NZ’s Silver Fern Farms closes UK meat plant

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 3rd August 2010

New Zealand meat processor Silver Fern Farms has announced plans to close its Brooks operation in the UK city of Norwich.

The company notified its Brooks employees of the closure on Friday. Some 64 employees will be affected by the closure, which will come into effect immediately.

Silver Fern Farms took ownership of the frozen meat processing facility in 1998, where it processed and packed a variety of frozen products, which for logistical and presentation reasons were unable to be retail-packed in New Zealand.

Sliver Fern Farms CEO Keith Cooper said: “This position had now reversed with almost all lamb carcasses being further processed in New Zealand at integrated slaughter and processing sites.”

The company added that demand for chilled products has also increased and in recent years major UK retailers have consolidated the processing and packing of chilled meat with a small number of large multi-species operators.

“We continue to observe a major shift in consumption from frozen to chilled product as a result of changing lifestyles and increasing consumer demand for fresh, healthy and convenient added-value products,” said Cooper. “The UK in particular is leading this trend – in 2009 chilled lamb exports from New Zealand grew by 20% and Silver Fern Farms’ chilled growth was significantly higher than this.”

The move comes just a month after Silver Fern announced plans to close its Canterbury lamb-cutting plant and restructure operations at its Belfast facility.

The company affirmed that it will retain its marketing and logistics operation in the UK, “which will provide customer service support to its chilled and wholesale customer-base throughout the UK and elsewhere”.

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