RIDLEY Corporation Limited is set to consolidate its Australian milling operations on the mainland with the planned sale of its Westbury pellet factory in Tasmania to Skretting Australia for $54.85 million.
Announced last month, it will give Norway-based global aquafeed company Skretting a second Australian aquafeed plant to supplement production from its Cambridge facility near Hobart.
Grain Central understands Skretting produces around 70,000 tonnes of aquafeed pellets per annum at Cambridge, while the Westbury mill has been producing around 50,000t per annum of aquafeed and other pellets.
The Westbury mill is located 20 kilometres west of Launceston and opened in 2019.
Last year Danish company BioMar opened its only Australian plant at Wesley Vale, about 40 kilometres north-west of Westbury.
Both the BioMar plant, with capacity to produce around 110,000t per annum of aquafeed, and the Westbury plant produce pellets for a variety of aquatic species including salmon.
In a statement, Ridley said the sale of the Westbury mill will enable the company to reset its manufacturing cost base to better service the aquafeed market.
“The sale represents the divestment of the underutilised Westbury extrusion facility, with Ridley committed to continue supplying current and future customers through its expanded Narangba extrusion facility,” Ridley managing director and chief executive officer Quinton Hildebrand said.
Mr Hildebrand said the significant upgrade and expansion of its Narangba plant north of Brisbane was due for completion next month.
“This will consolidate our aquaculture feed production into one facility, providing a more competitive and lower-cost supply chain to service the Australian and New Zealand aquaculture industry, including our Tasmanian customers.”
Ridley will continue to manufacture feed at Westbury as normal until the sale is completed.
Ridley is Australia’s biggest producer of prawn feed, and also has investments in aquafeed in China and Thailand.
In a statement accompanying Ridley’s 2020 Annual Report, the company said it had last year bought 50 hectares of land at Chanthaburi, Thailand, and had moved from half to full ownership of the nearby Pen Ngern aquafeed mill.
Skretting has been making aquafeed at its Cambridge facility since the 1990s, and employs more than 90 staff.
“I am pleased that we are expanding our manufacturing capacity to enable us to continue our long-term commitment to clients and partners across the broader Australian and New Zealand aquaculture industries,” Skretting Australia general manager Melissa Abbott said.
Skretting is owned by Dutch trading company SHV Holdings through its subsidiary, producer of animal nutrition, fish feed and processed meat products, Nutreco N.V.
Nutreco chief executive officer Rob Koremans said Skretting Australia was an important part of the global business.
“This is a strategically important investment for us in a growing and leading industry, and we intend to continue to partner with local leaders for many years to come,” Mr Koremans said.
The Skretting website says the Cambridge facility currently produces feed for: Atlantic and chinook salmon; barramundi; yellowtail kingfish; abalone; prawn, and freshwater and seawater trout.
Ridley’s sale of the Westbury facility is subject to approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is expected to conclude in coming months.
Source: Ridley, Skretting