WESTPORK has positioned itself as the biggest player in the WA pork market for years to come after taking over GD Pork operations in West Pinjarra and Kojonup.
The company will hold a 45 per cent share of the market producing about 7000 pigs per week or 364,000 per year.
The Danish-owned GD Pork was WA’s third biggest producer – supplying 5pc of the market until it was placed into voluntary administration in November last year.
GD Pork started its operation in 2007 and invested millions of dollars into its facilities but was hit by the dramatic fall in pork prices nationally in the past few years and the high grain prices and oversupply of pork in the local market.
GD Pork’s managing director, as well as an internal consultant/technical expert were also charged with importing illegal pig semen last year after an investigation by the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), dating back as far as January 2017.
They did not enter a plea in the Mandurah Magistrates Court and an outcome is still pending.
Westpork has taken over the GD Pork facilities as a going concern – meaning staff will retain their jobs (although Westpork will ensure a new management team will be put in place).
It has plans to significantly upgrade the waste treatment systems at both piggeries, satisfying DAWR notices which were issued to GD Pork prior to its going into administration.
Westpork chief executive officer Neil Ferguson said the acquisition from the administrator, Ferrier Hodgson, would add to the company’s existing operations from Moora to Mt Barker, including six of its own farms and four contract farms.
Westpork employs more than 120 staff across its businesses.
It is focussed on the wholesale of a range of pig products and supplies to Woolworths and D’Orsogna, among others.
Westpork is the biggest producer in WA with about 14,000 sows – plus the additional capacity at West Pinjarra housing 2500 breeding sows.
The Kojonup site houses 22,500 growers.
With the addition of the two sites Westpork will be able to boost production by about 65,000 pigs per year.
Mr Ferguson said Westpork was growing its business for its key customers and this strategic acquisition enhanced Westpork’s ability to fulfil its customers’ requirements.
Although the pork industry woes have taken its toll on local producers, industry leaders at Australia Pork Limited (APL) and WA Pork Producers Association believe the signs are there for a turn around.
“We are confident the demand for pork will keep growing after the recent turnaround in market conditions,” Mr Ferguson said.
APL chairman David Lock said it was good to see the GD Pork facilities being utilised and owned by a WA company.
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He wasn’t concerned about the concentration of ownership as the WA industry was fairly concentrated already.
He said Westpork and Linley Valley Pork were the dominant players, but a few other significant, smaller WA operators contributed to the State’s production.
According to APL figures, the WA pork industry producers more than 700,000 head of pigs per year – equating to 53,000 tonnes of pork per annum.
Ninety per cent of production came from six farms.
Mr Lock said 80pc of WA production went to the domestic market, while only 20pc was exported.
He said if there was a concern about concentration it would be in the processing sector with WA having only one major pig abattoir which holds an export license, Linley Valley Pork, although it processes for both markets.