Alliance is opening a new $15.9 million venison processing plant at Lorneville, Southland.

The 100% farmer-owned co-operative began processing its first deer at the plant on September 17.

Once operating at peak capacity, the plant near Invercargill will employ 60 people.

The plant features improved handling facilities and an enhanced configuration. The slaughterboard, boning room and offal area are larger than those at Alliance's venison processing facilities at Smithfield and the company's former Makarewa plant.

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Alliance Group Chief Executive David Surveyor welcomed the start of processing at the plant.

"This investment at Lorneville reinforces the co-operative's position as a leading and innovative processor, and shows how serious we are about strengthening our presence in the deer industry.

"We are delivering on our strategy of investing in maximising our operational performance."

Opening the plant also reflected the commitment of Alliance to continuing to invest in New Zealand's rural communities. The co-operative was proud of its Southland roots and employs more than 2000 people in the region alone. Lorneville was an important part of Alliance's processing network and an important contributor to the co-operative's success, he said.

Alliance was working hard to capture greater value for Pure South venison in the co-operative's global markets.

In addition to marketing venison in Germany and Europe for the game season, Alliance was selling to the United States and United Kingdom markets with value added propositions, Mr Surveyor said.

"Our goal is to increase out-of-season chilled consumption, while at the same time [continuing] to grow sales of our seasonal chilled venison."