We’ve grown our network capacity in Victoria by 40% over the past three years to ensure we’re growing in line with the demand for chicken as the most affordable and sustainable land-based meat protein.
Supporting the uplift in capacity, a range of farming investments have been undertaken. In East Gippsland, we built two new barn-raised broiler farms in FY22 a nd we have another due to finish construction in FY24. When operating at full capacity, these three farms will nurture more than 6.8 million chickens every year.
With this growth, we are also committed to leading the way with our operating standards. Ingham’s construction of its hatchery at Pakenham in 2021 gives it the highest welfare offering in Australia. The implementation of HatchCare incubation technology provides optimal temperatures and improved ventilation, increased lighting, access to feed and water, and a quieter and more comfortable environment for chicks as soon as they hatch. These conditions lead to healthier and stronger chicks. The HatchCare system also improves animal welfare outcomes by reducing chick handling stress as they are not removed from the hatcher baskets after hatching for counting and transport. The hatchery is critical to ensuring we have the capacity to meet future demand and has been designed to nurture 1.1 million eggs into healthy chicks every week.
At our primary processing plant in Somerville, we invested $18.5 million in new equipment to ensure we could more efficiently process the increased bird numbers. This included new spin chillers that use less water and enable us to process chicken more efficiently.
Water savings continue to go hand-in-hand with our focus on investing in our operations and taking care of our planet’s resources. The advanced wastewater treatment plant at Somerville enables us to recover 62% of all water used on the site, which is then treated for reuse during processing. Furthermore, since 2011, we have been able to increase the number of birds we process per week from 600,000 to 950,000 while reducing the water needed to clean the birds by 32%, and we have a goal to further reduce that to achieve an overall 34% reduction in water usage.
Our new and larger distribution centre in Truganina opened in 2022 ensures that our increased capacity and the demand for our products is met with our closer location to transport routes. The new centre also features a 4 Star Green Star design that includes solar panels that can cover up to 100% of energy consumption.
Our commitment to grow in the best way is demonstrated with 95 per cent of our sites achieving ‘A’ or ‘AA’ ratings by the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. And, all of our barn-raised and free range broiler farms in Australia are certified by the RSPCA Approved Farming Assurance Scheme and in New Zealand we are the first poultry producer to be SPCA Certified.
As the largest integrated poultry producer across Australia and New Zealand, we are committed to growing sustainably to meet the growing demand for our products.