For one of New Zealand’s largest exporters, it’s the relationships and business connections made across Taranaki that play a vital role in the company’s ongoing success.
ANZCO Foods, which procures, processes, designs, creates and markets New Zealand beef and lamb products, has production facilities in Eltham (South Taranaki) and Waitara (North Taranaki). Both sites contribute significantly to the company’s annual sales of more than $1.45 billion.
The Eltham plant processes beef, sourced from Taranaki and the lower North Island, and employs 580 staff during the peak season. The Waitara operation makes value-added products, including burger patties for McDonald’s restaurants in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and gourmet foods, including soft beef jerky for a customer in the United States. More than 140 people work at the Waitara plant.
“We have a strong connection with the dairy industry, the transport industry and community throughout Taranaki,” says ANZCO Foods’ Eltham site manager Troy Lambly. “All play key roles in our operations.
“Our Eltham plant is critical to our overall operation; it has the biggest beef throughput in the group and is one of the largest beef processing sites in the North Island. The Taranaki dairy industry is a large part of that production – probably 55% of the 170,000 head of cattle we process at Eltham come out of the regional industry.”
The Eltham plant produces about 50,000 tonnes of meat and by-products a year, worth about $350 million.
“About 90% is exported to 170 countries, particularly China and the United States. Eltham is pivotal in terms of our customer base in the beef market,” says Troy.
The bulk of the remaining raw meat is trucked to Waitara, where it is turned into prepared foods and gourmet products, including more than 460,000 meat patties a day for McDonald’s. The Waitara plant also supplies the global McDonald’s market when there is demand.
Being a predominantly export company, ANZCO relies on secure, reliable connectivity between Eltham, Waitara and export ports.
“We have to target getting product by certain dates to meet vessels all around the North Island, so reliable transport is vital. The transport infrastructure in Taranaki is good. We have strong relationships with trucking companies, particularly Uhlenberg Haulage, who we use for all of our finished product movements that are going to export, and also in the shuttle runs between plants,” says Troy.
“The inland container hub in New Plymouth is also important. We use that heavily, getting containerised product on rail and either held at an internal hub or sent direct to ports around the North Island.”
In December 2017, Japanese company Itoham Foods, which had been a key partner and shareholder in ANZCO since it began in 1989, bought ANZCO Foods outright. Troy says there is opportunity for further national or international investment in Taranaki’s growing and changing food industry.
“There is always demand for, and interest in, New Zealand products. There are good established relationships within Taranaki and doing business here is very good,” he says.
“I also think it’s important that we build on the connectivity between existing business and ensure we add value and enhance what we have already.”
During the Alert Level 4 lockdown period, ANZCO operated as an essential service, providing employment to staff, service to farmers and export of product to overseas partners, and New Zealand.
“Our export markets during the COVID pandemic have steadily opened up, and we are seeing demand for our products from our export partners, which is pleasing to see”, explains Troy.
Looking ahead, ANZCO hopes to expand upon employment opportunities in the new beef season, which would have a positive effect on the community at a time when unemployment could be higher, post COVID-19.