Thomas Foods International rebuild to start within weeks

Five hundred jobs will be created when the first stage of the new Murray Bridge meat works is completed.

Construction of Thomas Foods International’s new Murray Bridge meat works will start before the end of the year, the company has announced.

The world-class facility will initially provide 500 jobs in beef processing from late 2022.

The first stage of construction will include stock yards, processing, boning, packaging and storage facilities capable of handling up to 600 head of cattle per day.

The number of people employed at the new site, off Mannum Road at Pallamana, will swell to more than 2000 in years to come as further stages are completed.

In time, it will be able to process 1200 head of beef and 15,000 head of smaller livestock per day, replacing capacity that was lost when Murray Bridge’s meat works burned down on January 3, 2018.

Chief executive officer Darren Thomas said TFI wanted the new facility to be “a global showcase of advanced manufacturing”.

“The fire, as devastating and disruptive as it was, has given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something truly special,” he said.

“We have been determined since day one not just to replace to the facility at Murray Bridge, but to build something bigger and better.

“We see this facility as setting the industry benchmark for technology, efficiency, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and workplace safety.

“We want it to be the most advanced multi-species meat processing facility of its kind in Australia, if not the world.”

Automated systems will be a feature of the facility’s packaging, carton-chilling, freezing and storage areas.

Local contractors may get a share of construction work

South Australian construction company Badge has won the right to built the new plant.

The company had an existing relationship with TFI, having built its Adelaide headquarters, but would be better known locally for constructing the Murray Bridge Marketplace shopping centre.

Managing director Tim Whiting predicted that the meat works project would have “significant” economic benefits to the Murraylands and the state.

“We will be working with many other great South Australian businesses – including Ahrens, who will be supplying all the specialised structural steel for the project – and we see many other opportunities for local subcontractors as construction gets underway,” he said.

Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis welcomed the long-anticipated announcement.

“The Thomas family made a commitment to rebuild (in Murray Bridge) and I never doubted it,” he said.

“It’s been a ragged path from there to now, but this is fantastic news for the state of South Australia and this particular region.

“It means we go into 2021 with a massive project which will employ a lot of contractors and subcontractors.”

Local firm Spry Civil Construction is already involved in construction of a road which will connect TFI’s new plant with Mannum Road, a $14 million project funded by government.

Another 4500 indirect jobs are expected to be created in the Murraylands, catering to the needs of the extra workers and their families, when the plant is finished.

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