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SA's BADGE to build Thomas Foods' Murray Bridge meat plant

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Thomas Foods International has appointed Adelaide-based construction company BADGE to build its state-of-the-art meat processing facility near Murray Bridge.

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Thomas Foods International has appointed Adelaide-based construction company BADGE to build its state-of-the-art meat processing facility near Murray Bridge.

The plant will be built at a greenfield site about 10km north of the town and replaces the original facility destroyed by fire in January 2018.

Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year with the commissioning of stage one expected within 24 months.

Stage one is expected to create about 500 jobs and will include beef processing facilities with an initial capacity of up to 600 head per day, a beef boning room with automated packaging technology, stockyards, employee amenities and administration facilities, and, fully automated carton chilling, freezing and storage systems.

The exact timing of further stages of the development is yet to be determined but will include the addition of sheep and lamb processing facilities and further expansion of the beef facilities in order to take the plant’s total processing capacity to 1200 head of beef and 15,000 head of sheep and lamb per day.

Thomas Foods International CEO Darren Thomas said BADGE was chosen after a comprehensive competitive tender process.

“The fire, as devastating and disruptive as it was, has given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something truly special. We have been determined since day one not just to replace to the facility at Murray Bridge but to build something bigger and better,” he said.

An artist’s render of Stage One of the Murray Bridge plant.

“We see this facility as setting the industry benchmark for technology, efficiency, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and workplace safety.

“We look forward to now working alongside BADGE, a fellow South Australian family-owned company, in creating what will become a global showcase of advanced food manufacturing.”

In total, the project is expected to create more than 2000 jobs.

Based in Adelaide, TFI also owns meat processing plants in Tamworth and Lobethal and is Australia’s largest 100 per cent family-owned meat processing company. In May it also announced it had acquired a 50 per cent stake in the Victoria-based Frew group, which owns a modern meat processing plant in the western Victorian town of Stawell.

TFI has an annual turnover of more than $2 billion, employs 3000 people globally and exports about 80 per cent of mainly beef and lamb production into 80 export markets.

It also owns subsidiary companies located in Asia, Europe and the United States, where it operates a state-of-the-art foodservice and storage facility in New Jersey.

BADGE is South Australia’s largest private commercial contractor and one of Australia’s largest privately-owned builders, operating in four states but delivering projects across the country.

BADGE managing director Jim Whiting said TFI should be commended for embarking on the big project that would create significant economic benefits for the region and the state.

“Our company has a 38-year history working in the food and beverage industry and we have an existing relationship with the Thomas family, having recently completed TFI’s Adelaide head office building,” he said.

“We will be working with many other great South Australian businesses including Ahrens who will be supplying all the specialised structural steel for the project, and we see many other opportunities for local subcontractors as construction gets underway.”

Meanwhile, TFI says works are well underway on a 2.2km public link road between Mannum Road and the development site under a federal and state government-funded infrastructure program.

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