Oamaru Meats’ export licence to China has been reinstated.

Director Richard Thorp told the Oamaru Mail on Tuesday the meat processing company, which has been shut down since mid-September, was “now in the throes of getting the plant back operating”.

“It will take a number of weeks to get staff engaged.”

The plant, owned by China’s BX Foods, would start up again on January 6, Mr Thorp said.

It was seeking 120 to 130 staff.

In September Mr Thorp said “around 140″ staff were stood down after the company’s access to send beef into China was suspended.

Managers had worked with New Zealand and Chinese authorities to resolve the issue.

The suspension was due to beef fat packaging that was not up to standard, he said.

publicised that there were some cartons of fat that weren’t in specification.”

A few staff had been called back in for some repacking work from time to time since the closure and many had found alternative employment at the nearby Alliance Group’s Pukeuri meat works.

“We’re really pleased a good amount of staff were able to find other work,” Mr Thorp said.

In November Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker said Alliance had taken on about 40 Oamaru Meats staff.

They would now have to decide whether to stay with their new employers or return to Oamaru Meats.

“We’re realists around the whole thing.

“There’s been disruption for a lot of stakeholders.”

Mr Thorp said the very small team that had remained at Oamaru Meats had taken advantage of the shut-down to “review a lot of documents, processes and procedures”.

The fault that caused the suspension would not happen again, he said.

“On the return of our staff we’ll be taking a significant part of the day to induct them back into the process and be really clear to them about our expectations.”

Livestock that had been scheduled to be processed by Oamaru Meats had been rerouted to other abattoirs during the closure.

Mr Thorp hoped farmers would resume sending their animals to Oamaru Meats.

“We have some fantastic relationships with our farmer suppliers. We’ve been communicating with them.

“We’ve been still attending farmer field days and A& P shows.

“We will continue to promote our business to farm suppliers.

“I’m sure over time we’ll just continue to strengthen that relationship with them.”

  • Additional reporting Jacob McSweeny

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