AN extra 200 jobs have been created at national meat processor Thomas Foods International as a result of a state government funding boost.
A $2.5-million grant towards a state-of-the-art beef boning facility at TFI's Murray Bridge plant will significantly lift the daily output of Australia's largest mixed-species abattoir.
TFI chief operating officer David McKay said the investment placed the company at the forefront of trade, enabling the incorporation of cutting-edge technology, increased shelf life and processing efficiency.
"For many years Australian meat processors have consistently developed an enviable brand globally," he said.
"Such efforts, coupled with our disease-free status, ensure we are well placed to capitalise on current export demand for our products."
Mr McKay said the boning facility would include the latest technology for refrigeration, conveying, sortation, cryovac packing and hygiene.
"An industry-first trims sortation system will be installed to analyse, mix and batch trimmings into specific lean meat grades, allowing for value-adding," he said.
Demand for Australian grass-fed beef in key international markets of China and the United States was on the rise.
"SA and its high quality grass-fed cattle is in a prime position to capitalise on these emerging markets, and through this project we are confident we can make this happen to the benefit of our local producers in the process," Mr McKay said.
Regional Development Minister Geoff Brock said the TFI abattoir was receiving the funding through the enhanced $15m-a-year regional development fund.
"The upgrade through the Major Projects Program will further consolidate the company's beef processing operations in SA and create significant economic benefits for the state and the local community," he said.
"The company's $25.4m upgrade will increase its beef processing capacity by more than 25 per cent, create 200 new jobs, and increase the amount of beef available to the export and domestic markets."
Mr Brock said TFI was SA's largest regional private employer and this upgrade would boost regional employment.
"Sixty contractors from various suppliers and companies will be required during the implementation phase," he said.
"Benefits of this project will flow on to the transportation and shipping industries.
TFI's new boning room follows on from upgrades at its Murray Bridge headquarters last year, when it opened a small state-of-the-art stock holding facility.
The multi-million dollar lairage enables TFI to receive up to 10,000 sheep and lambs at a time.
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