Tag Archives: Queensland abattoir

Rockhampton – Lakes Creek

There is a historical Lakes Creek abattoir and the current facility that Teys operate at Rockhampton. It is not clear if the two sites are the same location or one was dismantled and another built.

Other Names

  • Rockhampton abattoir – there is another facility in Rockhampton operated by JBS, Rockhampton (QLD – JBS)
  • Lakes Creek abattoir

Current Operation

  • Aus Meat Accreditation registration dated 29/12/2015 #7 – Teys Australia Meat Group Pty Ltd.45
    • registered as a Beef, Offal export facility.45
  • Direct employment enquiries to Teys Employment Information

Location   Owner

Teys Logo_edited-1Source http://www.teysaust.com.au. the Teys-Cargill Australia Logo


  • Teys operate 3 feedlots12
    • Jindalee (NSW)12
    • Condamine (QLD)12
    • Charlton (Vic)12
  • Hide Processing Facility in Murgon12
  • Value adding facilities12
    • Hemmant – Produces cooked deli smallgoods and convenience meals12
    • Wagga Wagga – produces case ready goods for retail12

For employment information go to  Teys Employment Information

Other historical and current meat processing facilities located in Australia can be viewed at;

Australian abattoirs inactive map



History of Rockhampton – Lakes Creek #7


  • The Lakes Creek abattoir was built.(Pg 261)15
    • Owned by an English company – Central Queensland Meat Export Company15
  • Operated as a cannery35
  • The plant was a dominent element in the regions economy40
    • at this time Lakes Creek was a company town40
    • meatworks built housing for its employees40


  • Lakes Creek processes three quarters of all the sheep processed by Queensland canneries (Pg 39)35
  • Facility was heavily in debt due to mainly expenses associated with the Jone patent process (Pg 39)35
    • authors note – I have not found what this patent was but assume it was to do with the technology and process of canning meat.


  • April. company was bankrupt35
  • Enforced closure of the facility due to the high price of cattle. (Pg 261)15
    • Remained idle until 187715


  • Facility was purchased by liquidators of Whitehead & Co. (Pg 261)15
    • Proposal was to move boiling downs works that Whitehead’s owned from Laurel Bank to Lakes Creek.15
    • Whitehead & Co also owned a meatworks at Ramornie (NSW, near Grafton)15
    • Whitehead & Co had a contract to supply 2M lb of preserved meats to the French Government but had been unable to obtain sufficent cattle in NSW to fill the contract15


  • Whitehead & co went into liquidation (Pg 261)15
    • closure was stated as not being the fault of the Lakes Creek operation itself15
  • A second Central QLD Meat Export Co. was formed and reopened the works (Pg 261)15


  • A freezing plant was added (Pg 261)15
  • September this year the chambers were full of frozen meat for the pioneering enterprise of exporting frozen product on the Fiado. The Ship was late and a fire went through the facility15
    • Opportunity had been robbed of Lakes Creek the honour of sending the first consignment to Britian15
      • In 1884 the first cargo of frozen meat was loaded from Bowen but a cyclone stranded the vessel, destroyed the product and the Bowen works.(Pg 262)15
      • The first frozen consignments from Australia didn’t occur until 1896.15
    • 200 employees were out of work15


  • Works resumed operations (Pg 261)15


  • Company went into liquidation (Pg 261)15
    • Due mainly to the expense of rebuilding and installing imported plant equipment15


  • Melbourne Syndicate took the facility over (Pg 261)15
    • Andrew Rowan, George Fairbairn and John Living15


  • Facility was purchased by a company formed in London (Pg 261)15


  • Tinned beef was a staple ration for war soldiers in WWI40
    • accompanied by hard tack biscuits40
    • Bully Beef – corruption of the French name “bouilli” meaning boiled or corned, referenced to small hard grains of salt used to preserve the meat40
  • Rockhampton produced various tinned labels – Herford, Devon (not the  pork based luncheon meat of that name) and Hamper40
    • including frozen sides meat for export and domestic butcher shops40
  • All parts of the animal were used40
    • what was not edible was processed into fertiliser and by-products40


  • Major flood year


  • Facility was idle due to the strain of the post war depression (Pg 261)15
    • meat market was very dull15
  • Facility then went to a syndicate headed by Sir William Angliss and FJ Walker (Pg 261)15
    • Operated under their control until 193415


  • Vesteys, British based but international organisation purchased Lakes Creek. (Pg 261)15
  • Facility began to prosper due to the Empire preference granted under the Ottawa Agreement (pg 261)15
    • The Imperial Preference was a series of bilateral agreements of limited tarriffs within the British Empire but higher on goods from the rest of the world. Principal was based on “home producers first, empire producers second, and foreign producers last”16
  • Improved plant, chilling, freezing and processing facilities were established over the coming years.(Pg 261)15
  • By products were saved and processed(Pg 261)15


  • Lakes Creek is paying 4/ per 100lb14
    • authors note – I think the / is shillings.
  • Northern Graziers are complaining of the high costs of freight and low price that Townsville abattoir is paying.14
    • They call for a public abattoir to be established and operated by the government in Townsville.1
      • To operated under the Abattoirs Bill that allowed government to acquire operate the Canon Hill facilities in Brisbane, enacted in 1934 (Pg 264)16


  • Teys formed as a partnership of 4 brothers to process meat for wholesaling and retailing13


  • Queensland herd was deminished due to demands of Australia feeding Allied forces in WWII40
  • Plans were being pushed to develope the channel country in the west and increase QLD’s beef-raising capacity40


  • Canned meat, known as bully beef, tinned corn meat was being boxed and sealed on hands-on assembly lines40
    • refer Year 1910 for more info.

packing tinned meats._edited-1Source ‘Bully for our Beef exports’ The Courier Mail 17.07.2011 Workers packing corned beef into cartons at Lakes Creek meatworks


  • February 3. Season commenced38
    • Ended December 1738
    • Flooding Between February 11 to 22 of Fitzroy river system38
    • Killing season 1954 constituted a record38
    • “Meat supplies were maintained but killing took place in the abattoir surrounded by water to a depth of 2 feet”41
  • Facility was undergoing extensive alterations and improvements to beef killing floor38
    • When completed the killing floor would be one of the most modern in Australia38
    • Handle greater throughput38
    • OH & S issues improved38
  • Pigs killed at the facility had also increased on 1953.38
  • Queensland cattle herds had recovered from dry conditions during most of 1951.38
    • Channel Country was underutilised due to lack of quick and commercial transport for cattle38
    • Cattle were grown out to large framed animals to withstand long walking distances38
      • These animals were not the preferred types for killing38
      • UL introduced – Baby Beef grade38
        • significantly effected  producers to turn off younger animals with lighter frame38


  • Daily processing capacity 987 head of cattle. (Pg 261)15


  • Major flood year


  • Employed 1,350 people18
  • Currently the second largest abattoir in Australia18
  • December. CMG lock out workers to force them to accept wage cuts, a six day production schedule and unlimited overtime22
    • Meat workers were forced back to work under a federal award that was $320 in wage cut for some workers22


  • January. Management refused to open works18
  • March 2. Protesters march through the CBD of Rockhampton in support of the 1350 workers who lost their jobs when the plant closed in mid January.24
    • AMIEU called for mass protest24
      • AMIEU demanding re-opening and reinstatement of the workers without massive cuts to pay and conditions.24
      • supported by the Construction, Mining & Energy , Forestry & Manufacturing workers  unions24
  • April. Lakes Creek abattoir is locked into a bitter dispute over pay and conditions between the now owner Consolidated Meat Group (Kerry Packer) and the Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Association.17
  • Facility will not be re-opening as early as planned17
  • May. Facility reopened but cut the workforce back to 70018
  • June. Plant was planned to be shut down entirely18
  • July 11. Workers begin a 5 day strike and re-establish a picket line outside the plant22
    • Strike is about production levels in the boning room and is part of a ongoing dispute of conditions of new work agreement22
  • July 30. Facility is offically closed.25
  • August. Negotiation had been occuring for an Enterprise bargain agreement for the last 8 months18
  • Consolidated Meat had come to agreement on Terms with Teys $1.2B joint venture to operate, Naracoote (SA), Beenleigh, Biloela and Innisfail (QLD)18
    • Deal to take effect in October18
    • Company had promised full severence pay but it would be at the lowest agreed rates18
    • Consolidated Meat had been awarded with $20M US Beef Quotas18
    • Governments Scheme based on 2001 rates, 40,000t known as the “Packer clause”18
      • Lakes Creek only produced 3,000t since June 200218
      • 2001 they had produced 49,000t18
      • quota flows into the merger entity18
      • Consolidated Meat will receive same quota in 2003 even though plant would be close.18
  • Abattoir is closed at this point in time 20/08/200219
    • It did open for short periods but had ongoing industrial disputes with protected industrial action begin taken19
    • Variety of owners of Lakes Creek plant had been unprofitable over the last decade19
  • ACCC investigate if merger of CMG and Teys would lead to reduced competition in terms of prices for cattle20
    • ACCC decide not to interven in proposed merger20
  • November. Jim Downey is appointed general manager at the plant21
    • Had been plant manager at Biloela21
    • Plant was still closed but undergoing major installations21
  • Drought was the single biggest factor now determining Lakes Creek operation21


  • July. After nearly 2 years of being closed Lakes Creek re-opens25
    • 160 workers will start when the first kill takes place25
    • boning room will then begin employee numbers to be more than 300 in total25
      • Intention is to start with small production, settle the plant and make sure problems can be solved23
      • $1M in pay cheques will be injected into the community each month from the start up.23
    • Facility will gradually build towards a kill capacity of 2,500 head and employ 1,000 people.25
  • 6 weeks prior to opening Teys had been finalising plans to re-open and purchasing stock25
  • Profit margins for the processing sector currently as high as $150 a head25
    • Fallen due to a stronger Aussie dollar and the falling price of Japanese full sets.25
  • Originally the plant had been planned to open later in the year but successful negotiations with the AMIEU helped to bring the opening forward to July25
  • Re-opening was said not to be influenced by the risk of losing US export licences25
  • Lakes Creek had applied and received $660,000 – Under Regional Partnership grant.26
    • Assisted the facility to go back into business26
    • Funds were used to upgrade computer system and plumbing26
    • 2 other meatworks in the region, and operating didn’t receive the grant26
    • Labor criticised the Government for providing taxpayers money to a commercial venture that could give an unfair advantage26


  • A shortage of skilled workers in Australia forces the company to look overseas29
    • People had been lost to the meatworks who have gone to the mining industry29
    • 60 vietnamese begin working at Lakes Creek29
    • Joining the 97 Brazilians already there29


  • CMG implemented industry award27
    • Required to cut it’s 1,300 workers wages by 30% to remain competitive in the tightening beef export market27
    • CMG attempted to draw up new rosters that included27
      • night time and Saturday shifts without penalty rates27
        • Exceeded 38 hour cap27
    • Union workers voted against the new proposal and would only return to work on genuine award conditions.27


  • December. Facility is considering job cuts over the next few weeks42
  • General Manager – Wasantha Mudannayake42
    • Reason for need to reduce jobs was livestock numbers had dropped due to overseas exports42
  • Biloela abattoir (QLD) – also owned and operated by Teys announced cutting of 40 foreign workers jobs42


  • February.Tom Macquire – General Manager of corporate affairs for Teys Bros28
  • Lakes reopened after being closed for a short period following heavy rain.28
  • Currently employing 760 people28
  • Between April 2010 to February 2012 – Teys Employ 480 humanitarian refugees29
    • “Without humanitarian and skilled migrants Teys would find it very hard to continue production at sustainable levels at some sites, particularly in Rockhampton and Biloela”29
  • Since 1982 approximately 31 abattoirs have closed across Queensland30
    • Slaughter capacity had increased by 50%30
    • QLD meat processors forefront in adopting improved practices and technologies30
  • Last 2-3 years30
    • competition has come from restockers and live cattle exporters30
    • Lower export beef prices as a result of higher Australian dollar30
    • Export abattoirs have reduced throughput and cut shifts and the number of killing days.30
  • Major flood year


  • July. Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) don’t oppose Teys Bros & Cargill Beef Australia Merger42
    • View that the proposed merger would be unlikely to substantially lesson competition in any of the markets examined42
      • ‘fat’ cattle ready for slaughter42
      • acquisition of ‘feeder’ cattle destined for feedlots42
      • supply of processed beef to retailers and wholesalers42
  • Teys CEO – Brad Teys – says been 30 years since he’s seen cattle supply so tight44
    • Producer’s aren’t selling cattle44
      • due to poor prices44
        • forced the company to reduce kill days44
      • Rocky is working on 3 days a week kill44
  • September. Teys forms partnership with Cargill37
  • Federal Government Carbon tax legislation36
    • Creates a 2 tier system with those who generate more than 25,000 t of carbon each year to pay more36
      • Basic  costs would be $4 per head for all facilities36
    • Lakes Creek exceeds 25,000 threshold – would be liable to pay higher permit costs36
      • extra $2 head, adding up to extra $7M across Teys/Cargil enterprise.36
    • Abattoirs are energy-intensive business, Trade exposed, with export constituting majority of total production, narrow profit margins36
      • Carbon tax would disadvantage Australian facilities36
    • Government indicated there would be assistance for to introduce measures to reduce emissions to assit processors36


  • Between April 2010 to February 2012 – Teys Employed 480 humanitarian refugees29
    • By February 306 were still actively employed29
  • December. AMIEU was investigating reports of working conditions of 100 workers who were part of the humanitarian program29


  • March. Lakes Creek facility receives a grant from the Federal Government $4.17 for operational upgrades.31
    • Governments Clean Technology Food and Foundaries Investment Program31
    • Will assist Teys to improve competitiveness, local economy and environment.31
  • Upgrades begin of the waste water treatment plant39
    • involve building a new waste water treatment lagoons and installing a biogas boiler and handling equipment39
    • Methane emitted during the waste water treatment will be used to generate steam used at the facility39
    • reduce the facilities coal consumption by 30%39
    • Upgrade set to be completed by June 201539
    • Cost $16M39
  • Lakes Creek facility receives the Ministers Enterprise Award as part of the QLD state government’s annual Multicultural Awards for cultutal diversity10
    • Award recognises work and and volunteering efforts that develop strong, culturally diverse communities and promote awareness of the benefits of the cultural diversity in the state.10
  • Teys employed 4,500 across Australia10
    • Simply not enough local workers to operate the plants10
    • International workers were needed to fill the spaces10
  • In Rockhampton the mining boom left plants wth an employment shortfall10
    • Lakes Creek employs more than 1,000 people of 29 different nationalities10
    • Employ a significant number of humanitarian refugees and supports induction and training practices that assist new workers10
    • partnerships with settlement service providers and other groups in the community to employ and assist the workers.10


  • June. Teys lobby government to repeal the Carbon tax11 Teys Media Release to repeal carbon tax
    • Manufacturers are closing down across the country due to unnecessary costs and charges on business” Tom Maguire Teys general manager of corporate affairs.11
    • countries Australia competes against do not have the burden of the carbon tax11
    • there is a direct link between the Carbon tax and competitiveness in the market place11
  • July. Rockhampton meatworks in the area employ more than 2,000 people1
    • Added more than $600M into the community1
  • Teys don’t support establishment of a live cattle export port at Port Alma (Rockhampton)1
  • Would be better for politicians to look at transport costs within Australia1.
    • currently costs $14M a year to rail product from Rockhampton and Biloela to the Port of Brisbane1
    • Development of a port at Rockhampton and Gladstone for shipment of containers would be better.1

unions 2012_edited-2Source The Bulletin. 01.12.2012

The Lakes Creek abattoir, Rockhampton. Queensland


  • Teys is inducted into QLD business leaders hall of fame.32
  • Teys currently process 32,000 cattle per week across Australia32
    • Generates a turnover of $2.5B annually32


  • February. Newly elected QLD Agriculture Minister – Bill Byrne said he “supported the live cattle trade under appropriate circumstances, but it would likely threaten the viability of the processors and value-adding of the local meat processing industry2
  • Cyclone Marcia hits Rockhampton 20/02/2015.3
    • 47,000 homes with no electricity3
    • Damage to buildings, bridges, destruction of crops and fencing.3
    • Flood levels were already high in Callide Valley and exacerbated by release of water from Callide Dam3
  • Lakes Creek abattoir suffers some minor damage to the roofing of the head office building3
  • Facility closed and wouldn’t likely operate for the rest of that week3
    • Plant and Equipment are OK3
    • most significant impact is no power, sewerage and water3
    • Until those services are restored the plant can’t operate3
    • Temporary amenities facilities had to be installed because of damage to existing ones9
  • Chilled and Frozen product was being maintained by generators3
  • Number of animals at the facility were getting water and fodder to ensure their welfare3
  • No kill occured on the day of the cyclone 20/02/2015 and wouldn’t for the rest of that week.4
  • Any cattle that were meant to be processed at Lakes Creek that week would be diverted to Biloela or Beenleigh.4
  • Cattle that had been at the plant at the time of the cyclone were returned to some producers at Teys cost5
    • Half were moved to other plants5
    • If the animals were stressed they would have lost weight and cut darker therefore Teys paid  a flat rate to the producers5
    • Temperatures climbed to 38 degrees with high humidity following the cyclone and some cattle suffered heat stress5
    • Heat stressed animals were not transported to care for their welfare5
  • Teys anticipate they would not be in the market for cattle all that week for Lakes Creek or Biloela4
  • Combination of their buying power not present in markets for the 3 abattoirs affected by the cyclone – Lakes Creek, Biloela and Rockhampton (JBS) accounted for 2,000 head per day4
  • Teys advise the plant will be closed longer than anticipated5
    • Many of the employees at the plant were overseas workers and not entitled to any government support5
    • Asbestos in exposed building material had slowed repairs at the site7
      • Asbestos was commonly used in older facilities7
      • Specialised workers wore plastic suits in 40 degree heat9
  • Facility likely to open 09/03/2015.6
  • Longreach cattle market sales had been cancelled due to the disruptions at the meatworks6
  • Markets still strong but there was congestion of cattle in the market6
  • QLD’s kill retracted to 75,275 head, down 7% as a direct consequence of the first weeks closure8
  • Where possible Teys was making forward payments to producers for cattle held up by the event9
  • Teys to restart the kill floor 18/03/2015 killing 1,000 head to increase to 1,6009

Brands_edited-1Source http://www.teysaust.com.au Product brand that are produced by Teys.

Sources Rockhampton – Lakes Creek #7

  1. ‘We’re not against live export but….’ QLD Country Life 17.07.2014
  2. ‘MP wary of live cattle trade at meatworks’ expense’ The Bulletin 21.02.2015
  3. ‘Disaster declaration expected today as Cyclone Marcia farm damage bill grows’ ABC Rural 24.02.2015
  4. ‘Power outages, structural damage from cyclone knock-out CQ plants’ Beef Central 23.02.2015
  5. ‘Asbestos closes JBS plant indefinitely’ 26.02.2015
  6. ‘Central QLD abattoirs closed for second week following Cyclone Marcia’ ABC Rural 27.02.2015
  7. ‘Rockhampton processing delays longer than expected, in wake of Cyclone Marcia’ Beef Central 27.02.2015
  8. ‘Weekly Kill: Cyclone impact reflected in lower tally’ Beef Central 03.03.2015
  9. ‘First Rocky Plant back to work Tomorrow’ Beef Central 17.03.2015
  10. ‘Lakes Creek plant earns QLD multi-cultural award’ Beef Central 13.09.2013
  11. ‘Meat Processor calls on new seante to stop games and repeal carbon tax’ Teys Media Release 03.06.2014
  12. Teys Website-facilities
  13. http://www.teysaust.com.au/about/
  14. ‘Public Abattoir Needed’ Courier-Mail 27.08.1938
  15. ‘Triumph in the Tropics’ 1959 Queensland Government
  16. Empire preference Ottawa Agreement
  17. ‘Lakes Creek abattoir re-opening plans delayed’ www.justfood.com 25.04.2002
  18. ‘Government rewards Packer for meatworks closure’ the Guardian 07.08.2002
  19. Parliament Hansard – Meat Industry Consultive structure and quota allocation 20.08.2002
  20. ACCC – Consolidated Meat Group and Teys Bros merger proposal
  21. ‘Drought biggest driver of Lakes Creek Opening’ QLD CL 14.11.2002
  22. ‘Lakes Creek Workers continue dispute’ www.wsws.org 13.07.2002
  23. ‘Lakes Creek abattoir to reopen’ ABC rural 13.07.2004
  24. ‘Thousands march to support meatworkers’ Green left 13.03.2002
  25. ‘Lakes Creek reopens Monday’ QLD CL 15.07.2004
  26. ‘Packer Firm given grant for abattoir’ SMH 19.02.2005
  27. ‘Union Avoidance Strategies in the meat processing/packing industry in Australia and the USA compared’ Jerrard, O’Leary
  28. ‘Lakes Creek has few lifelines’ the Bulletin 11.02.2010
  29. ‘Union investigates raw deal for refugees at abattoir’ The Bulletin 01.12.2012
  30. QLD Beef Industry Beef situation analysis 2010
  31. ‘Meatworks gets Federal Government grant’ Daily Mercury 05.03.2013
  32. 2014 Inductee – QLD business Leaders Hall of Fame
  33. History
  34. Great Barrier Reef – Environmental History, Ben Daley
  35. ‘To Feed a Nation – A history of Australian food science and technology ‘ Kieth Farrer. 2005
  36. ‘Carbon tax could cost $19M year for big three processors’ Brahman News. 2011
  37. ”Cargill & Teys merger good for the beef industry’ Meat Trade Daily. 22.05.2011
  38. ‘Lakes Creek meatworks had record year’ CQ Herald 06.01.1955
  39. ‘Methane for power at Teys Australia Lakes Creek meatworks’ The Bulletin 19.03.2014
  40. ‘Bully for our beef exports’ Courier Mail 17.07.2011
  41. AMIC Prime Cuts Newsletter 11.01.2011
  42. ‘Meatworks jobs may get the chop’ The Morning Bulletin 11.12.2009
  43. ACCC will not oppose Teys Bros & Cargill Beef Australia proposed merger
  44. ‘Cattle supply chokes’ ABC Rural 14.07.2011
  45. AUS-MEAT Accreditation Listing 29.12.2015


Queensland abattoirs listed – A-Z

These are the abattoirs currently listed on this blog, it is not complete of all actual operations at this point in time

Ayr abattoir (Nth QLD)

Beenleigh abattoir (Sth QLD).

Biboohra abattoir (Nth QLD)

Bowen abattoir (Nth QLD)

Caboolture Abattoir (QLD). Owned by Meramist Pty Ltd. A beef and horse processing facility.

Cairns abattoir ( Nth QLD)

Camooweal abattoir (Nth QLD)

Canon Vale (Nth QLD)

Cape River abattoir (Nth QLD)

Charleville abattoir – goat processor (Central QLD)

Clermont abattoir (Central QLD)

Cloncurry abattoir #1 (Central QLD)

Cloncurry #2. proposed abattoir (Central QLD)

Dinmore abattoir (Sth QLD)

El Arish (Nth QLD)

Giru abattoir (Nth QLD)

Innisfail abattoir (Nth QLD)

Kilcoy currently in operation

Mt Isa Owned by AMH, closed in 1986

Oakey abattoir (Sth QLD). Owned by Nippon. Currently operating.

Pentland (Cape River). Built originally prior to WWII, Eventually owned by AMH, closed 1989

Rockhampton – Lakes Creek Owned by Teys Australia, currently in operation.

Roma #2 (Proposed) Maronoa council seeking funding to conduct a feasibility study in 2014

Ross River Built in 1882, transformed from boiling down works to cannery to abattoir and meat processor. Finally owned by Smorgons closed 1995, Now demolished.

Surat (Wild game – kangaroo) Kangaroo processing facility, was in operation as at 2013

Tolga abattoir (QLD) 

Townsville Stuart  Owned by JBS, Currently in operation

Tully abattoir (Nth QLD)

Weipa Was in operation as at 2012







Located near Toowoomba, a large processing facility of mainly grain-fed beef, owned by NH Foods (Japanese origins). Currently processing up to 1300 animals per day. Has undergone significant upgrades to enable traceability for organic certification and assurances, with current work being carried out on methane gas collection. Problems in the past have been market fluctuations, unions and costs of production. Includes short history of early days of the Japanese/Australian meat trade markets and general QLD market conditions affecting processing

Other Names

  • Toowoomba abattoir
  • Nippon Meat Packers name changed to NH Foods Australia
  • Oakey abattoir
  • Oakey Beef Exports

Current Operation

  • Aus Meat Accreditation registration dated 29/12/2015 #558 – Oakey Beef Exports Pty Ltd.3
    • registered as a Beef, Offal export facility.3
  • Direct employment enquiries to www.nmpa.com.au


  • Located north west of Toowoomba on QLD Darling downs5

Australia Oakey


Source Hema Maps – Australia Truckies atlas.


  • Nippon Meat Packers1
    • Subsidiary of a Japanese Multinational1
    • Nippon meat packers incorporated 19781

products_edited-1Source Nippon Meat Packers Australia interactive beef products

This is a great diagram that is able to be clicked on in the Nippon website and illustrates where the various cuts of beef and offal are located in the animals bodies


  •  Nippon currently own 3 operating abattoirs in Australia,
  • Nippon owned Bowen (QLD) which they closed in 1997
  • Combined processing capacity 2,700 cattle day2.
    • also owns and operates a feedlot1  at Whyalla5 and
      • 3 beef farms1
        • At 2014 land in Texas QLD and Tasmania on King Island5
      • 3 tanneries1
        • Oakey Blue tan factory closed 20127
      • piggery1
        • Piggery assets sold off2
    • Processes predominently grain-fed cattle1
      • 100 to 300+ day5
      • Processing mainly British and European cross steers5
    • All plants are certified organic to process and slaughter.1
    • Sells product  under subsidiary company1
      • Beef Producers Australia Pty Ltd – Sells approximately 20% of Oakey product, marketed domestically1
      • Nippon Meat Packers Australia Ltd (Exporter)1
      • third of product is exported to Japan2
    • Sells products under labels1
      • Nippon1
      • Australian premium beef1
      • Wingham gold1
      • Borthwicks1
    • Vertically integrated supply chain that allows traceabilty from animal’s property of birth through to end user5
      • traceability includes details on animal, workers, defects, yield and volume data5
    • Fully integrated slaughtering, fabricating, chilling, freezing and rendering facility.5

picture_edited-1Source – ‘Productivity a bone of contention in abattoir strike’ ABC Rural. 01.05.2012.
Oakey abattoir facility

brands_edited-1brands #2_edited-1Source. http://www.nmpa.com.au
Various branded products sold from the Oakey facility

Historical and current meatworks, canneries and abattoirs located in Australia can be viewed at;

Australian abattoirs inactive map


History of Oakey meat processing facility

Authors Note – As Nippon Meat Packers, now NH Foods is Japanese owned firm I have included some information that is in relation to Australia/Japanese Beef  early trading. I don’t know how directly relevant it would have been to the Oakey abattoir.


  • Oakey Facility established.5


  • Japanese Beef Trade
    • January. Trial shipment of chilled 1500lbs (680kg) meat vacuum packed by Borthwicks from the Murarrie plant on the Brisbane river shipped to Yokohama, Japan (Pg 72).28
      • Product arrived 3 weeks later(Pg 72)
    • Requirements by Japanese were placed on frozen beef, required frozen temperatures at all points of the supply chain, even to small retail outlets (Pg72)
      • Logisitically this was extremely difficult as frozen meat had to be defrosted in advance for retail sale (Pg 72)
      • Chilled beef was much easier to handle (Pg 72)


  • Japanese Beef Trade
    • Market research conducted by Borthwicks identified consumer market preference (Pg73).28
      • 15% high quality meat
        • Significant opportunity for Australia to provide high quality meat
      • 40% middle class meat
      • 45% was low quality
        • Australian cattle were meeting this demand in canned meats, curries and low priced product
    • The First containerised vessels are used in Australia opening up new opportunities to send vaccum packed beef primals to Japan (Pg71).28
  • Growing feedlot industry was developing to cater for the Japanese trade (of which Japan interests had no equity) (Pg 81).28
  • Designated store project in Japan started to differentiate the Australian product at retail level (Pg 84).28
    • by 1971 Japan had 740 Australian meat designated stores.


  • Japanese Beef Trade
    • First full container of cryovac packaged chilled beef primals is shipped to Japan from the Borthwicks Brooklyn plant in Victoria (Pg 72).28
      • One of the first containers of any export commodity to Japan from Australia
      • Initial shipments of the packaged meat was in high quality wooden boxes, with each lid having a printed message about the contents
        • Card that placed inside the box, was protected from moisture damage, also provided a great deal of factual information about the product, it’s shelf life and that it had been chilled, not frozen.
        • Japanese retailers valued the box, some for fuel but also as reliable evidence to customers that this was a superior product
        • Wooden boxes later replaced by reinforced cardboard
        • The boxes and presentation made an everlasting impression and established reputation as Australian beef being of the best quality


  • Alot of work is done at Oakey with Lindgren packaging  to commercialise and develope meat vacuum packs (Pg 74).28
    • Australia world leader in this development


  • Japanese Beef Trade
    • First QLD shipments of beef to Japan occur from QLD (Pg 74).28


  • Oil Crisis occurs (Pg 74).28
    • Oil embargoes (restriction of supply) had occured in 1973 by members of OPEC (the organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries)
      • economic fallout proved catestrophic for the red meat industry
      • Oil dependent economies feared the effects of the oil restriction and closed their countries to imported beef to protect their currency and own livestock growers (Pg 81)
  • Japanese beef markets are closed (Pg 74).28
    • Australia had a large beef herd at the time
      • Australia and the US sold off their beef herds
      • Prices plummeted from 1974 prices of $350/hd to $40/hd in 1976
      • Australia had limited export markets and therefore sold into the US, producers there were already liquidating
        • US beef and mutton prices crashed, taking the industry with them
        • European beef mountain was created – EU stockpiled beef which they later sold into the early 1980’s furthur supressing prices world wide
  • Australian red meat exports fell by 43% in 1973/74 (Pg 81).28


  • Japanese beef markets re-open (Pg 74).28
    • Much of the investment in chilled technology and production systems had been lost
    • Frozen sector sales to Japan recovered better but chilled took much longer
  • Feedlots that had previously catered to Japanese markets had collapsed with big losses. This inhibited investment into the future due to mistrust of the stability of the market.(Pg 81).28
    • rebuilding of the trade was dependent on Japanese importers investing in the feedlots so that they shared some of the risk


  • Australian National cattle herd reached an all time high of 33.4M head (Pg 81).28


  • Australian slaughter peaks at 10.8M head (Pg 81).28
  • Most abattoirs, both domestic and export are running at capacity (Pg 81).28
    • not uncommon for cheaper cuts to be rendered rather than sold as meat
  • Company of Nippon Meat Packers Australia Pty Ltd is established.29



  • Australian cattle herd has fallen by 11M head (Pg 82).28
  • Australian Sheep herd dropped from 174M in 1970 to 135M in 1985 (Pg 82).28
  • Many abattoirs and meatworks couldn’t source enough cattle to remain viable (Pg 82).28
  • Japanese beef market.28
    • Prior to 1960’s Japan’s main source of animal protein was whale meat and the mainstay of school lunch program (Pg 84)
      • Whale meat accounted for 25% of Japanese meat consumption (Pg 84)
      • Japan enabled a number of sub quota’s for red meat industry into which Australia was able to provide product (Pg 84)
        • supplied various sectors and agencies
          • School lunch program
          • Hotal quota
          • airline quota


  • August. ‘Meat substitution scandal’ occurs in Australia.(Pg 82).28
    • Pet food grade meats, donkey, kanagroo and others were found in shipments to the US. Meat was being transported from northern parts of Australia to southern Australia, reboxed and repackaged and exported.28
    • Leads to Royal commission in the Australian Meat Industry.28
    • Profoundly damages Australia’s meat export reputation.28
    • leads to the evolution of AUS-MEAT.28
      • costs of regulation closed many export abattoirs.28
      • The US significantly step up standards of requirements for meat into the US under the USDA.28


  • Nippon purchase Oakey abattoir1
    • Nippon began in Japan in 1942, establishing the Tokushima meat processing factory, producing ham and sausages (Pg 86).28
      • when supplies of pork were scarce, would substitute other proteins.28
        • rabbit, whale.28
        • By 1960 mutton was found to be a good substitute, which it began to source from Australia.28
        • Company changed its name to Nippon meat packers in 1963 and entered into business with US Swift 1969.28
          • Swift already had connections in Australian meat processing at that time.28
        • Purchase of Oakey was in direct response to Japanese beef market liberalisation.28

1987 purchased Oakey_edited-1

Oakey abattoir. Source www.nipponham.co.jp

  • Japan beef markets are liberalised(Pg 82).28
    • Lead to removal of import quotas and reduction in import tariffs.28
    • Gave companies in Japan opportunity and incentive to expand into meat importation, some who had been restricted prior to the liberalisation (Pg 85).28
    • Previously tenders had protected certain trading houses.28
    • Significant investment had occured in fully integrated supply chains into Japan to realise market potential and commitment to the Japanese market irrespective of market conditions.28Japanese export markets 001

Source World on a Plate –  A history of meat processing in Australia. Stephen Martyn. (Pg 83)

  • US industry analysts thought the US would be the major benefactor of Japanese markets opening up (Pg 85).28
    • US underestimated Australia as it (Australia) had previously only supplied mainly meat from grassfed stock.28
    • Assumed Australia would be confined to commodity meat supplies rather than the premium markets.28
    • Authors note; Significant investment occurred in Australian feedlots at this time to enable grainfed custom feeding of animals suited to specific Japanese meat markets.28
  • Nippon purchase Whyalla feedlot near Texas, NSW.67
    • already a 3,000 head feedlot.67
      • extensively developed latter in 1990.67


  • Nippon also purchase the AMH plants at.28
    • Mackay (QLD) and
    • Bowen (QLD).
      • closed 1996 as part of capacity rationalisation.28
    • Operated boning room through subsidiary Namoi Valley Beef
      • Gunnedah abattoir (NSW)
        • Council operated, service kill facility
        • Closed 1997
      • Mudgee abattoir (NSW)
      • At the time was operated by council as a service kill facility,
        • Had massive debt and went into receivership.28
        • Later purchased by Flectcher’s in 2003, still in operation
    • Nippon is sensitive to it’s position as a foreign owned, non-Anglo company in Australia (Pg 86).28
      • keeps a low profile.28
      • Makes most asset purchases as joint ventures.28



  • Nippon develop the Whyalla feedlot – Oakeys Holdings.28
    • Nippon website says they purchased this site in 1988.29

1988 whyalla feedlot_edited-1

Whyalla Feedlot. Source www.nipponham.co.jp

  • Whyalla feedlot is developed to a unprecedented scale.67
    • previously been a 3,000 head feedlot.67
    • Now scaled to 50,000 head.67
      • Later extended to 56,000 head.67
    • largest Australian single feedlot site.67
      • led the way in ‘US scale commercial feedlot operations.67
    • Australia’s largest feedmilling infrastructure.67
      • 8  18 x 36 inch roller mills.67
      • feeding 750 tonnes  mostly barley based mix a day.67
      • 5 delivery trucks – 4 in use at any one time.67
      • yard can store 100,000t grain.67
      • silos can store 26,000t.67
      • most hay produced on farm.67
      • corn is contracted silage.67
    • Site is licencsed to 75,000 head.67
    • Holds 100% Nippon owned cattle.67
      • 50% straight Angus.67
    • Cattle sourced from QLD, NSW, Victoria, and Central Australia.67
    • Typically induct 3,000 head a week.67
      • similar numbers dispatched.67
      • animals pre-vaccinated before induction.67
      • animals monitored individually.67
    • Yards.67
      • every pen has shade.67
        • unique slattered shadecolth system.67
    • Initially feeding was focused on Japanese markets.67
      • mid to longfed progam out to 300 days.67
        • heavily reliant on marbling-oriented British breeds
      • Now feeds large variety.67
      • most cattle are 120 – 150 day.67
      • Change in feeding length changed annual turnover.67
        • 2014 calendar year turned out 132,000 head.67
        • 2003 turned out 93,000.67
    • Vertical integration of abattoir /feedlots. Not focused soley on Japanase markets and has been versatile in supply to international and domestic markets.67
  • ABARES report – Foreign Investment and Australian Agriculture

8. ABARES Nov 2011_edited-1

Proportion of cattle slaughtered by ownership of abattoirs 1990
Source ABARES foreign ownership 2011 Pg 31


  • 77 Beef export Abattoirs are in operation in Australia at this time.54
    • 27 have some level of foreign ownership.54
    • Ownership dominated by Japan, UK and the US.54


  • Acquire Rochel feedlot in NSW (3000 head) to assist research into cattle performance.28


  • Nippon purchase (Pg 86).28 Wingham (NSW)
    • Wingham is a major beef exports facility.28
    • Tomen sells it’s interest to Nippon.28
      • Major shareholder in Anvic Meat Exports Pty Ltd.28


  • Nippon has invested $200M in abattoirs and feedlots over the previous decade(Pg 86).28
    • 3rd Largest meat processor in Australia.28
    • Exporting to 34 countries.28

NH foods Oakey export_edited-1

NH Foods holdings. Source www.nh-foods.com.au – General Information accessed 21/12/2015


  • Spent $2M in marketing new Barley beef brand to Japanese customers1
  • Nominal capacity estimated at 50,000 head as per 50 weeks3


  • Nippon establish leather wet blue tannery near abattoir to process Oakey hides and from other facilities, including competitors7
    • Prior to GFC hides are worth $110 each7


  • July.Jondaryan Shire Council approve the project 08/07/2003.31
  • Started upgrades to plant and facilities, included new boning room, new slaughter room and a new traceability and control system1
    • Upgrade takes until about 20061
    • Slaughter capacity of approximately 1200 cattle per day1
    • Create 700 new jobs.31
      • Upgrade proposing to lift capacity to 2,000 head a day.31
      • Make Oakey the 2nd largest abattoir in QLD.31
      • Upgrades to take place over 5 years.31
  • $46M expansion using Marel meat equipment4,
    • New boning system includes 4 flowlines to take beef quarters to 96 individual workstations where beef is boned and trimmed before being vacuum packed for further processing in Japan4
    • Old system was meat was cut on tables now it is hanging in front of worker and is more efficent and easier4
    • created 500 new jobs4
    • make Oakey the 4th or 5th largest beef abattoir in Australia and 3rd largest in QLD4
    • New system expected to have effective life of 20 years with maintenance.4
    • key point of Marel system was the traceability, particularly important in latter years when BSE closed market access for US  to Japan and allowed access by Nippon to those markets4
  • “Marel traceability/accountability system …proved to be a magnificant investment, despite its detractors at the time” Pat Gleeson, Oakey general manager. 10.03.2014


  • January. Construction offically begins at the abattoir for the upgrades.32
    • Workforce will lift from 500 to 1,100 workers.32
    • processing and export earnings capacity is to double.32
    • First stage of the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.32
  • Expansion of the meatworks will be ready when the industry turns around.32
  • “So even though times are tough at the moment, now is the right time to build rather than waiting until good times and then rushing around trying to build, so it’s a confidence thing at the moment” Jim Vick, Oakey Managing Director.32
  • September. Oakey Ergon Energy power substation causes black out 5.5 hrs, Caused shut down of the abattoir for that time.33
    • Third power failure in 3 weeks.33
    • New $7M power facility will be built.33
  • December. Abattoir extenstions $46M.34
    • Offically opened 03.12.2004.34
    • Facility will use NLIS, seen as controversial at the time.34
      • system guarantees quality, consistency and traceability.34
      • Ensures importers product is high-quality and disease free.34
    • Oakey expansion will mean 500 new jobs over the next 3 years
      • increase of capacity to 2,000 head a day by 2007.34


  • Nippon form a strategic allience with OBE Beef – Australia’s largest supplier of certified organic meat1
    • Plan to export meat to UK and Central Europe under ‘Borthwicks’ organic brand1
  • Strong demand for export product key factor in gains in net profit after tax gains of 60%, with 2005/06 NPAT $21.5M from earnings of $875M (All Nippon meat Packers financial performance combined)1
  • Nippon upgrade hide tanning facility extensively to world-class quality – facility now has capacity to process 20,000 hides a week.7
  • Significant regions of drought across QLD.

QLD Drought 2003_2005_edited-1

Queensland drought situation 2003 – 2005 www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au


  • Sales revenue increased but net loss occured for year (Financial year ending June) $23.2M1
    • Large increase in administration costs of $30M1
    • Increase in wages due to increased employment1
  • Nippon Meat Packers Australia produce 5.9% of Australia’s red meat production in 2006.54
    • 3 abattoirs in operation.54


  • Australian subsidiary earnings struggled in the first half of 2006/2007 due to higher cattle prices , low prices in Japan and high Australian dollar, earnings recovered in early part of 20071
  • Aim to increase profitability by processing more grain fed cattle1
  • Costs for raw materials increased for higher grain and oil prices1
  • May. Oakey shire water plant implement $6M upgrades to connect and treat bore water supplied to businesses in Oakey.35
    • Oakey residents, Oakey abattoir, Army Aviation centre, Jondaryan township.35
  • June. Abattoir is able to deliver system that is able to trace each piece of meat back to property of birth.36
    • system provides vital defect and yield feedback.36
  • Processing 1,000 cattle per shift.36
    • Mostly from the feedlot in Texas.36


  • March.Queensland rail (QR) deem the rail siding west of the works requires upgrading and is currently unsafe.6
    • QR agree with Oakey management to run cattle train to Dalby, abattoir would pay for additional freight to Oakey.6
      • Allows Oakey to access and bid for cattle on Northern and Western district properties6
  • Sales revenue fallen by average of 1.2% in real terms, in contrast industry revenue estimated to have grown at marginal rates in real terms1
  • Nippon launches a large scale reform of Australian business to improve earnings in 2007/20081
    • Involved cutting costs in cattle feeding, processing plants and leather business1
    • potentially reorganising plants1
    • possible closure of piggery1
    • revenue affected by high Australian dollar and weak demand for beef in Japan1
  • Withdraws from restaurant operations and Hog production and sells idle farmland2
  • August. Sulphuric acid leak occurs from a tank, spilling 2,000 lt.37
    • no injuries occur.37
  • November. Nearly all 730 staff are stood down due to a shortage of cattle.38
    • One day, 11/11/2008, staff not paid.38
    • Management not alarmed.38
      • Couldn’t get enough stock for full weeks kill.38
      • Time of year was traditionally slower as was crop harvest period.38
  • Global finanical crisis is also causing a reduction in export sales.38
    • Korea and Russia slowed significantly.38
    • Difficult selling to those overseas countries where the money was difficult to obtain.38
    • Managing Director Howard Halter said Oakey was a lot better positioned to handle current climate than processors in Brisbane and North QLD.38


  • Plans to double processing capacity to 2,000 cattle per day by moving to a two shift system1
    • Employing 750 people1
  • Plant certified for halal production and now exports to halal markets2
    • mostly Middle Eastern markets.30
  • Sluggish growth and weak export demand due to global economic downturn2
  • December. Queensland Rail (QR) informs Oakey they will not stop at Dalby, only unloading the cattle at ‘End of the line’ – Brisbane6
    • Oakey abattoir would have to truck cattle back from Brisbane 200km, from a tick zone and up the range to Oakey6
    • Dalby to Oakey is 50km6
    • Brisbane to Oakey is 200km6
  • Comparative road frieght to rail from Quilpie to Oakey6
    • Road $1.45/km 805km equals $1,167.25 /deck or $51,359 for 44 deck consignment6
    • Rail $1.03 /km 805km equals $829.15 /deck or $36,482.6o for 44 deck consignment6
      • Difference $14,876.40 over 44 decks6
      • QR were now making it uncompetitive if extra freight is incurred from Brisbane6
      • Situation of competitiveness would worsen if the abattoir can’t access channel country cattle.6


Queensland drought situation 2007 – 2009 www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au


  • August. 2 employees  sacked for workplace bullying.39
    • Incident occured in July.39
    • Became a Fair Workplace Investigation.39
    • Worker bullied had supported speeding up the chain to 157 beasts, others wanted slowed to 155 beasts
  • October. Worker who claimed workplace bully and led to 3 people being sacked is now centre of a workplace bully allegation himself.40

IBIS Jun 2010_edited-1

Major Companies in the Australian Red meat processing industry

Source IBIS world June 2010


  • January. Devastating floods across Central and southern QLD and large parts of NSW and Victoria.48
    • affected slaughter numbers to abattoirs.48
  • March. Pittsworth abattoir -Located 30km south of Oakey closes
    • Regional abattoir that did private kills for farmers and supplied local butchers.41
      • employed 35 people.41
      • Lack of available stock and persistent rain were the reasons for closure.41
  • June. 3 workers  in July 2010 incident reinstated.42
    • ‘Booing, mooing and barking” was part of the workplace’s culture.42
    • Video footage used as evidence.42
    • Oakey abattoir ordered to reinstate and pay undiclosed sum for renumeration to one man, another man had withdrawn unfair dismissal claim.42
  • July.National slaughter rates decline 5%.43
    • Australian currency pressures.43
      • A$ is now above US108c.43
      • economic news out of US could send currency even higher.43
      • higher A$ would cripple Australia’s already limited price competitiveness for beef in international markets.43
    • QLD which does approximately half of Australia’s processing capacity.43
      • Down 8% from the previous week.43
      • lowest kill recorded in QLD in July for past decade.43
      • Down 21% on same period last year.43
      • Significant number of QLD plants only killing 3-4 days.43
    • listless export beef demand.43
    • Meat processing and export is low-margin business due to.43
      • Import duties.43
        • Indonesia 9%.43
        • Korea 40%.43
        • Japan 38%.43
      • New AQIS charges on meat inspection would add millions to processor costs.43
    • Was currently a big build up of meat in cold stores due to difficulty in selling into sluggish markets, Japan and the US.43
  • August. Top chefs tour the abattoir as part of a south east QLD tour.44
  • Cattle are in short supply, 2008 & 2009 had been drought periods.45
    • with seasonal pressure lifting producers are retaining females for breeding.45
    • Period of drought that lasted 10 to 15 years.45
    • “We’re paying for the numbers of store cattle that were killed in the droughts up until 3 years ago” Kurt Wockner, Oakey Livestock manager.45
  • Expected diversion of northern cattle displaced by the Indonesia live export ban won’t come to the processors until April 2012.45
  • September. Oakey abattoir hold an open day for active suppliers.46
    • Inspection tour of the plant.46
    • Boning room – features four production lines.46
      • provides individual animal traceability from the animal to the vacuum -packed primals in cartons.46
      • Oakey processing 1,100 per day single shift.46
  • Change in production emphasis from primarily being dedicated grainfed plant to much broader range of cattle.46
    • grassfed export steers.46
    • grain and grassfed yearlings.46
    • bulls.46
    • cows and.46
    • high quality EU grain and grassfed.46
  • A$ now us103c.47
  • Some QLD southern plants operated only 6 shifts for the week down from 10.47
  • General shortage of killable cattle across Eastern Australia.47
    • AACo lifted 4,000 from Brunette downs and 2,000 from Anthony’s Lagoon to processors.47
    • Weights for cattle are expected to be heavier later in the spring and early summer 20-30kg above normal.47
  • November. ABARES foreign ownership 2011 report is released

7. ABARES Nov 2011_edited-1

Red Meat throughput Australian abattoirs, Foreign and Australian owned 2011 Source ABARES foreign ownership 2011 Pg 29


  • January. Nippon close down ‘New Wave Leather wet blue tannery’  located at Oakey site.7
    • High Australian dollar and increases in direct processing costs forced tannery to cease operations
    • facility had capacity to process 20,000 hides per week7
    • Employed 38 full time and 15 casual staff7
    • was leading blue tannery supplying value-added blued hides to the international market7
    • Nippon deny had tried to sell business outright and may reconsider re-opening.7
    • Hides from the Oakey abattoir would now be salted and exported raw to China, where labour and other input costs and regulatory pressures are low.7
    • Hides currently worth $457
      • Prior to GFC $1107
      • 2009 $10 and less7
  • Japan export market has stagnated and Nippon shift focus to emerging markets in Russia and the Middle East2
  • Strength of Australian dollar is declining and increased competition from US will make breaking into new markets more difficult2
    • also competition from Brazil increasing2
  • Oakey commence season after traditional Christmas/New year season in 2nd week of January.48
    • on a reduced kill.48
  • ABARES release a report into foreign ownership in the red meat processing sector See Nov 2011.49
    • report ‘underwhelming’ adding nothing to current industry knowledge.49
  • Australian dollar has continued to climb US106c.50
  • Export demand North Asia and Russia remains subdued.50
    • current state of export market ‘woful’.50
    • some strengthening in the grinding meat market.50
  • Beef stocks held by processors are starting to decline.50
  • Many QLD processors were forced to close due to rain,.50
    • record 24 hour and 48 hour rainfalls in parts of QLD.50
  • Oakey plan to close for 1 day 03/02/2012.50
  • April.
  • AMIEU give notice 19/04/2012 of 2 hour protected industrial action to occur on 27/04/20128
    • AMIEU gave notice 27/04/2012 to Oakey management work stoppage to occur 27/04/2012 ending Friday 04/05/20128
      • originally planned a 2 hour protective action for Friday only, “The company responded to that by progressively locking out workers indefinitely, workers responded with this week-long protected industrial action” Brian Crawford, AMIEU QLD branch secretary10
    • AMIEU advised  that further 24 hour stoppage to occur 04/05/2012, work to resume Tuesday 08/05/2012 as Monday was a public holiday8
    • 600 workers on strike, not to be paid during action9
    • Management response  cease processing Friday 27/04/2012.8
    • AMIEU refused to allow members to bone out Thursday 26/04/2012.8
      • management conducted process themselves8
      • May 7 article claims 400 carcases still hanging in chillers11
  • Oakey and Management been in negotiations since May to finalise new Enterprise bargaining Agreement8
    • Oakey require productivity offsets required for plant to remain competitive with domestic and internation markets, current unfavourable trading conditions particularly in grain-fed business could not be sustained.8
    • Members of AMIEU not happy about productivity push, which includes increasing the speed of the boning room chain9
    • Workers want compulsory Saturday work to be wiped from the contract10
    • AMIEU want 4% wage increase, but won’t accept staff work faster12
      • management want to increase chain speed in boning room by 15 minutes12
      • other places are working faster and they have agreements with AMIEU that are signed and certified12
  • Workforce would prolong strike if agreement was not reached10
  • The shutdown would hurt local businesses, retail had not been great in the region.51
  • May. Toowoomba’s Labour day celebrations, abattoir workers among meatworkers marching with signs that read “Scab labour will not be tolerated”, non-unionised salary workers would be bought in.11
  • AMIEU – Main issue is the chain speed in the boning room and complusory Saturday work.52
    • Workers walked off 27/04/2012.52
    • Scheduled to resume 03/05/2012.52
      • Now they won’t go back until 04/05/2012 (Saturday?).52
  • May 4. Protected action scheduled to finish today.53
    • AMIEU has not been told when operations can resume.53
  • AMIEU say will not return to work at earliest 08/05/2012 unless an agreement is reached.55
  • 10 day strike led by AMIEU ended midnight 9th May. Management had continued to lock workers out with the AMIEU waiting to be advised of how long it would continue13
  • May 11th AMIEU Brian Crawford currently in talks with Oakey management Pat Gleeson.14
  • Management continues to lock staff out, even though strike ended, will not open until an agreement is reached.56
  • May 20, Oakey management release statement “..the decision of the workers to continue to strike is regrettable, but the company intends to continue to  negotiate in good faith to bring about an acceptable outcome that addresses the fundamental issue of productivity with its workforce”16
  • May 21. Workers return to work, compromise on wage increase and chain speed reached.17
    • 4% pay increase.58
  • Members of Construction forestry Mining and Energy union from Acland Coal mine have encouraged and supported AMIEU workers since start of strike14
  • Local businessmen say protracted action at the abattoir has hurt local retail trading as they rely on everyday people to walk into stores.15
  • Businesses have felt the impact from the strike and will continue to for couple weeks after work restarts.57
  • EBA negotiations had been occurring for 18 months11

Industrial dispute Oakey. 2012_edited-1

Industrial Dispute Calendar – Oakey Beef Exports 2012.

  • current high Australian dollar is particularly damaging to manufacturers and exporters alike.8
  • Boning room supervisor Bob Costello wins prestigious manufacturing industry-wide award.59
    • Manufacturing Student of the year.59
    • Nominated by the employer.59
    • Diploma of meat processing course.59
    • Bob Costello made major contribution to improving plant efficiency.59
      • saved thousands of dollars worth in daily savings to the facility.59
      • based on preliminary work on the carcase while hot to improve yield and reduce waste.59
      • Worked in the industry for 28 years, working his way through different levels of processing.59
  • November. Major southeast QLD processor say they have ample cattle supply in coming weeks to meet current requirements and international demand.62
    • Seasonal conditions are deteriorating.62
    • Large areas have had bushfires.62
  • Superstorm – Hurricane Sandy hit the US east coast and affected some imports.62
    • damage to US processing facilities and infrastructure was significant.62
    • Port of Philiadelphia (largest port of entry for beef) is open.62

 Profit Margins_edited-1Nippon Meat Packers Revenue Source IBIS world 2010,2013


Nippon Meat Packers Profit Earnings Source IBIS world 2010,2013


  • March. AACo conduct service kills for it’s brand products of 1824 and Waygu beef are being conducted at Oakey and Toowoomba (QLD) JBS Beef city.63
    • AACo don’t harvest and retain all of the material from the animal.63
      • processor (Not AAC0)keeps red & white offals, blood products, meat and bonemeal and tallow.63
      • AACo are in direct competition with major processors JBS, Teys/Cargill and Nippon in brand products.63
      • AACo began building their abattoir near Darwin.63 Livingstone abattoir (NT)
  • September. Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS) registration process has begun at Oakey plant with information for suppliers to follow to establish PCAS certified grassfed supply chain18
    • cost of audit was likely to be point of resistance early in PCAS development18
  • Companies industry related revenue estimated to have contracted by 1.7% due to Australian chilled beef prices remaining flat over 2008/09 and 2009/102
    • weak export demand due to global economic downturn2
  • Oakey plant had killed same number of cattle in 2013 as it did for entire period of 2012 season.19
    • Daily kill 1200-1300 head are 30% above last year at the same time19
    • Kill weights are reflected by the drought.19
      • Average carcase weights back 20-25kg compared to 2012, due to lighter average weight of steers and significantly higher proportion of female slaughter19
    • In general Eastern states kill tally recorded by the National Livestock reporting services up 15% on same week last year19
  • October. Queensland abattoirs being charged up to $27,000 a month through a religious levy on meat exports in Jakarta to raise money for Islamic schools and mosques20
    • Scandel has stopped QLD halal meat exports to Indonesia, abattoir operators boycott expensive Halal certifiers endorsed by the Indonesian council of Ulama (MUI)20
    • certifiers must donate a share of their revenue to mosques and Islamic schools.20
    • Australian Halal food services (AHFS)was charging quarter of other certified endorser – was suspended by MUI for engaging in unfair competition that could weaken halal certification20
    • DAFF have no control over approvals for religious certifiers.20
    • Oakey relied on AHFS for certification and were now unable to sell Halal meat in Indonesia21
      • Indonesia was an important market for Oakey product21


  • Nippon Meat Packers Pty Ltd changes name to NH Foods.29

Logo NH oakey exports_edited-1

NH Foods Australia Logo Source  www.nh-foods.com.au

  • January. Lack of rain and failure of the northern monsoon has left many areas critically short of feed in western and southern QLD.64
    • Dry areas extending across northern NSW.64
    • critical decision time for drought impacted producers.64
    • One processor states its is the worst start-of-season outlook in 35 years of business.64
    • first quarter of 2014 looking to be period of extreme high cattle turnoff.64
    • Some large processors not booking prices only kill slots.64
      • due to uncertainty over cattle supply.64
      • high placement rate in feedlots late in 2013.64
      • catch up of grain-fed kills due to seasonal break.64
  • February. Forecast of very difficult next 12 months due to supply of animals if drought breaking rains received.24
    • Herds rebuild and producers retain cattle24
    • Plans are to maximise numbers of cattle on feed which will help to insulate from predicted shortages in 3 months.24
  • currently employing 700 people24
  • upgraded trucking and spelling facility at abattoir that can hold 1000 head on feed in seperate area from plant operations24
  • Installation of Covered high rate Anaerobic (COHRAL) lagoon to extract green energy biogas from waster water streams to replace millions of dollars worth of natural gas currently consumed22
    • Uses concentrated anaerobic bacteria to digest 70% of organic matter of high chemical oxygen demand to produce effluent of far higher quality than typical open lagoons22
      • collect 6000 cubic metres of methane each day, calculated to produce a saving of about 50,000 gigajoules of natural gas used in boilers each year23
      • methane will produce 1 mega watt electricity each day23
    • floating membrane will draw gas off as soon as produced and held in specific bladder tanks for use until required.23
      • methane is cooled before use, moisture and sulphides removed before being used in boilers.23

CST wastewater_edited-1Illustration of process of gas recovery of an Anaerobic lagoon
Source CST wastewater solutions

  • reduce plants carbon footprint22
  • reduce waste water22
    • noval distribution system along bottom of lagoon will allow water retention period lower from 25 days to 15.23
  • Plant expects to repay cost of construction within 5 years22
    • $5M – with return on investment in 4 years23
      • $4M in capital works alone
    • reduce annual gas bill by 42%23
  • after 5 years continue to deliver benefits and profitability virtually to perpetuity22
  • gaurd against future price rises in cost of energy and imposts such as carbon tax22
    • energy is a significant and rising component of operating, Diesel, electricity and gas23
  • Project is entirely self-funded and did not attract support under former Federal government carbon abatement grants23
  • Project research funding partially from Australian Meat Processor Corporation & MLA donar company as a Plant initiated Project26
    • If implemented the process can provide a number of direct and indirect economic, social and environmental benefits to abattoirs across Australia26
    • Funding is through private investment, matching governement dollars, and producer levies are used.26

Beef central 28.08.2014_edited-1Oakey abattoir Source Beef Central 28.08.2014

  • project should be finished by late 201523
  • Is the first to use covered lagoons, other installations use reactor tanks of cement or steel23
  • project may help to handle future expansion of plant23
    • vision that will process 1500 head per day using 6 day operation within 3 years23
      • depends on national herd recovery after the drought ends23
  • other plants at Mackay and Wingham will be considered for installation of COHRAL23
  • plant needs to have diligence of staff to ensure chemicals don’t affect bacterial action23
  • currently 750 people employed at Oakey22
  • March. Sod turning ceremony to begin biogas development.65
    • Oakey is sending 75% of its beef production to export.65
    • of the 1,000-1,300 head that go through each shift 500 come from the companies own feedlot.65
  • April Frozen beef shipments to Russia are temporarily suspended from 07/04/2014.81
    • A similar suspension occurred 31/03/2014 for chilled beef.81
    • Temporary suspension of beef offal imports occurred 27/01/2014.81
  • Oakey exports meat to Russia, along with another 29 Australian establishements.81
  • Russia placed new requirements of detection of Trenbolone.81
    • Australia placed additional requirements on its testing requirements.81
    • Russia detected Trenbolone 21/03/2014.81
    • Australian authorities held an immediate meeting with Russian counterparts.81
      • providing details of testing and invited Russia to inspect Australian meat establishments.81
      • Trenbolone is not produced from cattle treated with HGP’s.81
      • Russia has a zero tolerance, most countries have a maximum residue limit.81


  • Russia may consider Asia, Chinese port and Indian buffalo meat imports to replace decrease is supplies from the US, European union and Australia.81
  • Australia has been a traditional beef exporter to Russia since the 1970’s.81
    • To July 2012 – June 2013 exported 24,000 tonnes
    • To July 2013 – February 2014 20,000t
    • Trade is worth more than $170M a year
    • Russia is a declining market for Australian beef exports
    • Calendar year to date Russia taken only 1,221t beef
    • Full year exports 2010 and 2011 topped 60,000 tonnes


  • June. Currently killing to capacity on a single shift with overtime25
    • Looking to extend production hours in the coming year to service markets25
  • Currently killing 1,200 head per day25
    • 2014 has been a massive year for production25
    • record kill year to 12 months to March25
    • Female component of grasskill component has been close to double normal level in response to drought in supply area.25
      • Mt Isa, Julia Creek and Northern NSW25
    • Normally female kill of grassfed is 35-40% – has been 60-70%25
  • Big cattle numbers have impacted on prices to producers25
  • Oakey marketers able to keep product moving due mature and developing markets25
    • Big 3 – USA, Korea and Japan25
    • China has also been big markets25
  • Nippon Meats Whyalla feedlot account for approximately half of plant’s kill.25
    • Authors note – 600 / day on 5 day kill, 50 weeks operation = 150,000 head25
  • Oakey plant buy up to 95% of cattle on weight basis25
  • July. Oakey abattoir is 2nd only to the Australian Defence force when it comes to employment in the area.27
  • Currently employs 750 people27
    • 3 main catagories of employment27
      1. Administration & Management27
        • Production supervisors, export, shipping, quality assurance, livestock purchasing, export sales, marketing, micro-biology, accounting & environmental management, human resources, laboratory technicians & information technology27
      2. Production and Maintenance27
        • Meat processing roles – salughter, boning, slicing, packing, labour and cleaning.27
      3. Engineering27
    • Lifestyle benefits in meat processing.27
      • Most work start between 5-6.30am – end 2-3pm27
    • Processing facility operates year round except closure over Christmas and New Year27
  • Enterprise bargaining agreement was supported by employees27
    • In principle agreement was reached of EBA 16/07/2014.78
      • Explanatory document was given to employees, which they voted in a secret ballot within 10 days.78
  • $20M investment in infrastructure planned over the next 3 years27
  • Whyalla Beef  feedlot – has 50,000 head capacity supplies half to two thirds of cattle processed at Oakey.27
  • Oakey is currently processing 1,200 head per day for domestic and international markets.27
  • December. Biogas equipment is in the final stages of installation.66
    • 6,000 cubic metre capacity polyester flexible storage ‘balloon’ collects biogas from nearby covered lagoon.66

ABC rural 10.04.2015_edited-1

Oakey abattoir biogas ‘sphere’ Source  ABC Rural 10.04.2015

MLA case study. covered lagoon_edited-1

Covered Anaerobic lagoon that captures the biogas. Source MLA case study – May 2015


  • January. MLA forecast.80
    • Australian cattle herd has gone from 35 year high (2013) to 20 year low (2015).80
    • Australian cattle herd slip to 26.8M head by June 2015.80
      • by 2016 expected decline to 26.5M head.80
      • by 2020 27.9M head.80
    • Adult cattle slaughter expected to slump 15% year on year.80
      • 2015 to 7.8M head.80
      • 2020 expected 7.9M slaughter.80
    • Long term Female average in 2014 52%.80
      • Normally female kill percentage 47%.80
      • Only in years 1977, 1998 & 2003 has female kill been above 50%.80
    • Beef exports record levels in 2014 1.39M tonnes shipped weight.80
      • Expected to drop 20% to 1.3M tonnes in 2015.80
  • February. Whyalla Beef Feedlot is ranked as 3rd largest in Australia according to Beef Central, one-time operating capacity.67
    • One-time operating capacity 56,000 head.67
    • Turnoff in 2014, 178,000 head.67
    • See Years 1988 & 1990 for details of holding capabilities
  • March. Cyclone Marcia cross the Capricornia Coast some plants were damaged.70
    • Supply is exceeding capacity in QLD at this point.70

Cyclone Marcia Feb 2015_edited-1

Impact of Cyclone Marcia February 2015. www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au

  • Oakey has re-activated Saturday boning shifts to keep up with high demand and rates of kill.70
  • April. Nippon have invested $100M in Oakey facility since taking ownership in 1987.68
    • Biogas will produce 183.3 gigajoules of energy per day.68
      • represents 40% of the current useage of natural gas.68
    • Annual production will lift from 298,000 to more than 560,000 head.68
    • Staff levels will rise from current 750 to 1,400.68
  • Increase in production proved the need to revitalise the western rail lines to towns such as Quilpie, Charleville, Morven & Roma.68
    • removing cattle trucks from the roads.68
      • easing up supply chain process.68
  • Funding that was applied for under the Gillard government was scrapped under Abbott in 2013.68
    • Project was built without any taxpayer funding.68
  • July. The following charts are from a submission by the Australian government Department of Agriculture to the Senate rural and regional affairs and transport references committee inquiry into Market consolidation and the red meat processing sector.

abattoir capacities dept ag sub consolidation_edited-1

Capacity of major beef abattoirs in QLD. Pg 15

T2 Throughput state beef_edited-1

Share of throughput by state for beef in 2014. Pg 16

T4 processing companies market share_edited-1

Major Processing companies by market share May 2015. Pg 16

M4 direct cattle movements NLIS QLD_edited-1

Cattle Movements to abattoirs. Pg 25

F12 hourly labour costs food manufacturing_edited-1

Hourly labour costs for food manufacturing industry Pg 30

  •  Oakey abattoir wants to access rail services to help increase through-put to 12,000 head a week.72
    • Rail is a critical part of strategy to double weekly kill.72
    • Current employees’s 730 people could be increased.
    • Rail line passes 300m from Oakey abattoir site.72
      • QLD rules don’t permit Oakey to receive cattle by train because there is no rail siding in place
    • Oakey are in advanced negotiations with QLD government to allow rail access
    • Oakey could utilise the rail for outgoing containers
      • currently delivers 100 containers of beef a week to Port of Brisbane
        • Many are underweight due to road limit restrictions
        • Many delivered by road could be moved by rail
  • QLD government currently subsidise Aurizon to provide rail services to rural and regional areas.72
    • restrictions had been placed on producers if they wanted to send cattle via rail they had to book the entire train – 800 hd.72
    • Last 4-5 years cattle rail service has virtually stopped.72
      • 12 years ago Quilpie would see 9 trains loaded a week.72
        • sending 100,000 head annually.72
      • Past 3 years only 5 trains have left Quilpie.72
        • 3 left in 2015.72
      • ‘ghost train’ Aurizon is funded to provide 27 cattle train services a year on the Western rail line
        • Only 7 ran last finanical year (2014/15)
        • Only 2 abattoirs are contracted to receive cattle from the rail JBS Dinmore (QLD) and Teys Beenleigh (QLD)
  • Lack of rail access  has seen large number of cattle drawn south towards abattoirs in Southern Australia.74
    • If rail enables cheaper freight those cattle could be coming back to QLD.74
  • New airport at Wellcamp has opened – 16km from Oakey facility.74
    • enable air-freight access to export customers, Asia & Middle East.74
      • United Arab Emirates is largest destination of air freight from Oakey.74
    • Increased opportunity to market shelf-ready portion controlled product.74
      • Particularly China – large potential growth area
  • Industrial relations progress.74
    • Old agreement meant 7.6hr shifts / 5 days a week with significant penalties for operating outside those restrictions.74
      • Could only operate the plant for 38 hours a week.74
    • New EBA 9.5hr shifts in the boning room and flexibility to move to 7 day operation.74
      • would allow plant capacity to increase to 1,650 per day over 7 days.74
      • length of employment of A grade Slaughterman in Australia was 25 years.74
  • Food safety and shelf life.74
    •  Americans sell their product 60-70 day shelf life.74
    • Australia sells it’s product 140 days.74
  • October. 10 mayors from Southern QLD form a mayoral group to act as a united lobby group for their region.76
  • represent 25% land area of QLD, quarter of QLD cattle and 75% of grain and crop production area.76
    • support the Oakey abattoir push for rail transport improvements.76
    • $2M in State and Federal funding is required to fund new rails sidings.76
      • Federal government feel that private investors should fund the improvements themselves.76
  • Oakey currently process 6,400 head a week.76
    • Announced plans to expand further but rely on the plant’s ability to source greater numbers of cattle.76
    • plans to increase to 11,500 head a week.76
      • add to processor competition in the area.76
    • Only 2 abattoirs are currently contracted to be supplied cattle on the Western line.76. JBS Dinmore (QLD) and Teys Beenleigh (QLD)
      • Oakey is to be added, starting January 2016.76
        • Contractually Oakey can recieve cattle but as they have no rail siding this is not physically possible.76
      • Oakey has to commit to transporting a minimum of 25,000 head per annum by year three.76
      • equates to 28 services per annum.76
        • increasing to 40,000 head after 3 years.76
  • December. ATO publishes tax data for agribusiness corporates.77
    • Data interpretation – Companies do not pay compay tax on revenue (total income) they pay on profits after paying all expenses, including wages, capital replacement, supplier costs and other operating expenses.77
    • Income tax information is for 2013/14.77
  • NH Foods produced Total Income $845,824.273.77
    • Nil taxable income and nil tax payable.77
  •  AACo have animals processed at Eastern abattoirs as service kill.63
  • See year 2013.63
  • Gross processing costs had increased in the 6 months to September 2015.63
    • $1.13 risen to $1.21/kg, 7% increase year on year HCW.63



QLD Drought Situation 2013 – 2015 www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au

Sources – Oakey – Toowoomba. Nippon

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  2. ‘Meat Processing in Australia’ IBIS world. September 2013
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  7. ‘Nippon’s hides processing plant closes it doors’ Beef Central 19.03.2012
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  10. ‘Strike action into 2nd week’ The Chronicle. 05.05.2012
  11. ‘Marchers send message’ Gympie Times. 07.05.2012
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  20. ‘Religious levy costs QLD abattoirs thousands each month’ The Courier mail. 20.10.2013
  21. ‘QLD abattoirs hit with thousands in Halal certification fees’ Food Magazine. 21.10.2013
  22. ‘Oakey abattoir’s world first’ QLD Country life. 07.03.2014
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  29. NH Foods website & history
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  33. ‘Oakey ire at power cut’ Caboolture News 11.09.2004
  34. ‘Beattie has a bone to pick with detractors’ Caboolture News 04.12.2004
  35. ‘Construction begins on Oakey water plant’ Caboolture News 17.05.2007
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  39. ‘Don’t say boo’ Caboolture News 14.08.2010
  40. ‘Victim faces claims of bullying’ Caboolture News 08.10.2010
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  42. ‘Booing meatworkers reinstated’ Caboolture News 28.06.2011
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  44. ‘Top chefs tour abattoir’ Caboolture News 05.08.2011
  45. ‘Where are all the cattle’ Beef Central 16.08.2011
  46. ‘Open day showcases Oakey facility’ Beef Central 31.08.2011
  47. ‘Kill rates edge upwards, despite flat meat demand’ Beef Central 12.09.2011
  48. ‘Slow season opening for processors’ Beef Central 11.01.2012
  49. ‘ABARES foreign owner processing assessment underwhelming’ Beef Central 20.01.2012
  50. ‘Weather disruptions unlikely to stimulate sustained price lift’ Beef Central 31.01.2012
  51. ‘Meatworkers stage walkout’ ABC News 30.04.2012
  52. ‘Striking meatworkers’ demand reasonable’ ABC News 01.05.2012
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  54. ABARES foreign ownership 2011
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  56. ‘Meatworkers to decide on new enterprise deal’ ABC News 14.05.2012
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  60. ‘Award win a huge honour’ Caboolture News 24.05.2012
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  73. Dept Ag. Submission to Market consolidation and the red meat processing sector July 2015
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  75. ‘Agriculturally rich councils join to form lobby group’ Caboolture News 19.10.2015
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  82. AUS-MEAT Accreditation Listing 29.12.2015
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