Philippine poultry processor May Harvest has invested in a 6,000 bph (100bpm) greenfield, expandable to 10,000 (166 bpm). As it includes advanced technologies from Marel Poultry such as Stork IRIS vision grading, SmartWeigher, Innova software and a completely automated evisceration department, this is not only one of the largest but also a trendsetting plant in the country.
In its earliest days, May Harvest started up its processing activities using a 2,000 bph Stork line which would later be expanded to 3,000 bph (50 bpm). Today, May Harvest has invested in a 6,000 bph (100 bpm) greenfield facility, completely equipped with Marel Poultry systems and allowing for future growth to a capacity of 10,000 bph (166 bpm).
“We are an ambitious company that always wants to be a step ahead of the market. It is for this reason that we are continuing with our cooperation with Marel Poultry as the premium supplier of the highest quality equipment available in the world. Other Philippine processors may opt for cheaper solutions, but we want to go the extra mile simply to be the best in class!” says Claire Gallardo, May Harvest plant director.
The current building will be extended with a new “greenfield” wing for the expansion. The existing line will be kept in operation until the new line is up and running. After that, it will be dismantled and new cut-up, deboning and further processing equipment will be installed in this part of the plant.
In the Philippines, the major players in the market are large, vertically organized food companies. These contractors outsource all their slaughtering activities to multiple so-called “toll processors”.
The contractor supplies the live birds to the toll processor and comes back to collect the end products, which can be whole grillers or cut-up pieces. 100% of the toll processor’s production is returned to the contractor. It is the contractor who then distributes the products to fast food chains and restaurants.
Although a large part of the poultry industry in the Philippines is still held by the wet market, QSR restaurants such as KFC, Kenny Rogers Roasters, Jollibee, Chowking and McDonalds can be seen everywhere. Consumption is up and more than ever, processed chicken is needed. That is why contractors are asking toll processors, such as May Harvest, to expand capacities.
Marel Poultry is May Harvest’s main supplier for the primary process; from live bird shackling to the high-frequency water bath stunner, from the killer and the bleeding trough through to the scalders and pluckers.
In the evisceration department, after transfer via the Stork TR-DE rehanger, machines such as the combined VOC-20 vent cutter/opener and Nuova-24 eviscerator perform their tasks. The NIC neck inspection machine features an integrated inside outside washer and is followed by a FIM RotoVac Final Inspection Machine.
Fast food restaurants in the Philippines insist that each cut piece of poultry meat is the exact same bite size, therefore requiring the same cooking time is needed for each piece. Larger chickens must then be cut differently than smaller chickens as to not provide portions that are too big. This has resulted in special cuts, which can provide anywhere from four or six cut pieces and at times, as many as nine to twelve cut pieces.
At the moment, May Harvest is doing these special cuts by hand but intends to automate the more common eight to ten piece cuts in the second stage of their upgrade project. As May Harvest expects the demand for deboned products to increase, the company will also start deboning breast caps and anatomic legs. A separate cut-up line will be installed for this with breast deboning being done automatically and leg deboning manually.
To ensure that all cut products are the same exact size, it is useful to know more about product weights and quality grades in the preceding grading line. For this reason May Harvest decided to install the IRIS vision system and SmartWeigher directly after chilling.
Both of these solutions are supported by Innova software, which also extends into the primary process, keeping track of flock numbers. This satisfies the contractor’s wish to have more control of the process to ensure accurate reporting and traceability. Claire Gallardo says, “For Philippine standards, we have made significant steps towards advanced, high-tech poultry processing.”
May Harvest is a long-standing customer of Marel Poultry, both companies being partners since 1995. It is located in Santa Maria (Bulacan), on the main island of the Philippines, 30km north of Metro Manila. This region, with its dense population, is also the largest market for poultry products.