Changes at Timaru's Smithfield plant will boost processing efficiency by 20 per cent, says Alliance Group.

The $1.2 million investment will include the installation of additional vacuum packaging, co-products processing technology and extending the secondary processing area at the South Canterbury plant

In June, the co-operative announced improvements to its Dannevirke plant, which will increase capacity by 20 per cent and mean jobs for 35 additional staff. The project in the southern Hawke's Bay is due to get underway next month.

David Surveyor, Chief Executive of Alliance Group, said the investment at Smithfield is another step forward in the company's transformation strategy and showed the benefit of a strong balance sheet.

"We are in a position to invest in our plants to support our farmers, our people and the communities we operate in. This reflects our commitment to strengthening our processing capabilities and maximising our operational performance across our plant network.

Chief Executive of Alliance Group, David Surveyor. Photo / Supplied
Chief Executive of Alliance Group, David Surveyor. Photo / Supplied

"The major gains at Smithfield will come from the reconfiguration of secondary processing facility at the plant. This will include additional vacuum capacity and conveyors, which will significantly improve the product flow. These changes will result in greater efficiencies at the plant and benefit farmers.

"As a co-operative, we are focused on maximising the value created for New Zealand farmers. We remain focused on lifting the performance and productivity of all our plants.

"This investment is great news for Timaru and the South Canterbury region with the plant employing 500 people at peak season."

Alliance recently appointed Karen Morris as Smithfield plant manager, the co-operative's second female plant manager and a long-time employee of the company.

She joined Alliance in 1998 and brings significant experience in food safety, quality and market access including roles as Technical Manager, Group Food Safety & Market Access Manager and Group Manager Food Safety and Quality Assurance.

Morris holds a Bachelor of Applied Management, Technical Industry qualifications and has recently completed the Executive Ready Programme through Monash University and Women & Leadership Australia.