Goodman Fielder meat sale attracts criticism

Goodman Fielder meat sale attracts criticism

The proposed sale of Goodman Fielder's New Zealand meat business to sausage and bacon supplier Hellers has attracted criticism over plans to close one of the unit's processing facilities.

The disposal, announced earlier this month, would see Hellers transfer processing activities from the site in Frankton to plants in Christchurch and Auckland. Should the deal proceed, the Frankton facility, which employs 125 people, would be closed.

The company has launched a consultation process with employees. "It is the only process we are working through and it is confidential. We are considering all feedback received from our employees and [FIRST] union, in accordance with our legal obligations," a spokesperson for the group told just-food.

Reports citing FIRST Union have suggested that a "consortium of investors" could emerge with a counter bid for the business. However, the spokesperson revealed a formal offer has not been tabled. "We have not received a formal bid as part of that [consultation] process."

In an attempt to block the transaction, three Hamilton councillors - Martin Gallagher, Dave Macpherson and Ewan Wilson - have asked New Zealand's Competition Commission to investigate the deal, Gallagher, Macpherson and Wilson claim that the deal would result in Hellers having a market share of more than 50%.

Goodman Fielder's meats business processes Brooks Deli continental meats and bacon, Hutton's luncheon, bacon and ham, Sizzlers pre-cooked small goods and Milano cooked continental meats in New Zealand. Hellers, meanwhile, sells a "wide range of hams, bacons, sausages and luncheon products", Goodman Fielder said.

Labour MP Sue Moroney has also launched an online petition in protest against the deal.

Goodman Fielder moved to sell the business in a bid to rationalise its portfolio and focus on core activities.

The company also struck a deal to sell off its pizza business to Mommas Frozen Products this month. The combined proceeds from the transactions are expected to total NZ$15-17m (US$12.5-14.1m) and will be used to pay down net debt, the company said.

Goodman Fielder said the disposals represented the "near conclusion" of its strategy to refocus on its core categories, where it has "market-leading, profitable positions".