A new meat processing facility near Toowoomba will employ 300 people.
A new meat processing facility near Toowoomba will employ 300 people. Bev Lacey

Asia export boom drives FKG’s $80m development

TOOWOOMBA could soon be on the frontline of a boom in exports to Asia with plans to build an $80 million meat processing facility on the city's western edge.

FK Gardner and Sons has lodged an application with Toowoomba Regional Council to develop the plant at the Witmack Industrial Park, 10km west of Toowoomba.

It hopes to have construction under way early next year with operations to start in 2017.

When completed, the meat processing plant will kill 10,000 head a week and employ 300 people.

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise chief executive Shane Charles said the proposal had merit with the Wellcamp Airport opening an export link with Asia and the Darling Downs positioned as "Australia's feedlot capital".

"It makes a bucket load of sense to get on board," he said.

FKG group manager of property development Dallas Hunter said the meat processing facility was about diversifying the company's operations.

FKG is already the Darling Downs' biggest farming company with 11,000 hectares of agricultural property near Cecil Plains.

"It's a very exciting project," Mr Hunter said.

"With the slowdown in the gas industry, we're hoping agriculture might fill the gap.

"We're spreading the company as wide as we can as part of our risk management and diversification."

Mr Hunter said the facility would be built with a commercial partner.

He said the opportunity was driven by overseas demand for Australian produce and the ability to export via the Wellcamp Airport.

"It's about food security around the world and the demand that it is creating," Mr Hunter said.