POULTRY processor Ingham’s says it does not expect the temporary closure of its Melbourne processing plant due to a coronavirus outbreak among staff will hurt company profits or supplies to customers. Managing director Jim Leighton said Ingham’s had contingency plans in place for its 11 meat plants around Australia for several months in case they were caught up in any virus outbreak.
Closing the Thomastown site was a “proactive step on our part – we are well prepared to manage through this disruption”, Mr Leighton said.
The company shut down a further processing plant in Melbourne’s north when five workers tested positive for COVID-19 and all employees were sent home to self-quarantine. The Victorian Department of Health has been working with the company to ensure all necessary protocols were being followed at the plant.
“Ingham’s has worked diligently throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to maintain the highest standards of health and safety for our people, while maintaining flexibility to ensure we service our customers and consumers through this period of uncertainty. It is imperative we continue to do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of our people, communities and to assist in controlling the spread of coronavirus,” Mr Leighton said.
The company’s other sites in Australia, and three New Zealand processing plants, remain operating and unaffected. Ingham’s was working with its customers to minimise any supply chain disruptions and ensure its products remained available to consumers Australia-wide.
Mr Leighton said the Thomastown closure was not expected to materially impact the business’ financial results for 2020-21. Ingham’s has more than 300 poultry hatcheries, broiler farms, primary and further meat processing plants, rendering sites and stockfeed mills across Australia and New Zealand.
In May, the company reported the coronavirus emergency had presented unprecedented challenges requiring swift realignment of the company’s supply chain and operations to manage social distancing protocols, including temporarily suspending production of some value-added products.
Out of home markets for poultry product were hit by the fall in restaurant and tourism food service business associated with COVID-19 lockdowns, but Ingham’s had responded by implementing cost control measures including closely managing its inventory and working capital and halting new staff recruiting plans.
Mr Leighton said a strong balance sheet and good access to liquidity and funding, plus significant headroom available on its borrowing covenants, were working in the company’s favour.
First appeared on farmonline.com.au