Weddel’s World 1974 – June

Weddel’s World

KAITI – in conjunction Gisborne Sheepfarmers Freezing Co. Ltd.



Weddel First Again

This impressive Weddel display in London represents another big advance by the company in the chilled beef trade.

It marks the first arrival in Britain by container of New Zealand chilled beef and lamb cuts.

Westfield plant produced the meat shown here.

The widening of container services is bringing increased interest for chilled beef. It is a new and exciting trade. It is a trade calling for meticulous preparation to ensure that the choicest cuts reach their destination in prime condition. The customer demands nothing less.

W. & R. Fletcher (NZ) Ltd., are well able to keep pace with world demand. They can meet buyers’ requirements for either a shrink (Cryovac) or vacuum (multivac) product.

A prestige carton developed to carry chilled meats, has been received with acclaim in all markets for its strength and attractiveness.

Japan has recently been the main outlet for New Zealand chilled beef, with the U.K. next on the list.

With exciting developments just around the corner, it is reasonable to assume that in the near future a variety of new markets awaits the New Zealand producer. He must be ready to take immediate advantage of these opportunities.

W. & R. Fletcher (NZ) Ltd., intend to be in that position.


Great emphasis has been placed in recent years on diversification of lamb from the U.K. market. A target of 23 per cent at the outset of this season did not seem to be unduly high but the decline of the Greek market and the absence of bulk sales to the Middle East and other outports, have now made this target more difficult to achieve.

One of the main aims of diversification was to maintain demand and steady prices by limiting the intake of lamb in the U.K. This has failed. U.K. lamb sales this year have been disappointing, not only from the price angle but from that of volume.

Leading distributors have reported diminishing sales but it is hoped that a vigorous promotion campaign being operated by the NZ. Meat Producers Board would produce beneficial results.

Weddel’s associates, the great Dewhurst retail chain, is co-operating with the Board in this venture and has spent thousands of pounds in its efforts to boost New Zealand lamb sales. Particular emphasis is being placed on creating in the minds of the British housewives a real awareness of the value for money of our lamb.

Changes In Pacific Trading

W. & R. Fletcher (NZ) Ltd, in conjunction with their Westfield Freezing Co. Ltd, have had valued trading associations with the many Pacific Islands for some 50 years.

Canned meats and barrelled pickled beef once formed the background of this business but, with changing conditions and easier access, frozen and chilled meats are now taking over. Regular business is also done in such products as tallow, stockfoods and fertilisers.

Mr D. Frederickson of our Head Office will shortly be visiting these areas to meet our various clients and to keep abreast of the changing patterns of trade there.

Successful Meat Board Field Day

Many aspects of the industry were displayed at a field day held in April at Feilding by the N.Z. Meat Producers Board.

These included grading displays, packaging concepts, carcase evaluation by Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ veterinarians, containerisation displays and exhibitions of conditioned and aged lambs and squat posture lambs for North America.

Mr B.J. Bishop, meat export manager of W. & R. Fletcher (NZ) Ltd., spoke of the problems involved in the efficient selling of mutton on world markets.

He said it was now more necessary than ever to be able to give the customer exactly what he wanted.

Buyers were becoming more discriminating and more specification conscious and the producer who set himself out to provide consumer requirements, would benefit accordingly.

Mr Bishop said ewe mutton marketing was a most interesting exercise.

While Japan was New Zealand’s main buyer, a variety of other buyers were now emerging from South America and the Middle East; the latter in particular, with changing living habits, showing promise as a valuable new market to us.

This field day was a great success. We congratulate the N.Z. Meat Producers Board and their staff who did so much to make this inaugural function a memorable one and we trust this will be the forerunner of many more such events.


Mr W. O’Reilly, chairman of the Meat Importers’ Council of America, speaking at the Meat Exporters’ Council during a recent goodwill visit to New Zealand. From left to right are Messrs J.B. Walton, general secretary MEC, W. O’Reilly, P.T. Norman, MEC chairman (Thos. Borthwick & Sons Ltd.,), W.F. Leonard, deputy chairman (Producer Meats Ltd.). In front, from left, M. Hinchliff (W. & R. Fletcher (NZ) Ltd.), P.N. Mansill (Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd.).

Squat Posture Lamb Trials Arouse Close Interest

Squat posture lambs is a term with which many people may not yet be familiar.

Guidelines laid down by the N.Z. Meat Producers Board and the Meat Export Development Company (Medco) for the sale of lambs to North America include the requirements of conditioning and ageing of all carcases.

A costly process, it involves the use of considerable cooling floor and chilling areas which many Works find difficult to provide at the height of the season.

As an alternative, the squat posture lamb has emerged and although this has not yet been put to the test as a large-scale marketing exercise, trials have proved very successful.

A number of freezing companies have produced this type of lamb this season in an effort to provide the Meat Export Development Company with sufficient lambs to continue their North American development.

Briefly, squat posture lamb production involves the use of a specially designed hook which, when positioned, suspends the carcase from the pelvic bone thereby uniformly stretching all muscles of the carcase which restrains these muscles from cold shortening (rigor mortis). Lambs can then be stored in the usual manner but subject to rigid temperature control and time cycle and thus conditioning can be effected during storage.

The outcome of this venture will be awaited with great interest by the Industry.

Photo caption – Examining New Zealand prize-winning show lambs on May 29 at the Birmingham Meat Market are Lord Vestey (furthest from camera), Mr E. Evans (judge) and, on his right, Mr D. Lloyd, of Weddel & Co. The lambs were prepared by Tomoana Freezing Works.

An artist’s impression of the new complex to be built alongside the existing buildings at the Patea Freezing Works. The aerial photo below taken by Whites Aviation Limited, shows the works as they are at present.


The multi-million dollar extensions at the Patea Freezing Works will bring into use many features not previously seen in freezing works in New Zealand. There will even be a computer recording the grade and weight of every carcase that comes off the new mutton floor.

But that’s only half the story. The other half is the shot in the arm that the new project has given Patea.

The works have long been the lifeblood of the town and the expansion now under way has engendered renewed confidence in the district.

Boosting this initially is the influx of men engaged in the building industry, together with specialists in the installation of modern freezing works equipment.

The new extensions are expected to be in operation by 1976. This will bring a demand for more staff at the works to cope with its greater killing capacity.

Community leaders are predicting benefits right down the line. They are talking in terms of more housing. They see increased security and optimism.

The announcement that Fletchers were to build a new complex at Patea was acclaimed by the mayor, Mr R.G. Hughson, as the “greatest industrial news ever for Patea and district.”

“The construction of this most modern meat-processing plant on our doorstep gives Patea an asset of which to be proud.

“I am sure we will see more house building take place in Patea and a greater keeness [keenness] in the business community.”

Mr J. Parsons, chairman of the Patea County Council, has referred to the far-reaching benefits resulting from the new extensions.

He said the investment of such magnitude would be most reassuring to farmers who were in turn investing capital to increase the productivity of their farms.

“This project and future operations will enhance job opportunities, many highly skilled, in the district and will assist greatly in securing Patea as a very viable community.”

The major part of the rebuilding programme at Patea is the construction of a completely new and somewhat revolutionary mutton floor designed to keep pace with modern slaughtering techniques, and especially the stringent hygiene standards demanded by countries that import the meat killed.

The new floor will be a far cry from that which it will replace. As in the old floor there will be three operating chains, but the whole structure will be 440 feet long, twice the length of the original. Greater length allows more room to accommodate certain additional procedures, and accompanying equipment, which have become mandatory with new Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries regulations.

The dressing floor itself will incorporate many features not previously seen in freezing works in New Zealand.

The most outstanding of these features will be the raised platform on which the men will work, effectively making the whole dressing operation an “above floor level” one. The raised platform, which will suspend from the ceiling, is desirable not only to meet hygienic requirements, but local building regulations concerning fire and earthquake egress as well.

In 1975, it becomes mandatory for the meat inspection authorities to inspect the glands of the head, and scalping of each carcase was introduced so that this could be done.

Because the standard height of the existing chain at Patea, and in fact most other works, is only six feet, workers often found themselves performing the impossible task of scalping carcases at ground level. Raising the chain to a height of 12ft. 6in., is the obvious solution to this problem. It also means raising the platform on which the men work. The height of this will vary from point to point along the chain so that each of the many different jobs in the dressing process can be performed at the most comfortable level, usually about waist height.

Cattle slaughtering and processing facilities at Patea, will remain unchanged at this stage, but provision has been made in planning the layout of the whole works for the construction of a cattle killing floor.

27 Fire Brigades Put Through Their Paces At Westfield

Westfield Voluntary Fire Brigade were hosts for the first time to the Auckland Provincial V.F.G. Championships held at Mt Wellington on March 16-17. Twenty-seven brigades competed plus a guest team from Tasmania. Some 450 guests attended the Saturday evening function.

Although the Westfield team did not pull off the main events they did not disgrace themselves by any means.

This brigade was formed on May 16, 1917 and as well as proving its worth to the company in the case of fires and such emergencies, has been very successful over a long period of time in competitions.

It has in its brigade room over 150 certificates including 12 Auckland championships.

The brigade is 10 strong at the present time and the attached photo, which was taken in front of the works fire engine, was the team which represented the works at the recent competition. They are standing from left: Frank Horspool, station officer (coach): Allen Gordon, fireman; Bill Webster, fireman. Sitting: Ross Whittle, deputy chief fire officer; Graham Jane, chief fire officer.

Note the brass fire helmets. These are worth many hundreds of dollars and we understand that Westfield is the only brigade left in New Zealand still using them.

Thornie Hamilton has retired. Here he is at right being presented with a beautifully embossed silver salver by Mr Bob Jeffery, general manager of the Westfield Freezing Company, at a recent farewell luncheon. Some 50 members of the Westfield buying staff and senior personnel attended. Thornie joined the company in 1937 after having previously experienced many years of close association with it. In 1950 he took charge of the company’s pig buying operations and later helped with the general supervision of the livestock buying organisation. Many people at the gathering paid tributes to Thornie’s many outstanding qualities and wished he and his wife, May, the very best in their retirement.


Mr G.T. Taylor (at right), general manager of Tomoana Works, Hastings. He joined the parent organisation in the United Kingdom in 1951 and worked for a number of subsidiary companies before transferring to New Zealand in 1967. He became general manager of Tomoana in October, 1970, following two years with W. & R. Fletcher (NZ) Ltd., at head office in Wellington.

Mr Matt Laird (above left) one of the company’s senior sales representatives, receiving his gold watch from Mr J.B. Kent, New Zealand sales manager for W. & R. Fletcher (NZ) Ltd., at a recent function held in Hawera to mark continuous service of more than 40 years.


The next issue of “Weddel’s World” will be published on September 23. Deadline for all copy is August 30. Please send your news items to Mr P. Angland, sales department, W. & R. Fletcher (NZ) Ltd., P.O. BOX 594, Wellington.

W. & R. FLETCHER (N.Z.) Ltd.
Box 594

Original digital file


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Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ)

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Business / Organisation

W & R Fletcher (NZ) Ltd

Date published

June 1974

Format of the original



  • B J Bishop
  • E Evans
  • Thornie Hamilton
  • R Fletcher
  • D Frederickson
  • Allen Gordon
  • M Hinchliff
  • Frank Horspool
  • R G Hughson
  • Graham Jane
  • Bob Jeffery
  • J B Kent
  • Matt Laird
  • W F Leonard
  • D Lloyd
  • P N Mansill
  • P T Norman
  • W O'Reilly
  • J Parsons
  • G T Taylor
  • J B Walton
  • Bill Webster
  • Ross Whittle

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