Meat & Livestock News

Expansion of Beef Processing Facilities in Southern Australia: A Double-Edged Sword


Four new or significantly expanded beef processing facilities are set to commence operations in southern Australia. While these developments promise to inject competition into the livestock market, they also pose challenges for an already strained labour market in the processing industry.

The New Facilities

The four facilities gearing up for operations are:

  • Thomas Foods International in Murray Bridge, South Australia
  • Greenham Tongala in Victoria
  • Kilcoy Global Foods in Lance Creek, Victoria
  • Australian Meat Group in Cootamundra, southern New South Wales

These facilities have seen investments running into hundreds of millions of dollars. Notably, the Murray Bridge facility is a replacement for an older plant that was lost to a fire in 2018 and is estimated to have cost upwards of $700 million.

Labour Requirements and Challenges

Collectively, these new and expanded sites will necessitate over 1,000 additional employees, ranging from skilled to unskilled labour.

This requirement comes at a time when the labour market is already tight, making it a challenging task to operate these facilities at their intended initial capacities.

Market Impact

Some industry stakeholders argue that these new facilities are essentially replacing older processing capacities rather than adding new volume.

Regardless, the timing is crucial as cattle turnoff across eastern Australia has surged due to an encroaching drought, making the additional competition for livestock a welcome development.

Facility-Specific DetailsThomas Foods International – Murray Bridge

This facility replaces an older plant lost to a fire and is expected to employ up to 350 staff initially. Once fully operational, it will have a daily processing capacity of 1,200 head of beef and 15,000 head of smallstock.

Greenham – Tongala

The facility aims to create 230 new jobs and plans to reach a daily capacity of 1,050 cattle by May next year.

Kilcoy Global Foods – Lance Creek

After acquiring and refurbishing the previously mothballed Lance Creek plant, Kilcoy plans to start with a modest operation requiring 60 employees, eventually ramping up to full-scale production with 300 staff.

Australian Meat Group – Cootamundra

The facility aims for an initial daily kill of 200, with plans to scale up to 1,000 a day. It has seen a good labour response locally and also has an offshore recruitment programme.