A new operator could soon take over the JBS abattoir facility at Devonport.
JBS has been in discussions with Cressy-based Tasmanian Quality Meats, with the two companies now negotiating on terms for an agreement.
If successful, the agreement would see TQM take over the JBS facility to continue to process pork for at least the next 12 months.
State Growth Minister Peter Gutwein said negotiations were going well.
“TQM are currently at the table negotiating a lease with JBS in terms of taking over the pork operation from November 16,” he said.
“I’m hopeful we can deal with the detail and that we can have a seamless transition to TQM from JBS.”
TQM manager Brian Oliver said he was very pleased with the progress of negotiations, and expected things to be finalised next week.
“TQM decided to have negotiations with JBS regarding the pig processing plant so that pork producers will have somewhere to process their pigs,” Mr Oliver said.
“It isn't a long term solution as it isn't financially viable to operate a facility that is as large as DCA to do a small amount of numbers, but with assistance from the state government we will stay there for as long as it takes to give someone the opportunity to build a stand-alone pork processing plant.”
JBS announced its plans to permanently cease operating its Devonport abattoir in October. The facility processed most of Tasmania’s pigs.
Mr Gutwein said JBS was interested in providing an opportunity for a solution to the pork processing problem, as it was identified as the most critical issue for the state.
“We don’t see that there is as much a problem for sheep and lamb and beef as what there is for pork, and that’s why we’ve been focussed on a solution for pork,” he said.
“In terms of lamb and beef, there is capacity in the market at other abattoirs for any overflow as a result of the closure.”
Mr Gutwein said at this stage it was unknown what staffing decisions would be made if the two companies came to an agreement.
“What will be interesting here is there will be a migration of some employment to other abattoirs, so at this stage while it certainly will be a smaller operation at Devonport there will be opportunities elsewhere in the industry,” Mr Gutwein said.
“I am very hopeful that we can find the solution for a seamless transition, but the deal’s not done yet, and we just need to move through all the necessary steps,” he said.