Cold store facility kickstarts John Dee expansion plans

John Dee Abattoir's expansion plans kickstarted with cold storage facility build


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John Dee director John Hart and chief executive officer Warren Stiff at the site of the abattoir's new regional cold storage facility.

John Dee director John Hart and chief executive officer Warren Stiff at the site of the abattoir's new regional cold storage facility.

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With a new cold storage facility at the John Dee abattoir at Warwick set to be up and running by June 2020, the company has ambitious plans to increase their production capacity by 40 per cent.

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Work has begun on a new cold storage facility at the John Dee abattoir at Warwick, which the company tips could help enhance their production capability by 40 per cent by 2022.

John Dee chief executive officer Warren Stiff said the facility will be able to store 48,000 cartons of beef, product that is currently stored in the main processing plant, with the project targeting a bottleneck in the plant.

"It removes the bottleneck and allows us to begin the planning for the changes that are required to add further production," he said.

"It's our aim to be able to enhance our throughput by 40pc within two years from the completion of the build.

"This will future-proof our storage and then we will go back to our production."

It's expected the new facility will be completed in late 2019 and fully operational by June 2020.

Ultimately it's forecast that John Dee's expansion plans will create 280 new jobs in the region.

The plant currently processes 2500 export carcases a week.

The facility will be able to store both chilled and frozen beef, with plan for an initial 50/50 split.

John Dee is currently one of 10 plants in Australia with access to export chilled beef to China.

"As a country's infrastructure develops and goes from frozen to chilled, this facility will allow us to lean either way," Mr Stiff said.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud was there for the project's sod-turning on Thursday.

It comes after the federal government pledged $4.8 million to the facility in 2017.

Mr Littleproud said the new cold store facility helped to make Warwick a hub for processing high-quality beef.

"It's important we make a strategic investment to stimulate this growth, protect jobs, create new jobs and make sure our product gets to plates around the world," he said.

Mr Littleproud said creating new jobs would have flow-on effects for the region by helping to bring new families to town.

"This is a great day for the Southern Downs and a great day for agriculture," he said.

John Dee engaged Brisbane-based international project delivery company, Wiley to complete the design and delivery for the regional cold store facility, which will be five storeys high.

Wiley chief operating officer Robert Barron said about 80 jobs have been created during the 13-month construction period.

"There's around $1.5 million of work already done and in the ground," he said.

"The trickiest design challenge with a structure so big is the wind loading in this region... we've spent quite a number of late nights working through that.

"We've got all our sums locked in now and it's ready to go.

"In about six to eight weeks you'll start seeing some structures going up and it'll start taking some real shape from the external view."

Mr Barron said 100 metres of conveyor belts will connect the new facility with the current plant, with computer controls an important part of the design.

"This is cutting edge technology and it's leading the charge with any other abattoir in Australia," he said.

John Dee CEO Warren Stiff, Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie, agriculture minister David Littleproud and Wiley chief operating officer Robert Barron at a sod-turning for the John Dee regional cold store facility.

John Dee CEO Warren Stiff, Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie, agriculture minister David Littleproud and Wiley chief operating officer Robert Barron at a sod-turning for the John Dee regional cold store facility.

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