Silver Fern Farms to close pelt plant

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Silver Fern Farms to close pelt plant

Related tags Lamb Processing and packaging Innovation

New Zealand sheep meat producer Silver Fern Farms has announced plans to close its pelt processing operation at its Fairton pelt house site following a review.

As part of the consultation process conducted by Silver Fern Farms, all 44 people processing pelts at the Fairton site and the four people preparing pelts at Pareora, have been presented with potential redundancy, as well as options to work at other Silver Fern Farms sites in the region.

Silver Fern Farms closed its Fairton sheepmeat processing plant in May 2017​ following a decline in regional sheep numbers. That closure led to the loss of 370 jobs at the plant.

The business explained that continued low sheep meat numbers in the South Island have also led to a situation where there is excess pelt processing capacity in the South Island. It said that pelt processors are also seeing low returns from the global market, and that these factors, coupled with the high overhead costs due to the large site, is making pelt processing unsustainable at Fairton.

The site closure means the company can consolidate its South Island pelts at their Finegand pelt preparation facility, bringing efficiency gains through this early part of the pelting process.

Silver Fern Farms said it has “investigated alternative processing options with others in the industry through a thorough process”​ and should this proposal proceed following consultation, it intends to consolidate its volumes through other pelt processors for mutual benefit.

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