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New Murray Bridge abattoir to employ 2000

Business

South Australian meat processor Thomas Farms International says it will spend several hundred million dollars on a new Murray Bridge abattoir, creating up to 2000 new jobs.

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The family-owned company this morning announced that it would build the facility on a greenfield site 10 km from the town centre.

It would replace the company’s former Murray Bridge plant, which was destroyed by fire in January last year.

Thomas Foods International expects to start construction “as soon as possible” and for stage one of the development to open by November next year, employing 400 workers during the initial stages of production and increasing to 2000 once the plant is fully operational.

“This is the single largest investment by our company in its 30-year history and on a scale not seen in our industry for many years,” said chief executive officer Darren Thomas in a statement.

“We plan to build the best, most advanced multi-species processing facility in Australia, if not the world.

“We want our facility to be world-class in adapting the latest advancements in technology, efficiency, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and workplace safety.”

He said building the plant showed the company’s commitment to its staff, customers and livestock suppliers.

Premier Steven Marshall welcomed the announcement, adding that his government and the federal Coalition Government were contributing road and utility infrastructure to support the planned plant’s operations.

“The state Liberal Government is investing in productive infrastructure to build our regions, unlock economic potential and create more jobs,” said Marshall.

“When we have stronger regions, we build a stronger South Australia, and these types of investments show the confidence national and international businesses have in our state as an ideal place to operate.

“This is a proudly South Australian company that is a great advocate for promoting our state’s amazing premium produce in overseas markets.”

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas also welcomed the announcement.

Thomas Foods International chief operating officer David McKay said the company had secured land for the plant and worked with engineers to ensure the facility featured “world-class environmentally friendly design”.

“From the fire has come a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to build a brand new flagship facility that will service our global operations for many decades to come,” he said.

“This will be a technically advanced facility to deliver the highest standards in beef and lamb processing.”

The company plans to build the plant in stages, with the beef processing facilities to be constructed first.

It will be located eight kilometres from the original processing plant and occupy a larger site.

Thomas added that his company had committed “from day one” after the fire to rebuilding its Murray Bridge operations.

“The fire was a major disruption to the business and the lives of many of our people, not just in Murray Bridge but right across our operations,” he said.

“… Rather than lament what we’ve lost, we’ve chosen to focus on emerging bigger, better and stronger.

“… I’m extremely grateful to all our staff who have put in so much hard work, our loyal customers and suppliers who’ve stuck with us, our insurers and the external support we’ve received across the community.”

Thomas Foods International is Australia’s largest meat processing company and exports to more than 85 countries.

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