Murray Bridge

 Current Operation

  • Accredited to AUS-MEAT
    • Establishment Number 0533.


Australia. Murray Bridge16.06.13

Map Murray Bridge


  • (1999)T & R (Murray Bridge) Pty Ltd
  • Thomas and Rowe Families. (2008 Thomas’s bought out Rowe’s)
  • Thomas Foods International (name change from T & R)March 2013.4


  • Export abattoir
  • Beef, sheep, goats1
  • T & R is the largest family-owned multi species export processor, with 120,000 sheep and lambs + 5000 cattle processed across 3 states each week3
  • Also own abattoirs Lobethal (SA), Tamworth (NSW), Wallangarra (NSW)3
  • T & R is biggest lotfeeder in SA – 6500 cattle on-feed Wanderribby Feedlot, Meningie3
  • Headquarters based at Murray Bridge3
  • Purchased 50% share of diversified wholesaler/distributor Holco meat5
  • Turnover of $1.3B, is nations largest lamb and mutton exporter and significant beef, exports 80% to more than 80 countries5
  • 80% of beef is value added – Brand labels – Country Fresh, FoodComm (USA) & Holco3




  • District ratepayers vote against a proposal, conducted at a recent council election, to establish a district abattoir at Murray Bridge.66
    • For 466 votes, Against 845 votes.66


  • March 2.High court in Melbourne ruled that South Australia (MEAB Gepps Cross (SA)) could not challenge the validity of the commonwealth regulations in regards to being sole authority of meat export in that state (Pg 88).8
  • July 4. Privy court in London ruled South Australia’s claim was invalid to be sole authority of slaughter of stock for meat export in that state (Pg 88).8
  • Noarlunga Abattoir (SA) victory in the courts effectively spelt the end of the monopoly held by Gepps Cross works and saw a number of other abattoirs begin operation with a view to export meat (Pg 89).8


  • Meat Trader RK Bartholomew and trade Buyer RF Hooper purchase Murray Bridge Meatworks(Pg 89).8
    • RK Bartholomew of Bartholomew Meat, Lobethal
    • RF Hooper of Murray Bridge


  • Owners of Murray Bridge hold talks with councillors and business people to expand the works
    • Intend to process per year (Pg 89).8
      • 250,000 sheep and lambs
      • 25,000 cattle
      • 10,000 calves
    • Would use Charles David Pty Ltd (Sydney based) for business administration and export services
  • Expansion of the Murray Bridge site would reduce the number of animals transported to Victoria for processing (Pg 89).8


  • T & R at this time are part owners of Murray Bridge with Adelaide Steamship subsidiary Metro Meat.27
    • Adsteam went broke and sold their share to Chinese investment conglomerate Citic.27


  • Abattoir facilities purchased by T & R3.
  • T & R buy the Chinese share (Citic), having to make a decision to sell with them or buy them out27
  • T & R purchase the Murray Bridge abattoir from Citic Australia10
    • At this time the facility employed 250 people10.


  • Darren Thomas becomes CEO of T & R.27
    • Mr Darren Thomas is the son of the part owner of T & R, Chris Thomas.27
    • Bob Rowe owns share of T & R27
  • Chronic labour shortage in meat industry and meat processors are accused of using 457 temporary visa programs to bring in skilled labour but underpaying and using the people for other work positions.6
      • Visas granted to industries nationwide (not only meat processors) jumped 40% from previous year.6
    • Freeze was placed on 457 Visa applications to meatworks by Government over concerns of breach’s of conditions. – Delays are said to be hampering meatwork operations6
      • lack of employees have some processors throwing product away rather than be processed due to lack of labour and is causing missed opportunities in export markets6
  • 457 Visa means worker must stay with employer for 4 years, Meant to meet criteria of skilled slaughtermen and only used for that position, not as unskilled labourers, boners.6
  • Recruitment companies find the workers and match to employer, usually the employer finds accommodation and deducts rent and travel from workers salaries – AMIEU claim exorbitant rents are being charged1
  • Union complaining that 457 Visas workers. “Workers who are being brought into Australia are in many cased being exploited, are being abused , and not being paid correctly and being misused at work” Graham Bird AMIEU6
  • Cranbourne abattoir (Vic) employ 20 Chinese workers – they are bussed to the abattoir from homes rented by the company, all 457 visas. – Cranbourne say its operations are all above board6
  • Murray Bridge abattoir is subject of investigation into whether it is using visa holders to do other jobs6
  • Subject of Government investigation, if 457 Visa holders are doing other jobs.6
  • Western Australia had 36 Investigations, 80% of employers found to be in breach of conditions and WA department of employment protection recovered $200,000 in underpayment of wages (Authors note – article didn’t specify if across all industries or only meat processing)6
  • T & R subscribe to 457 visa program for 457 standard business visa’s and 457 visa’s under Labour agreements across its’ 3 production facilities16


  • Thomas’s buy out the full share of the Rowes holdings in T & R.27
    • Bob Rowe is currently 72.27
  • Murray Bridge is currently processing 3,000 sheep and lambs and 300 cattle a day27


  • T & R purchase a 50% share of Foodcomm International10.
    • Foodcomm International operated primarily in the USA10


  • Major refurbishment of plant – Capacity 700 cattle, 8000 lambs a day5
  • Cutting edge technology – loin, leg and trunk lamb boning machines, site prepares value added product5.
  • USDA accredited, contracts approved for McDonalds, Burger King, Woolworths and Coles5.
  • January. A new product brand is launched – Thomas Farms Meat.10
  • July. Turnover for 2009 / 2010 $800M10.
    • T & R is the largest Australian-owned meat business10
    • At this time many other processors had been struggling but T & R has continued to expand into domestic and export markets10.
      • High Australian dollar and tough economic conditions globally10
    • Exports for the 2009 / 2010 period totalled $600M10
  • South Australia processed more lambs than New South Wales for the first time ever10.
  • T & R currently employ 16 livestock buyers10
    • Don’t rely on the auction system, apart from top-ups10.
      • Allows a more consistent supply of livestock for processing10
  • T & R currently employ about 1,600 people across two facilities of Murray Bridge and Lobethal (SA).10
  • T & R has recently purchased NSW Country Fresh Australia on July 5, 201010.
    • T & R now employ 2,000 people nationally10
    • Daily capacity of 26,000 sheep and lambs and 800 cattle10.
  • Darren Thomas, T & R Chief Executive predicts a prosperous 5 years ahead for the industry10


  • Organic processing. 80-300 head a week.


  • February. Receive $3.25M carbon abatement grants – Clean technology allocations2
  • Project cost $9.744 involving 4 sub projects – reduce emissions by 29% saving $1.1M year
  1. convert single meal processing line into 2 higher efficiency streams
  2. replace 4 natural gas fired boilers with 2 new boiler packages using LPG and biogas
  3. replace current blood drier with more energy efficient one
  4. replace current odour burners with bio filter2.
  • March.  Changing brand and identity – Now Thomas Foods International (TFI)
  • July. Facility is evacuated due to a liquid ammonia leak in the roof.12
  • October. Bob Rowe, Founder of T & R dies13
    • Bob and a partner Alan Turner had established T & R Pastoral, a livestock trading operation in the 1970’s13
  • TFI purchase potato producer – Mondello farms38
    • Mondello had gone into receivership early in 2013.38
      • Mondello had undertaken rapid expansion, but also had a price squeeze on potatoes in the supermarkets27
    • One of Australia’s biggest growers and packers of potatoes38
    • Revenue of $50 – $60M, based in Adelaide38
  • New beef kill floor had been completed this year17


  • March. Announcement is made of plans to spend $30M on a wastewater-based biogas generation and utilisation project and upgrades at Murray Bridge37.
    • $10M wastewater storage treatment facility37
      • 2 covered lagoons, producing 8,000 cubic metres of methane daily37
      • Gas used to offset natural gas use in the facility37
        • Generate 30% of the facilities energy requirements.14
        • reduce carbon emissions by 6,800 metric tonnes of CO2 per year14
      • Capacity to store 4ML of water a day37
        • 120 ha or surrounding pastures irrigated.37
        • Storage lagoons will be 5 times larger in size than the Adelaide Oval.14
    • $11M sustainable energy program.37
      • Two 10 megawatt dual-fuel boilers.37
      • reduce carbon emissions under the Federal Governments Clean Technology Investment Program (CTIP)37
      • T & R contributed $7M while receiving $3M for this project.37
  • “We see it as vital to our future growth in the global red meat industry that we continue to innovate and to be an efficient processor promoting world’s best practice and hygiene, health and safety” Mr David McKay. TFI director of operations.14
    • $5M upgrade to the Beef plant component of Murray Bridge37
      • Increase the output of the facility by 25%27
      • State Regional Development to contribute $2.5M64
      • Improvements to create 200 jobs.64
    • $5.5M expansion to the lairage facilities, holding yards and receive yards.37
      • Setting benchmarks for animal welfare standards37
  • T & R current director of operations. David McKay37
  • T & R facilities across Australia currently processes 120,000 lambs and sheep, and 5,000 cattle per week37
  • T & R reveals it knocks back offers almost weekly from foreign companies and foreign investors looking to buy its booming business15
  • T & R want to stay locally, family and Australian-owned15
    • Increasingly difficult to raise enough capital within Australia to fund the companies expansion.15
  • Thomas Food International (TFI) currently process 6,000 cattle and 120,000 lambs and sheep a week.15
    • Plans to launch its own line of branded lamb and beef in Australia within the next 6 months.15
  • April. T & R purchase a 50% share of Holco Meat, wholesale / distributor.63
    • T & R and Holco had a long term relationship of working together.63
    • Holco has an annual turnover of $130M63.
    • Holco will distribute T & R’s Country Fresh branded products63
    • Holco deliver fresh beef, chicken, lamb and pork to restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, commercial caterers, mining sites and healthcare organisations.63
  • T & R currently have a turnover of $1.3B63
    • Australia’s largest lamb and mutton exporter and a significant beef exporter.63
    • 80% of produce is exported to 80 different countries.63
      • One third of exports are high-value grass-fed beef and lamb to US markets.15
        • Generates revenue of $300M38
        • $20M being currently spent on improvements in facilities in Philadelphia38
  • T & R currently operate 4 abattoirs, including Murray Bridge,63
  • T & R currently employ 2,500 people, Holco will add a further 300 employees63
    • TFI had worked hard with unions to keep  labour costs of employees down15
    • 150 Chinese workers had been brought into the facility on 457 visas.15
      • Importing of workers had been very good with many bringing their families and growing up in Murray Bridge area15
  • Murray Bridge facility has current capacity for 700 cattle, 800 lambs a day63
    • Is USDA and EU-accredited.63
    • Has approved contracts with McDonalds, Burger King, Woolworths and Coles.63
  • Darren Thomas, TFI chief executive warns of other food business’s becoming pre-occupied with China and it’s food demand growth predictions.15
    • TFI had found other markets more profitable and easier to trade with15
  • TFI has a war chest of $100M for further acquisitions in the food industry and to bolster overall business.38
  • TFI have annual turnover approaching $1.6B38
  • There would be further rationalisation in the meat processing industry in Australia in a low-margin, high-volume sector where size is becoming increasingly important to extract economies of scale38
  • July. Thomas foods encouraging adoption of Individual Electronic identification (IED) of sheep7
  • Note NLIS is compulsory for cattle in Australia but currently mob identification is acceptable for sheep.7
  • Sheep IED costly, $0.83 per head in Victoria – where it is subsidised but $1.10 per tag in other states.7
  • European Union all ready do IED, could force onto Australian producers7
    • highly likely in the next 3-5 years7
  • TFI anticipate an increase of sales growth above 10% in the 2014/2015 period.38
  • TFI have subscribed to 457 visa programme since 2006.16
    • Visa program has delivered significant frustrations across the business.16
      • Temporary Skilled Migration income Threshold (TSMIT) is too high and is higher than local enterprise agreements (ETA) creating an unfair balance between local workforce and rates established under ETA’s16
      • Most meat process workers are having difficulties in passing an English language requirements.16
        • TFI are not able to attract and recruit appropriately skilled people.16
      • TFI suggest that a condition of visa be that the worker must stay with nominated employer for the whole of the duration of the visa16
        • poaching is occurring of workers which increases costs of recruitment, retention and training.16


  • January. Regional development fund contribute $2.5M to the Murray Bridge new boning facility upgrades.64
  • Upgrades are nearing completion.64
    • Stage 1 was to the boning room.64
      • Enabled incorporation of cutting edge technology, increased shelf life and processing efficiency.17
      • Single chain using side chain boning. Believed to the first time this full process has been used in an Australian red meat plant.17
      • Extensive use of CIP (Clean In Place) belts in the conveyor system17
    • Stage 2 and 3 will be to fit out value-adding area and increase chilling capacity64
      • Latest technology in refrigeration, conveyor systems, sortation, vacuum packaging and hygiene.17
        • 3 large rotary sealed air cryovac machines installed17
      • Unique feature is an industry first Trim sortation that used analyse to specific meat grades that allowed further value adding along the chain.17
        • Allows for blending / mixing facility and multi batching the product.17
        • Allows a large scale production facility to package to the highest value by blending up.17
      • Purpose built air handling facility that allows constant room temperature that is well-filtered, clean and efficent17
      • 2 large plate freezers to be installed near the end of the year17
  • Upgrades are expected to cost $25.4M64

BC 20.03.2015

New Beef boning room at Murray Bridge

Source –‘TFI’s new Murray Bridge boning room re-sets standards for processing’ Beef Central 20.03.2015.

  • March. First shift in the new boning room occurs.17
    • New facility if built directly below the plants existing lamb boning room that was built in 2010.17
    • Project has been in the planning and construction for 2 years.17
    • Expansion has not compromised the plant’s lamb kill which is currently 11,000 head a day.17
    • Only a week missed between the last boning day in the old facility to starting in the new.17
  • Murray Bridge now likely to employ about 1,550 people17
  • The new Beef line will increase to an intended 1,200 head per day.17
    • Moving from a two-shift daily boning on the old boning room capable of 850 head a day to a single shift in the new boning room with a capacity of 1,200 head per day over a 6 day week.17
    • the original boning room will be re-purposed with half to additional chiller capacity and remainder and expanded and improved value added facility17
  • TFI is the largest private employer in the regional area.17
  • July. TFI revenue now about $1.5B18
  • TFI is operating 4 abattoirs, processing 7,200 cattle and 131,000 small stock a week plus service kills through Casino (NSW).18
    • Also had 40,000 cattle on feed at Wanderribby feedlot at Meningie, Iranda feedlot at Tintinara and Myola feedlot in NSW18
  • TFI had managed to continue to grow against mass abattoir rationalisation and a plummeting national sheep flock18
  • TFI have spent $300M over 15 years to improve efficiency and environmental sustainability of its plants18
  • AMIEU delegate, Greg Mitchell tells a Senate Inquiry into 457 Visas that;
    1. half of the abattoir staff at Murray Bridge are backpackers or on 457 Visa workers.19
    2. That 5 employment companies supply the workers and underpay them.19
    3. Workers are charged $400 employment fee and accommodation costs.19
  • TFI’s Chief Operating Officer David Mckay denied the ‘outrageous accusations’19
    • The company was forced to turn to international labour because “Some Australians lack the work ethic, or failed drug tests at recruitment” D. McKay.19
    • TFI had been allocated 140 workers on 457 visa’s, he didn’t know how many were backpackers but denied it was as high as 60019


  • March. Magistrates Court of SA finds a labour hire employer who supplied a worker to Murray Bridge guilty of failing to provide a safe system of work, failure to provide information, instruction, training and supervision after a worker had suffered severe burns from caustic soda.20
    • Employer was convicted and fined $240,00020
  • April. TFI release media advert looking for employees.21
  • TFI across the group now employ nearly 3,000 people21
  • May. TFI release media advert looking for employees22
  • November. Foodbank, a relief organisation for people in need announce a partnership between TFI and Fletcher International Exports to expand the meat program that enables Foodbank to supply 800,000 sausages annually to people25


  • April. TFI join the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS)39
    • PCAS is an assurance program that enables industry to prove claims relating to pasturefed or grassfed production methods.
  • TFI are currently processing 120,000 sheep, goats and lambs per week and 5,000 cattle across Australia.39
    • Australian and 85 overseas destinations.39
  • June. South Australia power prices to rise to the highest in the world40
    • An Adelaide plastics recycling company announced it was forced into liquidation due to power prices that seen its monthly bills increase from $80,000 to $180,000 over the last 18 months.40
  • July. One of the TFI plants is included in a suspension list of facilities that supply meat to China, due to labelling concerns.30
    • Lifting of China’s suspension doesn’t get resolved until October 31, 2017.
    • 6 plants delisted had supplied 30% of Australian exports to China.
    • Loss of the trade is estimated at $1M per day.
  • September. Malaysia suspends imports of meat from 3 Australian Facilities.30
    • Included TFI30
  • November. TFI announce forward lamb contract for Murray Bridge and Lobethal.41
    • 18-32 kg cross bred lambs delivered December to March.41
      • Requirements of 2-5 score paying 600-620c/kg41
      • Minimum consignment of 100 head.41
    • Merino lambs 590c /kg to the end of January 2018.41
      • Reducing to 570c/kg. after that.41
    • TFI were offering 50c/kg upside to give producers market confidence.41
  • TFI purchase 1.5 year old first cross ewes for their own property production near Millicent.65
    • TFI Pay a record $366 per head for sheep.65
  • Chris Thomas views on future opportunities for Australian Beef;43
    1. Niche products, brands and programs will be where the value exists as the way red meat is sold changes rapidly and consumer demand evolves.43
    2. Vertically integrated, collaborative supply chains is the only way the advanced level of traceability and quality can be delivered, with the flow of factual, genuine information to the consumer.43
    3. There is an over capacity of processing space compared to the number of livestock in Australia and herd rebuilding will be constantly challenged by competing uses of land and environmental constraints.43
    4. Processors are moving further down the value chain into meal solutions, e-commerce, aged care sector, advancements in food safety and even alternatives to meat.43
    5. Employees and the availability of skilled labour, remains the single largest constraint on growth for the processing sector.43
  • Murray Bridge is currently processing 55,000 sheep and lambs and 5,000 cattle per week.43
  • Murray Bridge is capable of processing 11,000 small stock and 1200 head of cattle per day.44
    • Lobethal (SA)processes 25,000 sheep/lambs/goats a week43
    • Tamworth (NSW) processes 50,000 sheep/lambs /goats a week43
    • Wallangarra (QLD) is currently dormant43
    • Mandurah (WA) is currently dormant.43


  • January 3. Murray Bridge plant is engulfed in fire.44
    • Fire was started by a welding spark during routine maintenance near a ‘highly combustible wall (foam insulated panelling)’44
      • Fire containment was difficult due to starting in the basement and ran in to the thick foam linings of the walls, making it almost impossible to extinguish32
    • No livestock or staff were injured due the fire.44
    • Major damage has occurred to the beef and lamb boning room44
  • Facility is fully insured but it could take atleast 12 – 18 months for reconstruction to occur.44
    • Facility is valued at more than $200M35
    • Killfloor, freezing and chilling infrastructure remain intact and in serviceable condition.44
      • Possible animal carcases could be transported to other facilities for processing but raises issues of regulatory and licensing.44
      • Likely Lobethal will absorb some of the small stock capacity of Murray Bridge with a double shift and workers transferred there.44
      • Cattle would likely be processed at another facility interstate.44

Farm online #2 05.01.2018. Peri Strathearn

Murray Bridge abattoir on fire  04/01/2018. Source  Farm Online 04.01.2018.

Adelaide advertiser 04.01.2018

Murray Bridge abattoir on fire 04/01/2018 Source Adelaide Now. 08.01.2018

  • Murray Bridge release a media statement thanking staff and for their actions during evacuation and safe relocation of stock.46
    • Staff will not be allowed to return to the site until the area has been declared safe.46
    • Alternative processing arrangements across the group operations is being made.46
    • Damage is still being assessed to plan the necessary repairs.46

11.1.2018. The land

Murray Bridge abattoir fire. Source. The Land. 11.01.2018

  • January 8. Murray Bridge release a media statement explaining considerations to assist employees affected by the fire at the facility47
    • Management has met with AMIEU to work collaboratively to ensure best outcomes for staff.47
    • Approximately 1,400 people are employed at the facility
      • 900 are permanent53
    • Murray Bridge workforce will be on leave for 2 weeks effective 08/01/2018 as company works through redeployment strategies.47
      • Some employees have been moved to Lobethal (SA)31
    • Labour Hire agencies have been contacted and ceased the temporary employment for 417 visa workers.47
      • Specialised 457 work visas are not affected31
      • Backpackers, seasonal workers have been dismissed.31
        • Thought to be less than half of the 1400 workforce31
    • Numerous offers of employment/assistance have been received from numerous organisations, including government47
    • Access to the site as yet has not been allowed.47
    • Fire is deemed as to have been accidental.47
    • Final damage bill is expected to be tens of millions of dollars.31
  • The fire is still smoldering in places as a clean up begins.48
  • January 11. Murray Bridge release a media statement explaining some redeployment of it’s staff.48
    • Tamworth (NSW)  and Lobethal (SA) plants will increase in production with increase in staff at those facilities48
      • AMIEU Newcastle based official claims no Murray Bridge employees would go to Tamworth50
      • Federal & state governments were assisting with access to Centrelink payments and rent assistance50
    • Wallangarra plant will remain closed.48
    • Rebuilding of the Murray Bridge facility is the long term focus.48

Farm online. #2 Chris Picton

Murray Bridge Fire damage. Source. Farm online. 04.01.2018

Farm online. Chris Picton

Murray Bridge fire damage. Source Farm online. 04.01.2018

  • TFI continue to purchase livestock for processing in auction markets in Victoria.50
    • reassures price support for the general value of livestock in the market.50
    • As yet the loss of Murray Bridge processing has not had a discernable effect on the meat industry.50
    • TFI wouldn’t move away from SA suppliers of livestock as it rebuilds Murray Bridge.50
    • Stock from Southern Victoria are being sent to Tamworth, Stock from Eyre Peninsula have been sent to QLD.50
    • It is intended that TFI will continue to purchase livestock and cause minimal disruption to the market.50
  • JBS and Teys in South Australia advertise for workers at their facilities.51
    • Teys, Naracoorte offered to take about 30 workers.32
  • Bindaree (NSW), Inverell advertise in the local SA papers for workers to move to their site and offer to assist TFI relocate some workers.51
  • South Australian government has set up a taskforce to help with the recovery process.32
  • Many of the TFI workers are Chinese on 457 skilled migrant workers visa’s.51
  • TFI want to retain their permanent workers for when Murray Bridge re-opens. 51
    • Lobethal was thought to be able to take about 20% of these workers51
    • AMIEU deemed Tamworth was not able to take any Murray Bridge workers but Bindaree possibly could.51
  • TFI may be negotiating with two Victorian abattoirs to process cattle32
    • O’Conners at Pakenham (Vic)32
    • Australian Meat Group at Dandenong (Vic)32
  • TFI may be able to slaughter and chill at Murray Bridge despite the fire, but needs other facilities to bone carcases.32
    • depends on meeting safety and health requirements.32
  • TFI major contracts are with Woolworths.32
    • Woolworths said there was no pressure on domestic meat supplies due to ability of the national network of meat processors to process meat.32
    • Rival meat processors were ready to fill the void if TFI didn’t supply.32
    • TFI held two weeks of meat supply, indicating it would not have trouble filling contracts.32
  • January 13. Fire at Murray Bridge abattoir is extinguished. 9 days after it started.52
  • State Government are considering ways to assist Lobethal (SA) facility to accelerate approval for access by B-double trucks to allow increase in production due to movement of stock for processing from Murray Bridge.52
    • A $14M had been underway to improve the roads between Palmer and Lobethal to allow better access to B-Doubles.52
  • January 24. Murray Bridge release a media statement regarding employment53.
    • Approximately 1,400 people were employed at the site prior to the fire
      • 900 are permanent staff.53
    • 340 Murray Bridge employees have begun work at Lobethal (SA)53
      • Another 70 positions to be made available in the short term53
      • Lobethal will double it’s production levels.53
    • 150 positions are being created at the Tamworth (NSW) plant, effective immediately53
      • This is in addition to current recruiting in place for locals at Tamworth.53
      • Tamworth will increase it’s production by 20%53
    • 90 staff remain at Murray Bridge working in specialist areas not affected by the fire.53
  • Other staff were able to be employed through a deal with Hillgrove copper and gold company.35
    • Hillgrove required staff for 2 years and agreed to employ some of the Murray Bridge staff on the agreement they return to Murray Bridge abattoir for employment when it is rebuilt, in 2 years35
  • Approximately 500 casual, backpacker or 417 Visa workers have been let go.
  • TFI have met with the insurers, now consideration is being given to the initial planning stages of a rebuild.53
    • Rebuild is expected to take between 12-24 months.53
    • Demolition work at the site has begun.53
  • February. State Government approve a grant of $1.8M to TFI to retain 50 jobs.57
    • Regional Development Fund grant is being offered to support a $5.5M project that will see the Lobethal site expanded.57
      • Expansion is expected to be completed in 30 weeks (Approximately November 2018)57
        • Increase the Lobethal plant freezing capacity.33
          • Ability to handle 3,000 cartons per day.33
  • TFI place a full page thank-you notice in the South Australian Newspaper Stock Journal58
    • Double production shifts at Lobethal (SA)58
    • Lifted Tamworth (NSW) production by 20%58
    • Sourced additional beef processing in Victoria.58
    • TFI is still seeking small stock or beef supplies from producers.58
  • March. TFI may replace the fire affected Murray Bridge facility to a greenfield site if necessary.33
    • TFI have been working with insurers and intend to rebuild the plant at it’s original location or another site if necessary.33
    • Small stock production is almost to the levels they were before the fire in January 2018.33
      • Lobethal and Tamworth are both working 6 day kills with double shifts33
  • All 900 permanent employees were offered positions34
  • G & K O’Conners, Pakenham, Victoria is processing 1,000 cattle a week so TFI can meet contracts and Woolworths service kills.34
    • Rumours suggested TFI may be engaging with take-over talks with O’Conners have been dismissed by TFI36
  • The TFI claim for Murray Bridge is the single biggest claim of insurance outside of mining for over a decade34
    • Confident of a payment to be received but as at 31/03/2018 there is no payment yet35
  • Some cattle contracts have had to be abandoned in the hope they will return when the facility is rebuilt.35
  • April. Meat processor insurance premiums are reported to be on the rise.36
    • 2 catastrophic abattoir fires over the past 18 months, Murray Bridge in January 2018 and Swickers Pork, Queensland in 2017.36
    • 2 large export processors confirmed they face rises in insurance costs for fire protection36
  • September. Fair Work Commission ruled that employees stood down with out pay after their annual leave ran out was neither fair or reasonable.60
    • Employee had been asked to take his annual leave on January 11 following the fire at the facility. Once his annual leave ran out he was to be stood down but then accepted a temporary role at Lobethal. He was asked by TFI to take a 35% pay reduction. The employee went on stress leave that expired on March 6.60
      • Taken into account was the fact of the fire as catastrophic and TFI dealing with extreme human resource challenge of dealing with over 1,000 employees, insurance, government, customers and media.60
      • Fair work commission deemed that by March 5 the loss of production was apparent and would be likely until the facility was rebuilt.60
      • It was unfair that the employee was stood down without pay some 4 months after the incident with no sign or prospect that the stand-down be brought to an end.60
      • TFI are to pay the employee an amount equal to his redundancy entitlements, any leave owed, plus full pay since March 6. This was about $20,000.60


  • January. TFI are close to a decision to rebuild or relocate the Murray Bridge facility.61
    • A greenfield site has been identified in the Murray Bridge area.61
      • Last 3 months have been spent preparing a feasibility study61
  • TFI has continued to grow internationally.61
    • Opened an office in Japan61
    • Increasing presence in China61
    • Expanding operations in the US61
    • Entering into equity partnership with Luiten Food in the Netherlands.61
      • This would be central sales and distribution centre for Europe and UK.61

Sources – Murray Bridge.

  1.  AUS_MEAT Accreditation list 14.01.13
  2. ‘Teys, T & R in latest round of carbon abatement grants’ Beef Central 18.02.13
  3. ‘SA processor T & R beefs up its business’ Beef Central 13.02.13
  4. ‘New face for T & R reflects changing nature of the business’ Beef Central. 22.03.13.
  5. ‘T & R takes 50pc stake in Holco business’ Beef Central 19.10.12
  6. ‘Meat Industry accused of exploiting foreign workers’ ABC 7.30 report 31.07.2006
  7. ‘EID drives repeat lamb market sales’ Stock Journal 17.07.2014
  8. ‘The Meat Game – A history of the Gepps Cross Abbattoirs and Livestock Markets’ Richard Maurovic
  10. Adelaide Now. ‘$800M turnover puts Murray Bridge meat processors T & R in prime Position’ 20.07.2010
  12. Adelaide Now. ‘Meatworks evacuated, workers in hospital after ammonia leat at Murray Bridge’ 03.07.2013
  13. ‘Vale, Bob Rowe’ Beef Central 10.10.2013
  14. ‘TFI forges ahead with $30M plan’ Stock Journal 24.03.2014
  15. ‘Processor succeeds with risks, 457 visas’ The Australian 27.03.2014
  16. TFI submission for Independent review of 457 visa programme. 30.04.2014
  17. ‘TFI’s new Murray Bridge boning room re-sets standards for processing’ Beef Central 20.03.2015
  18. ‘Meat success tied to trends’ Farmonline 09.07.2015
  19. ‘TFI accused of abusing and bullying workers’ Weekly Times 21.07.2015
  20. Court case. Boland V’s Big Mars Pty Ltd. 17.03.2016. SAIRC 11.
  21. Career Opportunities at TFI. April 2016
  22. TFI eyes local job seekers. 06.05.2016
  23. TFI kicks goals for Lobethal football club. TFI website. 09.05.2016
  24. Foodbank award. TFI website. 10.11.2016
  25. ‘Iranda Beef feedlot grows to 15,000 plus head’ Stock Journal 28.12.2016
  26. ‘The meat and potatoes of Australia’s dining boom’ The Australian 17.04.2014
  27. TFI-HILLGROVE. media statement Feb.2018. pdf
  28. ‘China lifts ban on Australian beef plants’ Beef Central 30.10.2017
  29. ‘Month-long halt to Malaysia meat imports for 3 Australian establishments’ ABC Rural News 19.09.2017
  30. ‘Seasonal workers’ jobs cut at Murray Bridge abattoir following major fire’ Adelaide Now. 08.01.2018
  31. ‘Thomas in rush to meet big orders after devastating fire’ The Land. 11.01.2018
  32. ‘TFI to replace Murray Bridge at ‘greenfield’ site, if necessary’ Beef Central 22.03.2018
  33. ‘TFI boss opens up on fire recovery’ Stock Journal 27.03.2018
  34. ‘Darren Thomas forges blueprint for fire disaster recovery’ The Australian 31.03.2018
  36. ‘TFI commits to $30M to Murray Bridge biogas project, plant upgrade’ Beef Central 11.03.2014
  37. ‘Meat giant’s $100M war chest’ Farm Online. 15.04.2014
  38. ‘Thomas Foods International joins PCAS’ Cattle council. 04.04.2017
  39. ‘SA power prices to rise to highest in the world…’ ABC News 28.06.2017
  40. releases forward lamb contracts of 600-620ckg for December-March 10.11.17. PDF
  41. ‘What China’s processing suspensions mean for Australian meat exports’ Beef Central 27.07.2017. PDF
  42. ‘How Thomas Foods sees beef’s future shaping up’ Farm online 17.11.2017
  43. ‘Fire engulfs TFI Murray Bridge boning room’ Beef Central 04.01.2018
  44. ‘Major fire at Thomas food international, Murray Bridge, SA’ Farm online. 04.01.2018
  49. ‘Markets up after abattoir fire’ The Land 11.01.2018. PDF
  50. ‘Thomas staff to stay, but where will they go?’ The Land 11.01.2018. PDF
  51. ‘Govt studies access to Lobethal facility’ Stock Journal 18.01.2018. PDF
  56. ‘TFI gains funding boost’ Stock Journal 22.02.2018. News paper clipping
  57. TFI full page advert. Stock Journal 01.03.2018
  59. ‘TFI stand-down ruled unfair’ Stock Journal 13.09.2018
  60. ‘TFI close to decision to ‘rebuild or relocate’ fire-ravaged Murray Bridge plant’ Beef Central 03.01.2019
  62. ‘T & R takes a pc stake in Holco Business’ Beef Central 18.04.2014
  63. ‘Growth means Murrayland jobs’. Murrayland Standard. 26.01.2015
  64. ‘South Australian processor pays record $366 for first cross ewes’ Sheep Central. 10.11.2017
  65. Trove article. Border Watch 13.07.1954.

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