30 Jul 2010

Silver Fern closes UK meat plant

4:39 pm on 30 July 2010

Silver Fern Farms has closed a long-established meat processing plant in England, with the loss of more than 60 jobs.

It has been using the Brooks plant in Norwich for processing and packaging frozen lamb products since 1988, when it bought a half-share in the business.

It became the full owner 10 years later but sold the land and buildings about two years ago and has been leasing the facilities since then.

Chief executive Keith Cooper says that because of changes in the meat export trade, Silver Fern can no longer justify keeping the plant going.

Consumer tastes have changed, with people favouring chilled meat, and he says it's more cost-effective to process the products in New Zealand.

Mr Cooper says many of Silver Fern's partners in the UK lamb trade also have their own facilities for processing and packaging chilled lamb.

With the decline in stock numbers, the co-op has also closed a number of processing plants in New Zealand, most recently a lamb- cutting facility and rendering and casings plant in Christchurch.