Primo to expand

Scone is continuing its reputation as a leader in the beef production industry with its largest employer and beef processing enterprise Hunter Valley Quality Meats unveiling world’s best standard operational expansions. 

Upper Hunter Shire mayor Michael Johnsen, Hunter Valley Quality Meats chief executive officer Peter Allen, Primo Smallgoods chief executive officer Paul Lederer and Upper Hunter Shire Council general manager Waid Crockett are looking forward to the expansion of the beef production enterprise.

Upper Hunter Shire mayor Michael Johnsen, Hunter Valley Quality Meats chief executive officer Peter Allen, Primo Smallgoods chief executive officer Paul Lederer and Upper Hunter Shire Council general manager Waid Crockett are looking forward to the expansion of the beef production enterprise.

The beef production plant, located in Muffett Street, is a division of Primo Smallgoods and currently employs about 600 people operating six days a week to process 1000 head a day on a double shift. 

But this is all about to get bigger and better, as the business will start a large expansion project in August which will see more people employed, more cattle welcomed and more meat processed. 

The planned project includes a number of components such as construction of a plate freezer with a capacity of about 70,000 cartons to allow a rapid freezing process, reconfiguration of the works and an extension of the load out facility.

The $40 million project is expected to start in August and take about 14 months to complete with all plans submitted to the NSW Department of Planning for approval.

Primo Smallgoods chief executive officer and Primo Group of Companies chairman Paul Lederer said the aim of the expansion is to increase capacity and increase efficiency while also making it easier and more automated for their current employees and the future employees that will be needed once complete. 

The expansion has been in the pipeline for about 18 months, with a Producers Day held last July forming as a catalyst to indicate the potential for the project to push forward.

Once completed, the company which is already the largest employer in Scone, expects to employ an extra 100 people which Hunter Valley Quality Meats chief executive officer Peter Allen said he hopes would include a number of local people. 

He said they would love to employ as many local suitable workers as they can, and would be working with a pre-vocational training organisation to provide industry specific training to allow people to have the suitable skills and qualifications to apply. 

Mr Allen said Hunter Valley Quality Meats accepts all cattle from young          yearlings right through to fattened bullocks and cows, with 75 per cent of the cattle being sourced from producers within 500 kilometres of Scone.

At present, 60 per cent of the beef is exported to about 50 countries, which is expected to grow. 

“A big focus is to grow the business, but it will also mean greater employment, greater strength in the economy and also ensure the expansion has a very strong environmental focus,” Mr Allen said. 

Mr Lederer said being a world’s best benchmark, they are very concerned with environmental factors.

“This is a massive development for Scone and it’s not the end of it, there will be other projects to follow,” he said. 

“This could be the hub of the meat industry in the region.”

Upper Hunter Shire Council mayor Michael Johnsen said the council loves the concept and it is clearly an exciting opportunity for Scone and the Upper Hunter. 

“The agriculture based economy of the Upper Hunter Shire will only be strengthened and the opportunity for training and employment is a benefit for local families. 

“The size of the investment is a strong vote of confidence for Scone and the Upper Hunter community and it’s good to be a rural community whose biggest employer is not the council,” he said. 

Mr Allen said community consultation will be occurring in the near future to explain the project to the community, address areas of concern and welcome community input. 

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