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New Foods Business To Be Located In Waitara

MEDIA RELEASE
26 February 2004

New Processed Foods Business To Be Located In Waitara

The Taranaki township of Waitara is to become the home of a new processed foods business which expects to be generating export earnings of $100 million annually by the end of 2006.

Plans for the new venture have been announced in New Zealand by ANZCO Foods Ltd and in Japan by Itoham Foods Inc. The two companies will form a 50/50 joint venture to manufacture beef patties, hamburgs, salamis, beef jerky and sausages on the five hectare site of the former Waitara meat plant which is situated near the centre of the town.

ANZCO Foods has purchased the site from the Hastings based Aotearoa Coolstores Ltd who have operated the retained cold storage complex after most of the buildings were demolished following the slaughter plant closure in 1998.

The largest user of the coldstores has been Riverlands Ltd, a fully owned ANZCO Foods subsidiary, which has beef slaughter and processing plants at Eltham and Bulls.

The new joint venture company will commence construction of a 3,000 square metre complex in April and intends to start exports in September. The manufacturing facilities will be highly mechanised and are expected to employ around 70 people by the end of next year.

The total investment in land, buildings and machinery will exceed $20 million and is expected to manufacture over 20,000 tonnes of product annually.

ANZCO Foods and Itoham Foods have a long history of working together. In 1989 they jointly established Five Star Beef Ltd and opened in 1991 what is New Zealand’s only large scale cattle feedlot in Mid Canterbury.

Subsequently Itoham Foods joined forces with ANZCO to purchase the collapsed Fortex Ashburton slaughter plant and eventually became ANZCO Foods largest shareholder in a management led buy-out of the New Zealand Meat Producers Board’s shareholding in the company in 1995.

ANZCO Foods was established in 1984 and has grown to become one of New Zealand’s largest exporters with annual sales of almost $900 million. It has five slaughter and processing sites in New Zealand, operating as Canterbury Meat Packers and Riverlands, along with an export processed foods plant in Dunedin, and a network of marketing offices located in Japan, Taiwan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Belgium.

Itoham Foods is Japan’s second largest processed meats manufacturer and meat distribution company. Founded in 1928, Itoham Foods has been listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange since 1961.

“New Zealand’s animal health status and the long trusting relationship between Itoham and ANZCO have been key elements in bringing the new venture to New Zealand”, said Graeme Harrison, Chairman of ANZCO Foods.

The transfer of manufacturing to New Zealand will result in closures in some of Itoham’s existing operations. The new venture will access beef from ANZCO’s existing five slaughter plants, with utilisation of young bull beef being a feature.

“The location of the new business in Waitara can be attributed to the achievements of the Riverlands plant at Eltham. After a difficult start back in 1996, Riverlands Eltham has been a strong performer and is ANZCO’s largest beef slaughter plant, employing 580 people in Taranaki”, said Graeme Harrison.

The plant will manufacture beef patties, hamburgs and sausages for the food service sector and salami and beef jerky for retail. While the initial focus will be on sales to Japan, other market opportunities will be pursued through ANZCO’s sales network.

“We see this as a real opportunity to add value to our existing beef operations at Five Star Beef, Canterbury Meat Packers and Riverlands. While we are already probably the New Zealand meat industry’s largest exporter of manufactured meats processed at our plant in Dunedin, the new venture will be a significant step up”, said Graeme Harrison.

ANZCO Foods is owned by three shareholding groupings comprising Itoham Foods Inc (48.2 percent), Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd (25.2 percent) and Directors and Management (26.6 percent).

ENDS

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