Newspaper Article 1971 – $6-million Whakatu meat works expansion Part Two

$6-million Whakatu meat works expansion

New processes were needed for American market

Development of the American market for lamb led the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Meat Company to install facilities to process lamb past the traditional carcase stage.

First there are the ageing and conditioning rooms which were needed to provide lamb suitable for the Meat Export Development Company, the sole marketing company for New Zealand lamb in the United States and Canada.

Then there are the freezing and cutting rooms to process lamb into cuts required by customers.

Beating toughness

When lamb was first marketed by Devco in the United States, housewives complained that the meat was tough.

Devco found this was caused by housewives putting lamb straight into the oven still frozen.

This toughness was overcome by introducing the ageing and conditioning process which promises a degree of tenderness acceptable to Devco.

To achieve this there were various methods stipulated by the Meat Industry Research Institute in New Zealand.

Single method

Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Meat Company are using the one temperature ageing and conditioning method.

In this process lamb carcases are held at 13 degrees Celsius for about 45 hours.

There are five ageing and conditioning rooms, each capable of conditioning 1000 carcases.

Cold shock

Meat which is frozen before rigor mortis has set in suffers what is known as cold shock.

Keeping the temperature at a certain level until rigor mortis has set in stops this cold shock – the cause of the meat being tough when cooked straight from the frozen condition.

From the ageing and conditioning rooms the carcases are moved by conveyor to one of four blast-freezer rooms where they are frozen overnight at minus temperatures.

Each room has a freezing capacity of 1000 carcases.

Cutting packing

Adjoining the blast-freezer rooms is the cutting room where frozen carcases are broken down into the cuts required by customers and packed into cartons.

During the cutting and packing operations all meat is transported by conveyors between inspection and processing points.

When carcases arrive in the lamb cutting room they are trimmed and then cut into sides.

From there they are cut up into whatever the requirements of customers are.

Up to 2000 lamb carcases can be processed in the cutting area each day.

Most of the 25 people working in this department will be women.

These three processes are on the top floor of the new building.

Glycol plant

Temperature control throughout the building is maintained by a glycol plant on this floor.

The boning and cutting rooms for beef and lamb are kept at a constant 10 degrees celsius.

This plant also controls the temperature in the ageing and conditioning rooms and humidity and air movement.

Fluorescent lighting is used in both the boning and cutting rooms. Lights are strategically placed over working areas where close knife work and inspection is required.

Hold top positions at Whakatu

Most of the senior executive of the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Meat Company have worked their way from junior positions in the company.

A prime example of this is the managing-director, Mr D. R. Little, who started with the company 48 years ago as office boy.

In 1938 he was made accountant, in 1944 manager and last year managing-director.

The elected leader of the shareholders is a retired farmer, Mr R. S. Ellingham.

He joined the board of directors in 1947 and has been chairman since 1962.

The manager, Mr I. D. Cameron, joined the company as office junior in 1943 when he left school.

He has been an assistant works manager and was secretary before being promoted to his present position last year.

Mr E. B. Jenkinson, works manager in charge of production, joined the company in 1962 as assistant works manager. He was promoted to his present position earlier this year.

Mr R. A. Wharton, works manager in charge of labour and by-products, joined the company in 1964 as a trainee. He is a B.Sc. graduate and was appointed assistant works manager in 1967, and to his present position earlier this year. He is on leave at the moment.

Photo caption – New lamb-cutting room

The lamb cutting room at the Whakatu works which will come into operation at the beginning of the season next month.

In the foreground are scales for checking the weight of the lamb cuts and at the right rear is a machine which seals the wrapping round cuts of lamb.

As can be seen, stainless steel has been used extensively.

Photo captions –

Mr D. R. Little …managing-director

Mr R. S. Ellingham …board chairman

Mr I. D. Cameron …manager

Mr E. B. Jenkinson …works manager

Suppliers of Gas and Welding Equipment to the H.B. Farmers’ Meat Co. Ltd
Congratulate them on their continued Expansion and Development.
Leyland St., Onekawa
The Industry Behind Industry

has a link with JAPANESE SKILL
in the choice of
Akebono Automatic STRAPPING machines
for the Packaging needs of the greatly extended
Whakatu Freezing Works
of the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Meat Co. Ltd
More than 90 Akebonos now used in our Meat, Fish, Food and Newspaper Industries.
Sole N.Z. Agents:
546-139                    77-199                          872-128               65-689                73-542

An impressive line-up of vertical shell and tube condensers outside the main engine room – supplied and installed by E.H.S.
We take this opportunity of extending to the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Meat Co., our congratulations on their capital expansions scheme for which we have supplied and installed the complete refrigeration and air conditioning requirement.

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Business / Organisation

The Hawke's Bay Farmers' Meat Company Ltd, Whakatu Works

Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

24 September 1971


The Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


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