A 15,000 bph greenfield for Atria Finland

Vice-president Reijo Áijó looks forward to a high-capacity, data-driven process

Atria Nurmo Factory2022

Atria Finland has started the construction of the largest investment in its history: a new 15,000 bph poultry processing plant in Nurmo mainly featuring Marel solutions. Since Marel installed Atria’s current Nurmo poultry process some 20 years ago, Atria and Marel have been long-term partners. Reijo Áijó, vice president of Atria, talks about the greenfield project which is due to be complete in 2024.

In the greenfield plant, the primary process features a highspeed Marel line with a capacity of 15,000 bph. Processing starts with ATLAS live bird handling and CAS SmoothFlow anesthetization, followed by Marel’s scalding, plucking and evisceration solutions. This includes the brand-new, revolutionary intelligent Nuova-i eviscerator, one of the world’s first ever. As for chilling, Atria has opted for advanced Marel air chilling technologies. The same goes for the cut-up and deboning lines.

Why did you decide to build a greenfield, right next to your existing plant?

“Like elsewhere around the world, poultry consumption is growing in Finland. We foresee our factory capacity being challenged in the coming years. Secondly, our current Marel line and the equipment in our poultry process date back to 2003, so they’re at the end of their life cycle, although they are still in quite good shape thanks to proper service and maintenance.”


We want to take data-driven action and control the whole process.

Reijo Áijó
Vice president of Atria

Atria Products

Who are your customers?

“Our customers operate in the Finnish retail and foodservice markets, so export has not been a big share of our sales. That’s why reacting to increasing domestic poultry consumption is the main reason for building the greenfield. But of course, once we have our 15,000 bph processing plant up and running, we will have more possibilities for the expansion of our export plans.”

What are your main end products?

“In Finland, fresh filet is the main article and I’m sure it will remain like that. The whole natural filet itself is not an important article, but when it has been cut into slices, cubes or stripes, it becomes a major seller. Compared to other markets in Europe, Finland stands out for its marinated fillets. Around 75% of products are marinated or brine salted before being put into the tray. We’re applying all those different marinades in our own processing plant.”

On the other hand, sales of thigh fillets have become quite big too in Finland. Marel’s Thigh Fillet System will certainly do well in the new Nurmo plant. “In our new factory we will have a Marel feet processing system as well but feet are for export only, they’re not sold on the domestic market. As for the giblets, they are not eaten in big volumes in Finland, they are going to pet food.”

Why did you choose ATLAS live bird handling?

“Animal welfare is a hot topic in Finland and it was one of the major reasons for choosing ATLAS. When automatically loading the birds at the farm with a catching machine, ATLAS is quite efficient and humane. It is more gentle because a SmartStack has only one compartment per layer. No need to keep repositioning the feeding conveyor as with other systems. ATLAS also lowers the cost of our logistics. We can load more birds on the trucks than with other systems, giving them even more space than before. We also expect to have a much more hygienic system as every SmartStack layer is washed separately, creating more opportunities to deep clean all surfaces.

We have very strict animal welfare rules and our veterinarians follow them precisely. They will see that the CAS SmoothFlow system, when combined with ATLAS, is probably the most humane system, leaving broilers in their trays and guiding them smoothly through the chambers.”

Atria Chicken Cuts

What do you expect from the IMPAQT software package?

“We want our processes to be more data-driven than before. We expect IMPAQT will be a big help with maintenance, at the same time helping improve evisceration and bird quality. We have high expectations, for example, of how hygienic the process can be. We’re also keen on having the information in real-time, so we can react immediately if something is wrong. Until now, we can only see that yesterday or during the last two weeks, something was wrong. We might be forced into an extensive overhaul without knowing the exact reason for the issue. It will be a big step if we can immediately pinpoint the reason with IMPAQT. We really look forward to seeing what we can gain from that.”

Why do you have multiple weighing and assessment systems such as IRIS and SmartWeigher?

The aim is to have good process control at all times. By weighing and assessing the products at different points in the line, we can see how well our process is performing from start to end. By using data from IRIS and SmartWeigher, we can also anticipate customer orders at an early stage and distribute products accordingly. We want to be able to react appropriately if results deviate from our predictions. We want to take data-driven action and control the whole process. For example, fillet yield figures are very important for us. We really have to know what is happening in the various process steps and what is affecting the yield.

Is sustainability a strong theme in Finland and for Atria?

“Yes, we have our own sustainability policy and that affects everything in the project. We ask our suppliers for the building to act sustainably. We try to find the most environment-friendly ways to produce. Energy use, ventilation and most of all, heat recovery are major themes. In a processing plant, many machines, compressors and other equipment produce heat. We also have to take heat out of our cold rooms. All this heat is reused, an example being warming up water for washing.”

Water use is also part of our sustainable policy. Although we have plenty of water available, we want to reduce the amount. We have our own water treatment plant, where we use a combination of technologies to clean wastewater. Then it goes to the community water provision where final treatment is done.

It will be a big step if we can immediately pinpoint the reason with IMPAQT.

Reijo Áijó
Vice president of Atria

About Atria

Atria is a leading food company in Northern Europe. The Group’s net sales exceed EUR 1.5 billion, and it employs about 4,440 people. The operations are divided into three business areas: Atria Finland, Atria Sweden and Atria Estonia & Denmark. Atria’s strategic goal is to become the winning northern European food company. Renewal of the company’s operations and offerings, profitable growth and the increase of ownership value support the three pillars of Atria’s operations and culture: commercial expertise, efficient functioning and responsible and sustainable values.

Company website: atria.com

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