The new plant, to be funded by an investment of several hundred million dollars, will replace the plant destroyed by a fire in January 2018.
Chief executive Officer Darren Thomas said the new facility will be built 10km outside of the town centre.
“We plan to build the best, most advanced multi-species processing facility in Australia, if not the world. And we will build it at Murray Bridge in South Australia,” he said. “We want our facility to be world class in adapting the latest advancements in technology, efficiency, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and workplace safety.
“This is the single largest investment by our company in its 30-year history and on a scale not seen in our industry for many years. It’s also our long-term commitment to our community, staff, customers and livestock suppliers throughout South Australia and Australia.
“The fire was a major disruption to the business and the lives of many of our people, not just in Murray Bridge but right across our operations. But we’re a positive and resilient family company.
“Rather than lament what was lost, we’ve chosen to focus on emerging bigger, better and stronger. We’ve chosen to focus on the exciting future for our company and the community of Murray Bridge.”
Once fully operational, the new plant is expected to create around 2000 jobs, an estimated 400 of which will be required in the initial stages of production. Although no start date for construction has been agreed, it is expected that production at the new facility will commence in November 2020.
Chief operating officer David McKay added: “We’ve secured the land for our site and have worked closely with a team of internationally renowned process engineers to come up with a world-class environmentally sustainable design. “From the fire has come a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to build a brand new flagship facility that will service our global operations for many decades to come. This will be a technically advanced facility to deliver the highest standards in beef and lamb processing.”
The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) welcomed the announcement. CEO Patrick Hutchinson said: “Last year’s fire was, of course, devastating for the business and for the local community. Thomas Foods International has chosen not just to rebuild, but to step it up a notch, taking on a greenfield site and developing a world-standard facility.
“This is a reflection not only of the company’s commitment to its community but of the industry’s commitment to securing and growing Australia’s position as a world leader. Today is a good day.”