alliance company secretary Danny Hailes said the processing plant at Makarewa had been operating since 1999, but with the sale of the land there was an opportunity to create a "state of the art" facility specifically for deer processing.