Silver Fern Farms is planning to consolidate its Waikato bobby calf processing facilities at its upgraded Waitoa plant and is consulting with staff at its nearby Paeroa processing plant on options for transferring.

Silver Fern Farms is investing in excess of $1m to upgrade its Waitoa bobby calf processing site to allow it to process the combined volume at one site. The two Waikato sites are within 30 kms of each other. No jobs will be lost under the proposal, as Paeroa staff will be transferred to Waitoa on their existing employment terms.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Dean Hamilton says the investment in the Waitoa site was due to the site’s superior facilities, which include a larger coolstore that also services the company’s Te Aroha beef plant. “Our Waitoa plant has greater scope for further future redevelopment should additional processing capacity be required in the region.”

“Our Paeroa site is now at the point where it requires significant investment to replace its entire refrigeration system and its boiler. That investment doesn’t make sense when only 25 minutes away we have our Waitoa site which can lift its processing capacity to cover the volume processed by both sites.

“It also has the advantage that we can process stock in a more efficient manner by not duplicating resources at two sites. We can also better focus our investment in new plant technology at the one site. As the Waikato’s largest calf processor, we’re excited by the opportunity to create an efficient, high quality processing facility at Waitoa, which can better service our loyal dairy suppliers in the region.”

The majority of the 300 seasonal staff at Paeroa also work at Silver Fern Farms’ beef site at Te Aroha for the main processing season and this proposal does not affect their employment at Te Aroha.

“While no jobs are being lost through this proposal, we appreciate this is an unsettling process for our people at Paeroa, and we are working with them and their union.”

A decision on the proposal will be made in the next 2 weeks.