Thomas Foods International takes full ownership of victorian meat processing plant

  • Posted on 11 July 2023

Thomas Foods International (TFI), Australia’s largest 100% family-owned red meat processor, has taken over full ownership of Victoria-based Frew Foods International (“Frew”).

In 2020, TFI acquired a 50% stake in Frew in a deal that provided both Australian companies with growth prospects across key national and international markets. TFI has now increased its investment to a 100% stake in the 39-year-old company.

The agreement – effective July 1, 2023 – sees Frew Managing Director Robert Frew depart from the business and Frew become a wholly owned subsidiary of the TFI global group of companies. Frew will be rebranded as Thomas Foods International Stawell, with that name change to be formally implemented in the coming weeks. “This has been a well-planned business transition that secures the long-term future of the Stawell facility and our staff,” Robert said.

“I am leaving the business in extremely strong Australian hands. Our families have known each other well over two generations and since TFI took a 50% stake in the company they have proven to be a fully committed partner that will take this operation well into the future. “For me personally, this marks the end of a chapter for our family but I leave proud of what we have built over the years and excited for what lies ahead for everyone associated with the Stawell operation.”

The Stawell plant, recognised as one of the country’s highest quality smallstock facilities, processes lamb and sheep sourced through saleyards and directly from farmers throughout eastern and central Australia.

As part of this transition TFI is committed to a major upgrade of the facility through a staged and multifaceted investment program of around $100 million. This upgrade will include:

  1. New cold store and logistics hub incorporating significant automation
  2. Extension of the lamb boning room incorporating the latest technology
  3. New office and upgrade to employee amenities
  4. New protein processing plant
  5. New facility to process skins on site

This significant investment will support an increase in the workforce at Stawell to around 750 full time jobs. It will also provide a significant boost to the economy in town and the region more broadly.

“Robert and his father Arch have created an outstanding local operation which we will look to grow further in the future,” TFI Managing Director Darren Thomas said. “We have exciting plans for Stawell within our national and international operations and as such we’re looking to invest significantly here for the long term.” The strong local management team remains in place at Stawell, led by plant manager Shane Wittmann. TFI is currently recruiting to further grow the plant’s workforce as it boosts processing capacity with a range of both skilled and entry level positions currently available.

For more information on the positions available at Stawell go to