Geraldton meatworks set to reopen after five years in bid to meet chilled meat demand from Asia, Middle East

geraldton meatworks set to reopen after five years in bid to meet chilled meat demand from asia, middle east

Syed Ghazaly wants to see the Geraldton abattoir reopen early next year to process 1,000 sheep a day. (ABC Mid West Wheatbelt: Chris Lewis)

The new owners of a mothballed abattoir in Western Australia’s mid-west, the Alqudsi Agri Group, have revealed plans to export sheep meat directly from Australian paddocks to markets in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Middle East.

 

Alqudsi Agri Group executive director Syed Ghazaly said he hoped to have the facility running by mid-February under the name Al QMeats.

“We want to start at 1,000 [sheep] per day, but overall by next year we want to increase it to its maximum capacity of 2,500,” he said.

“My ready customers are in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Middle East. The 1,000-kill per day would eventually cover them.

“I will kill rams — they are for Singapore, they like the older sheep — Brunei and Malaysia want mutton and lamb, but the Middle East just want lamb.”

Formerly known as Geraldton Meat Exports, or GME, the abattoir on the outskirts of Geraldton has not operated since 2018.

WA’s sheep industry has been plagued by delays in the processing sector with the limited capacity of the state’s few operating abattoirs reducing demand and pushing down prices.

Mr Ghazaly said Al QMeats would produce halal-certified meat, where animals are stunned, slaughtered while facing Mecca, and drained of their blood.

While some meat will be available to the mid-west domestic market, Mr Ghazaly said most would be frozen or chilled, containerised, and exported to overseas markets.

Confident about supply

Despite the current raft of challenges faced by the WA sheep industry — such as poor prices, uncertainty about the future of the live export trade, and dry conditions — Mr Ghazaly said he was confident about a regular supply of sheep.

“Of course, we have to put that as one of our challenges, but I will be having my own sheep station so I will be [breeding] as many as possible,” he said.

“The supply will be there. We have 14 million sheep [in WA].”

Mr Ghazaly said he would like to introduce a beef line into the abattoir in two years.

Al QMeats requires about 50 people at the Geraldton property, and Mr Ghazaly said the company was looking to employ locals, but would also explore options of employing people under working visas.

Before the doors can open, work is required on the abattoir’s refrigeration unit, boiler, and wastewater management systems.

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