Costco partner Lincoln Premium Poultry opens its milestone facility

CostCo opening 2019.jpg

On Saturday 19 October 2019, Lincoln Premium Poultry, the exclusive supplier of poultry products to US wholesaler Costco opened its world-class processing facility in Fremont, Nebraska USA.

The plant is owned by Costco and is among the most advanced in the world, equipped throughout with high-tech full-line solutions from Marel, all of which are interconnected with software ensuring full traceability from live bird to finished packs. High-capacity lines will allow Lincoln Premium Poultry to process two million chickens a week and supply Costco with premium quality poultry products including for its popular rotisserie selection.

Largest Marel project to date

The 360,000 square-foot Lincoln Premium Poultry (LPP) facility is among the most technologically advanced in the world and marks Marel’s largest project to date. It is equipped with full-line solutions that will process chicken from live bird to finished consumer packs, including three parallel processing lines with a capacity of 8,400 birds per hour, allowing LPP to process two million birds per week or about 420 birds per minute across the three lines.

The plant will supply premium poultry products including for the rotisserie selection to Costco, which is the owner and exclusive customer of Lincoln Premium Poultry.

With state-of-the-art technology, the project transforms the US poultry processing market standards and will serve as a reference plant for Marel to support continued sales.

Walt Shafer, Chief Operating Officer at Lincoln Premium Poultry:

“Lincoln Premium Poultry, Costco and Marel have been in a three-way partnership for several years now. The partnership has been a big part of the success of Lincoln Premium Poultry. We met with Marel right from the beginning when we started exploring the options of building a new facility and gained insight into the possibilities of Marel solutions. With the successful installation of the new plant, we strive to deliver excellent poultry products at the right cost and quality while meeting the highest standards of animal welfare as well as social and environmental responsibility. Marel is an excellent fit, and the equipment and software in the plant allow us to meet and exceed expectations made by customers and consumers.“

World-class technology to maximize yields and minimize waste

With the latest technology including Marel Thigh Filleting System, AMF-i breast filleting system, and in-line air chilling, LPP will raise yields and quality while reducing waste in its production, making an important contribution towards more sustainable poultry production. In the distribution process, SmartWeigher and IRIS vision grading ensure highly accurate weighing at high speed and optimal use of each bird. SensorX bone- and contaminant detection systems will ensure food safety of its products, while ATLAS and CAS SmoothFlow systems for live bird handling and anesthetization raise animal welfare standards to the highest in the industry. The plant also includes the latest RoboBatcher technology, making it the first in the USA to adopt the automated robot system for batching and styling of poultry fillets into trays.

Traceability from farm to fork

Marel’s Innova Food Processing Software connects all equipment and processes, playing a vital role in giving managers a full overview to monitor, control and optimize production. The software provides LPP with full traceability throughout the plant and connects with infeed of supplies so that products can be traced from farm to fork. 

Opening celebrated by Lincoln Premium Poultry, Marel and partners

At the occasion, Walt Shafer Chief Operating Officer of LPP noted, “what you see here is a world-class poultry complex. After spending years in poultry, I couldn’t think of a better outcome than what we’ve built here in Nebraska.” Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek noted in his speech at the opening ceremony, “we try to be state-of-the-art in everything we do, and that’s what we did here in Freemont.”

The opening ceremony was attended by a number of guests form senior management of LPP and Costco including Bill Crider CEO of LPP, Walt Shafer Chief Operating Officer of LPP, Craig Jelinek CEO of Costco, and Jeff Lyons Senior Vice President of Merchandising at Costco.

On behalf of Marel, Árni Oddur Thórdarson CEO, Árni Sigurdsson Executive Vice President of Strategy, Roger Claessens Executive Vice President of Marel Poultry, Jan Kuhlmann President of North America region, and Larry Campbell Vice President of Sales for Marel Poultry USA were in attendance. Other guests included Pete Ricketts Governor of Nebraska, and Scott Gatzchman Mayor of Freemont Nebraska as well as local farmers, suppliers and other key partners in the project.

Costco Opening Usa October 2019

Positive ripple effects on the local community

Centrally located in the USA, Nebraska serves as a strategic central point for Costco to base its operations. The region is the base of significant soya and corn production, which is an important ingredient to chicken farming.

The new LPP processing plant has drawn investment in wider agricultural activities including crop and bird farming, logistics and distribution services, boosting the local economy and providing new jobs in the community. By having suppliers close by, Lincoln Premium Poultry and Costco together with the wider industry make a contribution to more sustainable food production by reducing carbon footprint from transportation.

In partnership from start to finish

“We are very proud to be the exclusive partner of Lincoln Premium Poultry in this outstanding project,” says Roger Claessens, Executive Vice President of Marel Poultry. “In close partnership with LPP and Costco, we have addressed challenges in poultry processing by designing and installing a full-line solution that incorporates our latest technologies and software with the highest level of automation. The Marel team is incredibly proud to see the project come to life having worked closely with our customer on the project over the past five years to transform their plant with a focus on yields, sustainability, quality and traceability. With the plant now in operation, we have set new standards in poultry processing in the US.”

Premium rotisserie chickens

The Lincoln Premium Poultry plant is now ready to start supplying Costco stores nationwide with high-quality products including for Costco’s rotisserie selection. Around 40% of the production is dedicated to roast chicken products which include Costco’s iconic $4.99 whole roast chicken, and among other products are wings and drumsticks, and deboned breasts, and thigh meat.

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