Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 34

PROCESSOR PROFILE

In the Swedesboro facility
there are 50,000 square
feet of processing space
with a 20,000-squarefoot addition going
online in 2021.

34

To enter the US market, Thomas
International partnered with Foodcomm
International to form a food import, processing
and distribution business.
" The driving force [for the entry into the
US] was to get further down the value chain
and closer to our customers, " Forrest said. " We
wanted to better service a growing market in
the US for Australian lamb and beef. "
After a few years of importing products and
using third-party processors to process meat
for its customers, Thomas Foods International
decided to take a more firsthand approach by
building its Swedesboro facility.
" We simply realized we could not provide
the level of service we wanted for our
customers without a processing plant of
our own, " Forrest said. " So, in late 2012, we
decided to build our own facility in South
Jersey. By early 2014, we started operations.
We wanted to take our destiny into our own
hands by building our own processing and
distribution facility. "
While still under the umbrella of its
parent company in Australia, Thomas Foods
International, USA has a separate management
team and structure.
" We work closely with the Australian
operations to try and maximize the benefits
for our customers, " Forrest said. " As an entity,
the US business stands independent in terms
of its operations - from administration to
plant management. "
The new plant was built in Swedesboro,
just 30 minutes from the Port of Philadelphia

MEAT+ POULTRY | 01.21 | www.meatpoultry.com

where a large portion of US red meat imports
are brought in.
" We built a facility that we thought would
take us 10 years to grow into, " Forrest said.
" After 12 months, we realized it was going to
be too small. "
The company has continued to add on to its
250,000-square-foot facility, realizing that soon
an additional plant will be needed.
" Unfortunately, we are going to max out
and have to find a new site - which is a good
problem to have, " Forrest said. " We can build
another 60,000 square feet at this location
before we will have to go elsewhere. It is
inevitable that we'll be looking for a new
production site in the near future. "

PRODUCTION CAPABILITIES
The Swedesboro plant, which is a more than
$500 million a year operation, includes cold
storage, processing, packaging, shipping, office
space and employs more than 400 people.
Production runs three shifts - day, night and
sanitation - at least five days a week. The
warehouse and distribution department runs
three shifts, six days a week.
There is currently 50,000 square feet of
processing space, with a 20,000-square-foot
addition set to be operational in 2021. The
cold storage portion of the facility features
17,500 temperature-controlled pallet positions
available for refrigerated and frozen storage.
When Thomas International branched into
the US market, vertical integration was the
end goal.


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Meat+Poultry - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - January 2021

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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - vdg - 1
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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - marel - 1
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