Work continues at Swickers Bacon Factory on Friday, January 13.
Work continues at Swickers Bacon Factory on Friday, January 13. Will Hunter

Swickers looks at expansion options in reconstruction

SUNPORK is looking at options to expand part of Swickers Bacon Factory when the pig abattoir is reconstructed.

Crews are demolishing parts of the factory that were destroyed by fire last year.

SunPork chief executive officer Robert van Barneveld said when this was finished, the rebuild would start straight away, and the company had looked at building a second kill floor.

"Demolition is obviously under way and we expect the site to be clear in the next three weeks," Mr van Barneveld said.

"We're also well down the path of the planning and design phase and when that's finished will hope construction will begin," he said.

"Also we are already under way with putting in some temporary facilities that may assist with getting some staff back to Kingaroy sooner."

Mr van Barneveld said a second kill floor would ensure Swickers had a back-up in the event of another fire or a similar incident.

It would also allow the site to increase its output.

"It will allow us to process more pigs faster and underpin pork expansion in Queensland," Mr van Barneveld said.

"In light of the fire we've created a kill floor redundancy and if there's another incident we can use the other floor."

Pork producers would have greater certainty in pig processing, he said.

"I think with this fire we demonstrated we can take care of our customers and this is another safety net though it's all still in the planning phase," he said.

"Prior to fire Swickers was getting close to capacity and if we want to grow the industry we need to expand."

Fire destroyed the boning room, meat chillers and export distribution centre at the Kingaroy factory on November 6, 2016.

Mr van Barneveld described the plan to re-build as a "fast track operation", and if all went to plan the site would be operating by November.

"We're doing everything we can to get everything back to normal this year," he said.

"It's very much going to plan and our priority is to get to get people back to work in Kingaroy."

The processing floor, value-add facilities, offices, new warehouse chiller and dry goods store were not affected in last year's fire, but services to some of these sites were interrupted.

Following the fire, about 120 SunPork employees were sent to work at a processing plant in the Ipswich suburb of Wulkuraka.

About 570 people are employed at Swickers Bacon Factory.