A three-year vision came to fruition this week when Gundagai Meat Processors (GMP) announced a multi-million dollar expansion, commencing early in 2017.
CEO, Will Barton, thanked the many players including the NSW government, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Coles and Mirrool Creek Lamb.
“Businesses like ours need initiatives like Jobs for NSW to enable us to expand our operations, increase our capacity and, most importantly, generate new employment in regional areas,” Mr Barton explained.
“The flow-ons from 76 new full-time positions will generate an estimated $150m per year in the local economies as many areas will benefit.”
Mr Barton explained that Jobs for NSW is providing a $4m loan guarantee for the $30m borrowed from the CBA.
“The meat processing sector can be volatile with many variables affecting trade so lenders tend to be cautious. However, with Jobs for NSW guaranteeing the loan this means all parties are confident and we can proceed with the expansion.”
GMP is a contracting processor for clients as it does not buy livestock and it doesn’t sell meat.
“Coles buys the lambs they want, and we take them from delivery to final packaging exactly as they want it. Our relationship extends beyond 35 years and we have just signed together for another five years,” Mr Barton said.
“The expansion includes greater use of robotics, especially from the kill-floor to the boning room. The chilling process will be highly automated and this specific equipment will improve the ability to grade post-slaughter.
“Automation lowers labour costs and also reduces potential contamination by bacteria from human contact which is a food safety priority.”
Mark Randell is responsible for Coles lamb procurement and based in Albury. Nationally, Coles acquires 40,000 head and 11,000 head of cattle each week for the supermarket network, with GMP an essential provider of finished products.
“I look for lambs with good covering from either, or both, grass and grain and we only select the best finished stock,” he said. “GMP is vital to our quality supply chain from paddock to plate.”
The Barton family has been associated with the Gundagai meat industry for almost 100 years. Initially processing 100 lambs a week, GMP now process 625,000 lambs each year with its location in prime lamb producing country a huge advantage for local growers.
“Innovation is key to our success. We respond quickly to changing market demands and have expanded and adapted our operations over time to meet the needs of key clients. This included constructing a boning room in the late 1990s to accommodate the industry’s shift to shelf ready product and early adoption of robotics on our lamb floor as part of Meat & Livestock Australia Research and Development projects”, Mr Barton said.