Silver Fern Farms celebrates its food heroes
Silver Fern Farms celebrates its food heroes
Through nearly five weeks of level four lockdown, essential workers ensured the meat New Zealanders rely on continued to make it from pasture to plate. While there have been numerous heroes on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 that have been visible, there have been just as many working hard behind the scenes that we haven’t been able to thank in person. At Silver Fern Farms, those unseen and unsung heroes are the plant staff – the butchers, boners, labourers, packers and other process workers – the shipping and logistics teams working tirelessly to get the product where it needs to be, and the Livestock Representatives working hard with farmers to look after livestock. They kept Kiwis fed with nutritious red meat of the highest quality through lockdown, and continued to as restrictions eased.
Along with the Operations leadership teams and the Quality Assurance and Technical teams, Silver Fern Farms plant workers put in long hours, bridging the gap between farmer and consumer while taking utmost care to maintain excellent hygiene standards and remain physically distant. And now, Silver Fern Farms is taking the time to show appreciation for these workers, using real words of thanks gathered from its farmers and staff. Although they can’t show their gratitude to the plant workers in person, they’ve done the next best thing, with Silver Fern Farms launching an ‘Our Food Heroes’ platform on its website where staff can upload notes of thanks, as well as sharing these messages far and wide through social media.
Silver Fern Farms General Manager Supply Chain Daniel Boulton was one of many to share his thanks on the platform. “You’ve done an outstanding job keeping our plants going, keeping the food chain going and looking after our farmers through this tough time,” he says. “A big thank you, I’m super proud of what you’ve achieved – you’re going to be a big part of the New Zealand recovery, so keep it up.”
Head of Health Wellness and Rehabilitation Hannah McIntosh says she is “very thankful” for these essential workers turning up to work each day. “Though we can’t stand by your side, we’ve definitely got your back,” she says. As for the farmers, farm manager Todd Bolton passed on his “huge thanks for all the people leaving home each day to go to work and keep the country ticking along, and feeding the world. Staff and farmers have been particularly thankful to plant workers, supply chain and livestock teams after they processed over Easter for the first time, and Anzac Day – which has been a great relief to farmers.”
“As farmers in a very dry area and soon to be very cold area we would like to thank you and your staff for your efforts to clear the backlog of stock,” say Hugh and Noelene Donald of Toa Toa Farming Ltd. “We know that it has been a very challenging season with the drought and now this virus.” Indeed, the teams stationed at Silver Fern Farms’ 14 plants have been doing an incredible job under difficult and stressful circumstances. Their work is an integral part of the Silver Fern Farms chain of care.
Delicious Starts Here Philosophy
At Silver Fern Farms, processing is essential to the ‘Delicious Starts Here’ philosophy, where the ability to make delicious comes from the way the product is approached, from start to finish. While delicious starts on the pasture with animals raised as nature intended, that deliciousness is expertly maintained during the production process. This process meets the highest standards set in New Zealand by the Ministry for Primary Industries, as well as those set internationally. It takes care and attention to detail to maintain these standards, which the plant staff were able to do even with the added pressures of lockdown.
Of course, for plant workers to continue their important work in feeding New Zealand and the world with Silver Fern Farms’ red meat, processes had to be put in place to keep staff and their families safe. While Silver Fern Farms’ cleaning, hygiene and PPE measures are already to the highest of standards due to the nature of its processing and outputs, these systems were further enhanced amid coronavirus restrictions.
These included reducing processing speed, ensuring physical distancing by increasing space between workstations, installing physical barriers where distancing is not possible, creating additional hand wash stations, and implementing more plant cleaning measures.
There was also an emphasis on working with the staff to ensure their individual needs were met, by allowing for flexible working arrangements, offering support for ‘at risk’ workers, and providing guidelines for staff regarding their travel to and from work.
The outpouring of thanks that has come from farmers and staff at Silver Fern Farms reveals just how hard these food heroes have been working, and emphasises how much they deserve appreciation.
Silver Fern Farms CEO Simon Limmer has shared his thanks too, and says the way people are working together through the pandemic is bringing out the best in everyone. “We are an essential service, fundamental to the production of safe food for New Zealand, and for the world. The hard work of our Food People is recognised and appreciated,” he says. “By coming to work at our plants and support offices you are keeping our industry going. Food will be the backbone of New Zealand’s recovery.”