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Opening of Silver Fern Farms’ Te Aroha plant

This release is embargoed until 12 midday Thursday 6th December 2012.

‘Official opening of Silver Fern Farms’ Te Aroha plant welcome news for the local community’

Nearly two years after Silver Fern Farms’ Te Aroha beef processing operation was devastated by fire in December 2010, the Rt. Hon. John Key, Prime Minister, today officially opened the company’s new flagship plant on the same site.

Silver Fern Farms Chairman, Eoin Garden, and Chief Executive, Keith Cooper, welcomed a large gathering of all those associated with the rebuild including contractors, local government representatives, local iwi and members of the Te Aroha community.

At the opening, Mr Garden said the investment of $67m to commission the state-of-the-art facility was testament to the co-operative’s strong confidence in the sector and he indicated the clear alignment of this investment with the Government’s business growth agenda.

Mr Cooper spoke of the importance this plant has, not only to farmer-suppliers in the surrounding rural areas, but also to the local Te Aroha community. The fact the plant will be fully operational ahead of the new season is welcome news for the township, with the prospect it will employ up to 380 staff when operating at full capacity.

“The whole community has been behind the project every step of the way” said Te Aroha Plant Manager, Lance Warmington. “The company’s commitment to rebuilding Te Aroha is a big deal here - it means future security for hundreds of families in the area.”

Throughout the rebuilding process, Silver Fern Farms endeavoured to provide alternative options for staff whose livelihoods were affected by the fire, to the extent of making positions available at neighbouring plants and providing accommodation supplements in the early stages. In tough times, the company’s significant capital spend also has provided positive spin-offs to the local economy as a result of the number of contractors throughout the region engaged during the course of construction.

“Our whole team are extremely proud of the facility we’ve designed and created” Mr Warmington added. “The company culture and the Silver Fern Farms brand and all it stands for are really embedded in the overall look and feel of the new plant, and our people are responding really positively to the new working environment.”

Developed in consultation with internationally recognised experts in process layout and ergonomics, the plant incorporates the latest meat processing technologies, including sophisticated traceability and yield collection systems. Mr Cooper said the new design reflects the company’s focus on plant economics and best practice processing, and that eco-efficiency and sustainability were top of mind considerations.

“The rebuild gave us the opportunity to review the environmental footprint of our operation. Our focus is improving environmental efficiency while reducing costs through better use of resources and reduction of waste.” said Mr Cooper. “As a result, the plant sets a new industry benchmark in line with global customer requirements - it uses significantly less electricity and water per head and discharges less effluent per head processed.”

In his address, Mr Cooper also thanked the co-operative’s loyal farmer-suppliers in the area for supporting the company through the re-build.

“We are grateful to those suppliers who have stood by us and persevered while we got the new plant up and running – we know the disruption has been an inconvenience for many. But we are enthusiastic about the service levels and advantages we can now offer them as a result of our investment.”

The company intends to open the plant to farmer-suppliers and the local community in a series of open days in February 2013.

Release ENDS -

Notes to Editors – Silver Fern Farms:
- Silver Fern Farms is New Zealand’s leading processor and marketer of lamb, mutton, beef, venison and associated products to more than 60 countries.
- The company’s vision: Inspirational Food Created by Passionate People.
- Silver Fern Farms is a farmer-controlled co-operative representing more than 16,000 farmer shareholders.
- The company operates 23 processing facilities throughout the country, employing more than 7,000 staff in the peak of season.
- Key markets in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe, Asia and the Middle East are supported through a network of 8 international offices.

Notes to Editors – Silver Fern Farms Te Aroha

Key facts:
- Located in the Matamata-Piako district, located south-east of Auckland and east of Hamilton.
- Serving suppliers in the Te Aroha, Morrinsville, Matamata, Waitoa and greater Waikato area.
- Hot boned beef processing operation designed for best practice processing of manufacturing cows, steers, bulls and heifers.
- Will employ up to 380 staff on site at the peak of the processing operation with a full two-shift operation.
- New state-of-the-art two-level custom-designed Milmeq slaughterboard.
- New Marel Streamline computerised deboning and trimming system - designed for complete traceability and to enable Silver Fern Farms to closely monitor and control critical key production indicators in real time throughout the complete processing cycle.
- Health and safety focus – processing areas designed to minimise workstation hazards with ergonomic workstations to maximise productivity by minimising operator fatigue and discomfort; new separate viewing area for process observation; plant oriented on site to ensure separation between pedestrian and heavy vehicle areas; full site security.

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