VIDEO: Thomas Foods’ Murray Bridge plant takes shape

Building works at Thomas Foods International’s new meat processing plant near Murray Bridge have begun, with steel framing 10-storeys high erected on the site.

Sep 24, 2021, updated Sep 24, 2021
Thomas Foods International Group Engineering Manager Nekta at the new Murray Bridge site. Picture: Tom Roschi

Thomas Foods International Group Engineering Manager Nekta at the new Murray Bridge site. Picture: Tom Roschi

The plant is being built at a greenfield site about 10km north of the town by SA construction company BADGE and replaces the original facility destroyed by fire in January 2018.

The huge automated packaging building will use a large chunk of the more than 1700 tonnes of steel earmarked for the entire development.

As the highest structure on the site, the packaging building will have the capacity to store 40,000 cartons of frozen and chilled meat products within the storage and retrieval system, and will feature the latest in automation and robotics technology.

Stage One of the development will feature:

  • Beef processing and animal handling facilities
  • Beef boning room with automated packaging technology
  • Stockyards
  • Administration facilities
  • Wastewater treatment plant
  • Fully automated carton chilling, freezing and storage systems

Further stages of the development will include the addition of sheep and lamb processing facilities and further expansion of the beef facilities.

Thomas Foods International Group Engineering Manager Nekta Nicolaou said the level of visible construction activity on site would increase substantially over coming months.

“Up until now, much of the activity on site has been focussed on initial earthworks and the pouring of concrete footings and foundation,” he said.

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“Two large lagoons have also been excavated for our wastewater treatment plant.

“Approximately 13,500 cubic metres of concrete is being laid and from this solid base the plant is beginning to emerge from the ground up. It’s now when you can start to picture the full magnitude of this build and it’s exciting to see.”

Construction and commissioning of Stage One is expected to be a 24-month process with the build expected to be finished in late 2022.

Thomas Foods International has already begun recruitment of the first management positions for the Murray Bridge operations.

The company is currently seeking a Quality Assurance Manager and a Group Environmental & Sustainability Manager for the new facility.

Based in Adelaide, TFI also owns meat processing plants in Tamworth and Lobethal and is Australia’s largest 100 per cent family-owned meat processing company.

Last year it also announced it had acquired a 50 per cent stake in the Victoria-based Frew group, which owns a modern meat processing plant in the western Victorian town of Stawell.

TFI has an annual turnover of more than $2 billion, employs 3000 people globally and exports about 80 per cent of mainly beef and lamb production into 80 export markets.

It also owns subsidiary companies located in Asia, Europe and the United States, where it operates a state-of-the-art foodservice and storage facility in New Jersey.

BADGE is South Australia’s largest private commercial contractor and one of Australia’s largest privately-owned builders, operating in four states but delivering projects across the country.

South Australian family-owned business Ahrens is also supplying steel for the project.

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