The 100 per cent farmer-owned co-operative began processing its first deer at the plant on Monday (17th September). Once operating at peak capacity, the plant near Invercargill will employ approximately 60 people.The plant features improved handling facilities and an enhanced configuration. The slaughterboard, boning room and offal area are larger than those at Alliance’s venison processing facilities at Smithfield and the company’s former Makarewa plant.Alliance Group Chief Executive David Surveyor welcomed the start of processing at the plant: “This investment at Lorneville reinforces the co-operative’s position as a leading and innovative processor and shows how serious we are about strengthening our presence in the deer industry. We are delivering on our strategy of investing in maximising our operational performance.“The opening of this plant also reflects our commitment to continuing to invest in New Zealand’s rural communities. We are proud of our Southland roots and we employ more than 2,000 people in the region alone. Lorneville is an important part of our processing network and an important contributor to the co-operative’s success.”Alliance is working hard to capture greater value for Pure South venison in the co-operative’s global markets, said Mr Surveyor.“In addition to marketing venison in Germany and Europe for the game season, we are selling into the US and UK markets with value added propositions.“Our goal is to increase out of season chilled consumption while at the same time continue to grow sales of our seasonal chilled venison.”An official ribbon cutting event is expected to be held in December.