Local abbatoir jobs safe
SHROUDED in recent uncertainty after abattoir closures in Killarney and Pittsworth, the beef industry – in Gympie at least – is still going strong.
Gympie abattoirs owner-operators Nolan Meats director, Tony Nolan, said yesterday the business was operating as normal and the 330 jobs at the East Deep Creek plant were secure for now.
He said the business was currently operating at the highest “throughput” ever and processing about 400 head of cattle daily.
While a lot of businesses about the same size as Nolan Meats were closing, Mr Nolan said he was staying focused on how to best service customers on a daily basis to stay ahead of the game.
Nolan Meats is the Gympie region’s biggest exporter of beef around the nation and 20 overseas countries and runs a feedlot, abattoir and distribution network.
Mr Nolan said the beef production industry was operating in a very competitive environment with extreme cost pressures.
Those pressures came mainly from the rising value of the Australian dollar, which reduced competitiveness in overseas markets.
“The economics of producing beef and exporting to other countries is under fire,” he said.
Mr Nolan said his business was competing with some of the abattoirs that had closed.
Recently, 230 Leitch Pastoral Group workers were stood down from abattoirs in Pittsworth and Killarney until debts could be collected from suppliers and management issues could be fixed.
Management was hopeful the closure was temporary and the businesses would re-open in the future.
Other plants have wound back operations due to supply and demand issues.
Last week, the Meat and Livestock Association (MLA) announced cattle producers and beef exporters could expect 2010 to be a year of “subdued prices” and “lacklustre export demand”.
But the MLA 2010 Cattle Industry Projections reported the lowest prices should have passed.
“Prices for heavy export cattle categories are likely to be the most constrained due to low import demand, the high (Australian dollar) A$ and increased competition faced from US beef in Korea and Japan,” the report said. Beef production is expected to drop by four per cent in 2010.