Meat company owes $3.8m to frustrated suppliers
FURIOUS creditors are owed up to $3.8 million by a Queensland meat supplier who claimed the closure of a Tasmanian abattoir was to blame for his company's collapse.
Melrose Wholesale Meats general manager Kerry Melrose this week said the closure of JBS' Devonport abattoir meant he could no longer supply Tasmanian royal lamb, the company's premier product.
Melrose Wholesale Meats was placed in administration on August 22.
The Courier Mail understands early investigations show about 82 creditors are owed up to $3.8 million.
Menzies Advisory principal Michael Caspaney, who was appointed administrator of Melrose Wholesale Meats, declined to provide details on the state of the business until a report was provided to a creditors' meeting in September.
"It has to be a comprehensive report of the company," he said.
It is understood Roberts Livestock Tasmania, an agency used by Melrose Wholesale Meats to buy stock, is owed about $387,000.
Roberts Livestock declined to comment on the issue.
Highchester Abattoir at Gleneagle, Queensland, successfully took Melrose Wholesale Meats to court earlier this year for non-payment of services totalling $57,474.
The abattoir stopped killing cows and pigs for Melrose Wholesale Meats in February after the company failed to pay its bills, incurred over six weeks to January this year.
"It won't send us broke but it's had a detrimental effect on our cash flow," a spokesman for the abattoir said.
Mr Melrose blames a tightening meat industry for the bills piling up.
"It was just a downturn," he said.
"People owning their own meatworks (and) just general competition.
"When you're squeezed at other ends you run out of your ability to pay people... even though you want to."
Mr Melrose agreed money owed to creditors ran into the millions, but did not believe it was as high as $3.8 million.
Six generations of the Melrose family has operated Melrose Wholesale Meats over the past 136 years.
It is understood about $200,000 is owed to Fresh Freight, a Tasmanian company that shipped carcasses to Queensland for the meat supplier.
The company declined to comment.