THE Midfield Group’s construction of a $15 million cold store in Warrnambool would remove 6000 trucks from the road each year.
The massive cut in truck traffic will be achieved by reducing the volume of meat product Midfield presently trucks to a cold store in Laverton.
The group’s managing director Colin McKenna said such a huge reduction in truck traffic was great news for other road users.
The new cold store is part of a $20 million expansion announced yesterday by Midfield.
Premier Denis Napthine said up to 70 trucks a week travelled from Midfield to the Laverton cold store because the company presently did not have enough capacity at Warrnambool to store the two million head of livestock it processed annually.
“The construction of the cold store will ensure products are stored locally on site and transported by rail, direct to the port in Melbourne for export, providing quicker turnaround for the growing Asian and Middle East markets,” Dr Napthine said.
Midfield production manager Dean McKenna said the new cold store, to be built on the present Midfield Meat Transport site on Scott Street, adjacent to the company’s Meat Barn supermarket, would be one of the most modern in Australia.
It would have a 4200-pallet capacity and be highly automated, requiring only three people to operate it, and no forklifts would be needed to shift the pallets, cutting occupational health and safety risks, he said.
It would require only one-tenth the power of a traditional cold store and reduce the incidence of handling damage to product.
The new cold store would help overcome the storage “bottleneck” the company had encountered in recent times, Dean McKenna said.
Colin McKenna also used yesterday’s announcement of the company’s $20 million expansion to call for government support to encourage more people to farm in the south-west.
He said more innovation was needed to encourage young people to take on dairying, or beef or sheep production. The federal government also needed to set up a scheme that would also help existing farmers expand their farms.
“There does not seem to be that avenue. We do not have the soldier settlement schemes that brought young people through.”
Mr McKenna said Midfield was prepared to work with local education institutions such as Deakin University and the South West Institute of TAFE to encourage more young people to take on dairying as a career.
An increase in dairy production would provide more surplus dairy animals to enable Midfield to increase its production. “But we need government assistance through on these points,” Mr McKenna said.