Processing

IMT opens production plant and expands into US

04-Dec-2013 - By Jenny Eagle+
IMT builds a production plant in Brisbane
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IMT Food Services is opening a production plant on Friday as it plans to expand into Korea, Russia, Japan and the US.

The company, based in Queensland, Australia, is a wholesale packaging supplier for beef, pork and lamb raw meat products.

Darren Walsh, managing director, IMT Food Services told FoodProductionDaily, it was opening a new facility because the old one was too small and didn’t give them the ability to access key export markets due to its age and condition.

Expanding overseas

Our new facility will open up markets in Korea, Russia, Japan and US,” he said.

The packaging technology is not unique to us. But it is unusual for a processing plant to have so many different ways of packaging. Our IT is also flexible enough to change process techniques for a customer.

Processing meat will be faster and more efficient for us because we utilize a batch process rather than straight line process.”

Gala launch

The 2,500m2 custom-built packaging facility is located in Brisbane and was conceived, built and developed in under 12 months.

To celebrate the launch of the facility, IMFTS will host a gala event on December 6 at the opening gates; industry giants as well as clients and staff will attend as the new operations are unveiled and share trends from Australia’s meat industry.

Walsh claims the plant will ‘streamline an otherwise cost prohibitive process’ by giving IMTFS the ability to not only process the full scope of meat varieties, but to triple its production.

With the potential to produce in excess of 200 tonnes per week, the factory will house up to 90 employees, all of whom will relocate from the company’s original facility at Murrarie.

Multiple market sectors

The production area is broken up into three large zones and inside these zones are workstations. Each workstation can be measured for efficiency, output and labor utilization.

We do a lot of third party work, where we produce other companies brands on their behalf. However there is a lot of product that goes in to Woolworths, Metcash and other supermarkets that is produced here,” added Walsh.

Our business has multiple market sectors to reduce our business risk. We have seen continued growth over the last few years in mining, exports, distributors, manufacturing and our online business which started this year.

IMT was founded in 1973 as a wholesaling business that later evolved into a group of companies, including an abattoir, trading division and Food Services division.

Company acquisition

In February 2010, it completed a management buyout of the Food Services division, a move that marked the beginning of a new era for the business.

Under new ownership, IMTFS has been distributing to key export markets, nationally and throughout Queensland.

The 2010 management buyout was fairly standard, the owners wished to retire but were not comfortable in remaining shareholders,” said Walsh.

In 2008, they approached me to put together a buyout proposal. I put the team together of four shareholders, Garry Rodwell, Donald Rankin, Paul Thompson and myself and we negotiated a buyout agreement.

The buyout was vendor financed and we negotiated conditions of the buyout and we ended up paying the business off in just over two years.

Meat consumer habits

Today’s meat consumer has become far more discerning and our customers want flexibility and options to meet increasingly diverse market needs - there are more end consumers wanting higher quality product.

Presentation is playing a greater role in peoples’ purchasing decision. Buyers are more aware of what the market offers, product and price comparisons are very easy to do these days. Consumers look for more alternative options as well as the usual staples.”

Talking about the expansion he added: “It’s a big move, but it’s one we knew we had to take if the business was going to continue growing and meeting the demands of the domestic and export meat market.”

“Processing will be much faster and more efficient, but most importantly our ability to tailor client needs will be far greater.”

Related topics: Processing, Meat & Fish, Processing Technology, US, Asia Pacific