Tongala

Other Names

  • HW Greenham and Sons1
  • Echuca abattoir

Current Operation

  • Currently operating as at time of writing 03.03.2014.
  • Aus meat Establishment #02348
  • Export accredited abattoir8

Location   

  • Tongala is 30km South east of Echuca, Inside the Victorian northern border.

Australia. Tongala

Tongala

Hema Maps – Australia Truckies atlas.

Owner

Operation   

  • Supplies to the US grinding meat market1
    • lean manufacturing-grade product5
    • Selling mainly to Burger King8
  • Focuses on processing of dairy cull cows and bulls5
  • Significant feature of operations is development of direct relationship with producers, buys majority of its meat over the hooks5
  • Production 100% beef, 95% exported and 5% sold domestically5
  • Has a policy of not deducting transaction levies, yard fees or commissions from farmers payments opting to pay these charges on the farmers behalf.8
  • Sources stock supply from Goulburn valley and Campaspe region of northern Victoria into the New south Wales Riverina District.11

History

Top 25 red meat processing statistics for HW Greenham are for their processing capacity at Tongala and Smithton abattoir (Tas) combined.

1993

  • Pioneered the Hot boning concept in Australia.5
    • Hot boning is when carcase is immediately cut up after slaughter, boxed and frozen.
    • Significantly lower labour costs in processing, refrigeration and storage than cold processing7
  • Commenced operation of new hot boning room at Tongala2
    • Had previously operated abattoirs in Victoria. underwent a major business structure change and purchased Tongala.2

2000

  • Instigated the Greenhams Dairy scholarship2

2001

  • Exporting 24,300t pa to USA, slaughtering more than 164,000 cattle, beef and dairy2

2002

  • Australia’s top 25 beef and sheepmeat processors – HW Greenham debutes into ranking at 15th.4
    • Throughput ETCW 2002 Calendar year 46,000t,4
    • 1.7% of national beef kill share.4
    • Turnover $176M4
    • Employees 470 people4

2003

  • Australia’s top 25 beef and sheepmeat processors – HE Greenham  ranks 12th.7
      • Throughput ETCW 2004 Calendar year 51,000t,7
      • Turnover $200M7
      • Employs 470 people6

2004

  • Australia’s top 25 beef and sheepmeat processors – HW Greenham ranks 13th.5
    • Throughput ETCW 2004 Calendar year 52,500t,5
    • 2% of National beef kill share6
    • Turnover $230M5
    • Employs 470 people6

2005

  • Greenham’s commission a feasibility study into establishing a specialist facility to process graindfed beef for the Asian markets3
    • Plant to be be built adjacent to existing Tongala facility3
    • Would utilise current infrastructure of waste water treatment, management and logistic efficencies3

2006

  • Australia’s top 25 beef and sheepmeat processors – HW Greenham ranks at 12th.5
    • Throughput ETCW 2006 Calendar year 53,500t,5
    • 1.9% of national beef kill share.5
    • Employees 470 people5

2007

  • Australia’s top 25 beef and sheepmeat processors – HW Greenham ranks 9th.7
    • Throughput ETCW 2007 Calendar year 58,000t,7
      • Tongala processed 168,000 head throughput 38,000t8
      • Smithton abattoir (Tas) processed 72,000 head throughput 20,000t8
    • 2.02% of national beef kill share.7
    • Employees 360 people7
    • Production split 90% export, 10% domestic
  • Local producers had never seen times as tough as now (2007), farmers are culling hundreds of cows from herds. Tongala Farmer Frank Walsh had planned to be milking 700 cows, they were down to 100.8
    • Culls going to other farmers with feed or the abattoirs8
    • Cow get $300-$400, if able to be kept would earn 10X that in milk production but producers don’t have water for crops for fodder8

2008

  • January. Looking to expand chiller capacity but due to increased volume of processing at Smithton (Tasmania) abattoir announced extension would be placed on hold.1
    • Development needed due to lack of dairy cows due to drought and facility would have provided chilling capacity for cold boning of prime cattle10
  • Current US market for grinding beef quite buoyant, expansion could have helped to open up additional markets1
  • Report cites Tongala as employing 200 staff and processing 38,000t of meat per annum.10

2009

  • September. 105 jobs to be cut in October
    • Currently employing 213 people before job cuts, one of the two daily shifts at the hot boning plant would be cut.13
    • Shortage of cattle in the Goulburn valley, dairy herds have been cut back dramatically meant fewer cows for culling and processing.12
    • Milk production in the Goulburn valley plummeted from 2.8B (2000) litres to 2B (2009)12
    • Milk forcast to drop a further 12.5%, compared to 1% in Gippsland and 2% in Victorias west.12
    • 40% reduction in dairy farms in the NE of Victoria, lower water allocations and fall in milk prices.13
    • Workers would receive full entitlements12
    • 10% of the people in the Tongala township work in the meat industry and another 14% in dairy farming.12
    • 150 jobs had been lost when Nestle milk factory had closed in 200512
    • For every job lost from the abattoir meant another 3 jobs affected in the town.12

2012

  • Tongala plant operating at reduced capacity due to availability of stock14
    • Current capacity was 350 head a day14
    • requiring workforce of 150 people14
  • 12 full time positions were devoted to demands of quality assurance of meat and testing equipment14
  • USA declared that a further 6 forms of E coli to be tested – called the ‘big six’14
    • Testing to start June and at significant cost to Australian processors14
    • A single AQIS inspector costs $182,394 a year.14
      • Tongala operates two chains (hot & Cold) and therefore needs 2 AQIS inspectors14
    • Federal Government axed 40% subsidy of meat Inspectors in October 2011.14
    • Export companies now to wear the full cost – Estimated at $8 per head an animal, $2M a year for the industry.14
    • Current sampling cost $30 a test, ‘Big Six’ testing would double that.14
    • US market arguably the most demanding market to supply, some exporters regarded US as last choice becasue it was commercially unattractive.14
    • Nothing can be shipped unless it all tests clear.14
    • Tongala analyse 100 swabs and meat tests each day14
  • Tongala currently processing 25,000t annually14

2013

  • February. Video by Animals Australia activist claim cruelty to bobby calves16
    • PrimeSafe investigate and consider insufficent grounds to prosecute16
    • PrimeSafe issued a warning to take corrective actions17
    • unannounced PrimeSafe visits followed and showed no breach of welfare17
  • December. 50 new jobs, launch of afternoon shift.15
    • Abattoir now at three quarters its maximum capacity15

2014

  • Processing about 700 bulls and dairy cows a day
  • Drawing stock from about 3000 farmers
  • 90% of the annual 180,000t goes to the US hamburger trade

Sources

  1. ‘Delay in works at Tongala abattoir’ http://www.greenham.com.au, accessed 30.01.2013.
  2. Tongala History. http://www.greenham.com.au Acessed 30.01.13.
  3. ‘Greenham’s development proposal a potential boost for local economy’ Shire of Campaspe 20.10.2005
  4. Top 25 processors. MLA. Feedback Sept 2003
  5. Top 25 Processors. MLA. Feedback Sept 2007.
  6. Top 25 processors. MLA Feedback Oct. 2005
  7. Top 25 Processors. MLA Feedback Sept 2008
  8. ‘Milkers just so much hamburger’ www.news.com.au 07.04.2007
  9. Aus meat accreditation list. 28.02.2014
  10. Background paper for Lower Murray-Darling Basin Inquiry. August 2009
  11. Removed reference.
  12. ‘Jobs Carnage as drought savages bush abattoir’ The Age. 21.09.2009
  13. ‘No rain, no meat, no work at Tongala abattoir’ Stock and Land. 22.09.2009
  14. ‘Jenny Kelly visits HW Greenham & sons Pty Ld’ The Meat Trade Daily. 17.03.2012
  15. ‘Job boost a local abattoir’ The Advisor. Undated.
  16. ‘Victorian abattoir accused of cruel treatment of unwanted dairy calves’ Lateline. 01.02.2013
  17. ‘Abattoir formally warned for mistreatment of dairy calves’ www.mmg.com.au 06.02.2013
  18. ‘Empire of the son, the Greenhams tradition continues’ Weekly times. 29.01.2014

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