Southland meat processor Alliance Group is investing $4 million to lift its beef processing capacity in the South Island.
The farmer-owned co-operative will upgrade its 18-month-old venison plant at Lorneville near Invercargill to enable the facility to also process cull cows during peak season.
Chief executive of Alliance Group David Surveyor said the investment was a key part of the co-operative's beef growth strategy.
"As our supply volumes have continued to grow year on year, our farmers have been asking for more beef capacity in peak season.
"It means we will be able to make a meaningful difference for our farmers by processing some cull cows at Lorneville and freeing up space at Mataura for prime steer, heifer and bull.
"It is also a win for deer farmers because we will be increasing our venison processing capacity at the Lorneville plant," said Surveyor.
Alliance Group had been investing in strengthening its beef performance at its Mataura, Levin and Pukeuri plants, which processed record numbers of cattle during the 2018-19 season, he said.
"We are serious about delivering on our strategy of investing in maximising our operational performance to benefit farmer-shareholders and create a stronger co-operative.
"The beef expansion demonstrates the co-operative's continued commitment to the Lorneville site," he said.
The Lorneville plant, which also includes bovine processing, is one of the largest sites in New Zealand, employing almost 2000 people in total at peak capacity.
"We are planning additional investment to future-proof the operation and improve its long-term competitiveness," said Surveyor.
The co-operative was also investing in the development of a premium beef portfolio, he said.
The beef processing expansion at Lorneville should be in place by next season.
New figures show the export value of New Zealand meat was up $102 million or 11 percent in March compared with March 2019.