Swift Australia today (9 December) reopened its King Island abbatoir, with assistance from the Tasmanian state government.

Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett said the multi-million dollar upgrade of the King Island abattoir ensured a sustainable and long-term future for jobs and the local economy. 

Bartlett joined King Island Mayor Charles Arnold to officially open the refurbished Swift Australia abattoir and celebrate a new beginning for the plant which faced closure last year.

“This vindicates the Government’s decision to step in and save the abattoir which today continues to be one of the mainstays of the King Island economy,” Bartlett said. “We took decisive action to protect the livelihoods of workers and to help secure the ongoing operation of the abattoir.”

Swift Australia, which is owned by Brazilian group JBS, operates ten meat processing plants and five feedlots throughout Australia.

The Tasmanian state government decided to underwrite the company’s losses while it conducted a review of the business, and later provided a A$12m loan to facilitate the upgrade, in an attempt to save 80 jobs at the plant.

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“King Island beef is an iconic brand and the abattoir is crucial to the local economy. My objective was always to ensure the continued operation of the abattoir as a viable and sustainable business despite the challenges it faced last year,” Bartlett said.

“The workers and the King Island community can now look forward with renewed confidence and optimism about the future. King Island undoubtedly has the best known brand for a small and isolated community in Australia and its iconic beef is extremely important to ongoing marketing and promotional opportunities.

Bartlett said the successful completion of the upgrade was a great example of what can be achieved when State and Local governments together with industry work collaboratively.

“I congratulate the King Island Council on its hard work in partnership with the state government and Swift Australia,” Bartlett said.

Australian Food News is Australia’s leading resource for the food industry, delivering daily news from the grocery, retail and hospitality sectors to 40,000 professionals each month.