AUSTRALIA – Meat packing business, Hilton Foods Australia has opened a new AUS 280 million (US$190.3 million) meat processing and distribution facility in Heathwood, Queensland.

The state-of-the-art processing plant will utilise the latest robotic systems to package meat and vegan products for more than 450 Woolworths supermarket stores in Australia.

The investment is underpinned by Hilton’s long-term national supply partnership with Woolworths.

Woolworths said the technology at the plant is “set to drive a step change in consistency and quality of fresh red meat” at its stores, as well as improve stock availability across more hours of trade for shoppers.

Hilton Foods Australia CEO Pat McEntee said: “We are proud to be joining the local community in Heathwood and contributing to economic growth with new employment opportunities and service contracts.

“We value our partnership with Woolworths and look forward to assisting in developing a faster and fresher supply of high-quality meat and value-added products.”

The facility will deliver more than 1,500 tonnes of fresh red meat to Woolworths stores each week, complementing Hilton Foods Australia’s existing meat processing facilities in Melbourne and Perth.

The Heathwood facility features Australia’s second-largest rooftop photovoltaic solar installation, which will provide around 50% of the site’s energy needs through 6,000 solar panels providing 2,800MWhs a year.

In addition, and automated heat recovery system will heat 100,000L of water a day, utilising the energy produced by the site’s refrigeration compressors. This method will save 170MWh of energy per year.

Woolworths director of fresh food Paul Harker said: “It’s really pleasing to see our long-term supply relationship with Hilton Foods Australia underpin this important new investment and job creation in Queensland.

“We’re fortunate to source our fresh meat from the best Australian producers, and it’s important we uphold the quality of their product from paddock to plate.

“The opening of this state-of-the-art facility in Heathwood will help us deliver a consistently great fresh meat offer.”

The facility will employ upto 650 people across its 23 production lines when it attains full production in 2020.