New Zealand cooperative food company Alliance Group has announced plans to expand and enhance a proposed new venison plant.

Alliance Group, a co-operative owned by around 5,000 farmer shareholders, said it is also moving into the UK and US with “value added propositions”. 

Plans for a new venison processing facility in a refurbished beef building at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill were announced last year but the project has now been revised.

The new NZD15.2m (US$11.1m) plan includes design innovations, improved handling facilities, enhanced configuration, increased slaughterboard size, a wider boning room and an increased offal area. 

The plant will also be capable of accommodating technological developments when they become available.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said: “This greater investment reinforces the cooperative’s commitment to the New Zealand deer industry and will ensure we have world-class modern facilities, reflecting our position as a leading and innovative processor. 

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“It also demonstrates the company is continuing to deliver on our strategy of investing in the future, lowering our cost base and delivering higher returns to our farmer shareholders.”

The new processing facility is expected to be operational next year. In the meantime, deer will continue to be processed at Alliance Group’s Makarewa plant near Invercargill and Smithfield facility in Timaru.

On its plans for the US and UK markets, Surveyor said: “A major driver of this is our Pure South programme to increase out of season chilled consumption, coupled with a general growth in seasonal chilled venison – resulting in a more diverse market and currency mix.”