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Four WA abattoirs for sale while Government pushes greater onshore processing

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Aidan SmithCountryman
The Waroona abattoir is for sale by CBRE.
Camera IconThe Waroona abattoir is for sale by CBRE. Credit: Supplied/Prime Meat Co

The harsh reality of WA’s meat processing industry has been exposed by four WA abattoirs currently for sale.

High energy and labour costs, supply issues, as well as a lack of investor funding, have been the main reasons behind the situation, according to Elders Real Estate agent Greg Smith.

The issue highlights the lack of foresight in the Federal Government’s decision to ban the live sheep trade in favour of more onshore processing.

“It’s a tough business,” Mr Smith said.

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“It’s only a margin business — you have to be working at capacity everyday because you have fixed costs that remain the same.”

He said because of the energy and labour costs involved in the sector, when there was a shortage of supply, it could easily send a small business to the wall financially, unless it had some cash in reserves to carry it through.

The Carnarvon Abattoir Complex has been on the market with Nutrien Harcourts for about two years without much interest.

It had its export abattoir approval revoked in 2004, and has been sitting unused for about 18 years after functioning as a goat and lamb processing facility.

The lack of available and consistent supply to the Carnarvon Abattoir Complex would make it hard to get it off the ground again.

The WA Meat Industry Authority currently lists 28 licensed abattoirs in WA, including four WA College of Agriculture sites, Murdoch University, Karnet Prison Farm, and Konynen Farm at Baldivis which is set up for only rabbits.

Early this year the State Government assisted the Kimberley Meat Company to stay afloat for the season with the first shipment of live cattle from Darwin to Broome after the Fitzroy River Bridge was destroyed by flooding, cutting off its major supply source from the East Kimberley region.

The Dardanup Butchering Company also received a Value Added Grant from the State Government of $750,000 this year to assist in installing a new pork floor at its Bunbury plant — which will be a major support to the local pork industry — but may not have happened without the funding.

Mr Smith is currently selling the Hagan Bros Abattoir at Geraldton, which has been trading for more than 45 years and currently doing service kills for the local IGA Supermarket and butcher.

Situated on 39 hectares with a manager’s house and plant infrastructure, as well as a small refrigerated truck for deliveries, the abattoir is expected to fetch about $2m.

“It’s the only one licensed and operating in the Geraldton area,” Mr Smith said.

“It’s very low tech but able to process 300 sheep and about 10-20 cattle per day.”

The Hagans employ five staff on site, most of whom are qualified meat inspectors.

Without the local meat supply Geraldton retailers would have to source their stock from further afield, pushing up freight costs and ultimately retail prices.

A spokeswoman for Prime Meat Co said the Waroona abattoir had been kept in excellent condition.
Camera IconA spokeswoman for Prime Meat Co said the Waroona abattoir had been kept in excellent condition. Credit: Supplied/Prime Meat Co

CBRE currently has two mortgagee sales on the market, by agent Phil Melville, in the Geraldton Meat Exports abattoir and the Waroona Abattoir, both owned by Iranian businessman Mahmoud Parastesh, of the International Meat Co Pty Ltd.

Mr Melville declined to comment on the properties, but Countryman understands that Mr Parastesh had purchased both the abattoirs, along with the Gingin Abattoir, in order to supply the Iranian market.

After investing about $1m in the Gingin Abattoir he decided to sell it in order to fund upgrades to the other two sites, which he had failed to find enough financial backing for.

Last year the Goodchilds Abattoir in Australind, which was placed into voluntary administration in 2018, sold to Western Meat Packers Group for about $1.1 million.

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