$6m salmon plant a 'vote of confidence'

By Sally Rae

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A $6 million salmon-processing factory in Timaru has been commissioned by Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, and will open next April.

Company chief executive Geoff Matthews made the announcement at a South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce function on Thursday, reversing the trend of processing and manufacturing jobs being lost overseas.

The factory would be commissioned in stages, initially bringing 35 new jobs to the city and a further 40 to follow as the company expanded its production and an added-value smoke house was commissioned in three to four years.

The site, in Sheffield St, was chosen after an extensive 12-month search and planning process.

"Geographically, we looked at a triangle between Twizel, as far south as Oamaru, and as far north as Rangiora.

"In the end, the economics of basing a plant in Timaru, coupled with a skilled stable workforce, meant that it was the best option," Mr Matthews said in a statement.

Commissioning of the plant was also bringing jobs back onshore.

"Currently, 80 per cent of our export production has secondary processing in Indonesia.

"However, bringing jobs back onshore is not without its challenges. The challenge for us as a company is to upskill our workforce to meet, and ideally exceed, the exacting standards that we currently obtain from our world-class processor, BMI, in Indonesia," he said.

Commissioning the plant was a "vote of confidence" in a New Zealand workforce. It was designed to process, at full capacity, 3500 metric tonnes of harvested fish a year.

The company, which is more than halfway through a $20 million expansion, recently became the first aquaculture facility in Australasia to receive the Global Aquaculture Alliance's best aquaculture practice certification for sustainable farming.

Mt Cook Alpine Salmon chairman Jim Bolger, described as not only a tremendous achievement for the company, but also a "significant moment" for New Zealand aquaculture in general.

The Global Aquaculture Alliance is an international organisation dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture and a safe supply of seafood to meet growing world food needs.

Obtaining certification would open up "significant" new markets for the company, Mr Bolger, who is also the chairman of the international board of the World Agricultural Forum, said.

To achieve certification, independent auditors from the Ireland-based Global Trust travelled to the Mackenzie Basin to audit the procedures, practices and operating manuals of the company's farming operations.

- Otago Daily Times

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