HUNDREDS of new jobs have been created through a $62 million expansion to one of Queensland’s largest abattoirs.
SunPork Group will open a new state-of-the-art facility at its Kingaroy Swickers pig processing plant today.
About 200 extra jobs have been created by the expansion, which doubles the factory’s processing capacity.
The number of pigs handled each week will increase from 21,000 to 40,000; 750 an hour.
SunPork Group managing director Robert van Barneveld said the abattoir, the state’s largest, was at capacity.
“There was no room for the Queensland pork industry to grow,” he said.
The $62 million expansion improves animal welfare, water efficiency and includes a new snap-chill facility to extend product shelf life by 15 per cent, Dr van Barneveld said.
With about 750 employees Swickers is the South Burnett’s most significant employer, Dr van Barneveld said. “The raw growth of the business has driven additional employees,” he said.
This expansion follows a $90 million factory rebuild in 2017 after fire gutted the facility one year earlier.
“We’ve certainly come back bigger and better following the fire in November 2016 which destroyed the boning room and chillers,” Dr van Barneveld said.
He admitted the pork industry was “in a state of flux” due to drought, international trade wars and the outbreak of African Flying Fever in China.
“There’s never a good time to make this type of investment,” he said of the $62 million expansion.
“In agriculture, there are always ups and downs.
“It’s come from a low point with very low prices for pork and very high prices for feed.
“Pig prices have rebounded but feed prices are at a record high.”
SunPork estimates about $50 million worth of salaries are injected into rural Australian communities each year.
“There’s a lot of positive flow-on effects for the regions,” Dr van Barneveld said.
From process workers to administration staff and managers, SunPork Group has a range of jobs on offer.
“(We want) employees who are passionate about what they do and who want to work for a company with a strong future underpinned by family values,” Dr van Barneveld said.