Testing time for John Dee abattoir

WITH the temporary closure of Toowoomba's Beef City still in people's minds, John Dee spokesperson Warren Stiff has said the Warwick abattoir was working through a “very difficult” period.

Slow export demand for beef has forced abattoirs to reassess their production schedules but Mr Stiff remains positive.

“Generally, trading at the moment is difficult but that's just the market,” he said.

“Exports are very flat and it's not only the strong Australian dollar we've had to contend with; we really have got a lacklustre demand and in a range of markets.”

John Dee has increased its exports to Korea to help fill the void left by slowed Japanese consumer demand.

Both Korea and Japan are struggling to shift their current beef supplies on hand, during what Mr Stiff said was a sluggish time of year.

“Generally their stock on hand now is quite high so (the Japanese) are probably looking at take smaller orders,” he said.

“It's a combination of reasons – obviously the tsunami and the results from that, but it's the season too.

“They've just come out of June and it's always a stingy month, where trade backs off.

“At the moment, they're attempting to manage their risks by reducing their stock levels.”

Mr Stiff expects demand to pick up from July to August, and said while John Dee would work through any alternatives, they would not take any drastic measures.

“We've slightly backed off daily production levels but, at this stage, we're not looking at any major production stoppage,” he said.

“We don't envisage we'll be following (Beef City's) lead.

“These are very tough conditions but we're working through them.

“There's nothing worse than stopping production for all people involved.

“We're trying to remain positive in a difficult time.”

Asked how the John Dee Yarranbrook feedlot at Inglewood was doing, Mr Stiff said it was “business as usual” and declined to make any further comments.

John Dee's export abattoir at Warwick employs more than 450 people, predominantly in full-time positions, on a daily basis.



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