12 Dec 2017

Alliance Group working overtime to keep up with stock influx

8:53 pm on 12 December 2017

New Zealand's largest sheep meat processor, Alliance Group, is working overtime to keep up with an influx of sheep and lambs due to farmers off loading stock in preparation for a long dry summer.

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Photo: RNZ Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Many regions are dealing with low soil moisture levels, slow pasture growth rates, and a lack of rain.

Alliance's General Manager Livestock and Shareholder Services, Heather Stacy, said there could be some delays because many farmers were wanting the same space at the same time.

All of the Alliance plants were flat out with all of the plants and chains in operation and working extended hours.

"Normally that wouldn't happen until the New Year and so we've really come on stream a couple of weeks early.

"We've seen volumes for our sheep and lambs up about 15 percent compared to the same time last year, same with cattle numbers they've really increased as well."

It was driven by the dry weather and potential for drought, which had resulted in farmers preparing for feed shortages.

"Farmers are concerned about their feed supply running into summer now, and just wanting to de-stock as quickly as they can."

Ms Stacy said farmers were worried about processing space, but Alliance was prioritising its Platinum and Gold shareholders.

"We need to prioritise for shareholders who invest in their co-operative, that's why farmers choose to be a member of the co-operative - to have access to space at challenging times like this."

She said prices shouldn't drop due to the extra animals being processed, because demand was strong from both China and the UK.

"Our demand for our UK chilled product is up 15 percent year on year so there is very strong demand.

"With Easter being earlier next year the demand has come in a bit earlier than Easter traditionally is, so from that perspective it's assisted with the flow of lamb to support that trade."

She said farmers should be talking to their stock agents in advance if they were planning on processing stock.

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