Western Meat Packers opens $7m facility

25 Feb, 2011 02:00 AM
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WESTERN Meat Packers (WMP) officially launched its $7 million Osborne Park export-grade processing plant last week, with Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman carrying out the official proceedings.

The launch included a tour of WMP's new $4m retail-ready room, designed in partnership with Coles to package its hormone-free mince lines, which will be packaged in modified atmosphere packaging.

A burst of air is pumped into the tray prior to it being sealed, which increases the shelf life of the mince.

The mince will also be put through an x-ray machine, unique to WA, which determines fat content within 0.01 per cent as well as picking up any traces of bone, metal or any other foreign matter.

WMP will process 200 tonnes of retail-ready mince for Coles each week, or 400,000 trays, before expanding to include other retail-ready products such as strip loins, diced beef, hamburger patties and other new lines.

WMP is currently processing 1600 cattle and 600 sheep a week, which are slaughtered at its Cowaramup abattoir.

Mr Redman praised WMP owners Rod and Shana Russell and their ability to overcome enormous challenges after their O'Connor factory burnt down in November 2009 to transform the Osborne Park cold storage facilities into a state-of-the-art processing centre.

Mr Redman said the investment signalled a profitable and sustainable beef industry.

"This is a good day for the State's beef industry, it's a win for business, jobs, customers, farmers and the broader WA economy," Mr Redman said.

"I commend WMP's commitment to the industry.

"It would have been so easy to walk away after the fire but instead they were operating, albeit at limited capacity, just three months later and kept 250 jobs in place.

"This investment would boost WA's $500m a year beef sector, create an additional 30 jobs and give access to export markets after the business was awarded a hard-to-obtain US listing.

"Farmers also benefit, with long-term supply contracts offering direction and security in a profitable industry."

Mr Redman said he was also pleased to see Buy West, Eat Best stickers on WMP's produce.

The expanded WMP Osborne Park facility incorporates a freezer complex, boning room and cold stores.

WMP owner and general manager Rod Russell said they had purchased a 6700m2 block at Spearwood, as they anticipated they would outgrow the Osborne Park facility within 12 months.

Mr Russell said they hoped to shift to the Spearwood premises, which was originally owned by the WA Lamb Marketing Board, before the end of the year.

They were also adding to the chiller space at their Cowaramup abattoir to increase the killing capacity.

At the moment though, Mr Russell said they were excited about getting the new retail-ready room running at full capacity.

"This is a win-win for everybody in the industry and it's great to have a good news story to tell," Mr Russell said.

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