Damate’s new plant – a benchmark for turkey processing

Russian turkey processor doubles output to respond to market change

Damate Turkey Processing Russia Building

The Damate Group, largest producer of turkey meat in Russia, now operates from a completely new processing plant. This greenfield project, designed and equipped by Marel, is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Processing toms and hens at 3,000 tph, it boasts the very latest technologies in plucking, chilling and process logistics, setting a new benchmark for the industry. An interview follows with Marat Khayrov, vice-president of Ruskontraktor, the subsidiary that builds and creates all projects for the Damate Group.

Primary processing

A GP container system supplies live birds. Turkeys are shackled live and stunned in a Marel high frequency electrical stunner, allowing products to be sold halal – an important issue for many of Damate’s customers. Right behind the SAT counterflow scalder units, Damate uses a customized plucking configuration, including two Counter-Rotating-T attack pluckers. This technology is particularly suitable for turkeys. It provides an optimum pluck with fewer machines and lower energy costs.

Damate has chosen to eviscerate semi-automatically. Marel’s unique three-point suspension presents products to operators at a convenient height and at the correct angle. The result is better ergonomics and improved hygiene. Post EV operations such as neck cracking, neck deskinning, tendon pulling, head cutting and inside/outside washing are done automatically using Marel’s poultry equipment.

Absolute control of chilling

The new Damate plant features a shock pre-chill stage followed by a longer maturation chilling stage. Before chilling, a SmartWeigher records the weight of each individual product for use and traceability later in the process. The aim of the shock pre-chill phase is to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria on product surfaces. Cold air circulates at a specified volume and velocity and spray cabinets apply a thin film of moisture to products. This Aqua Film Control technique minimizes yield loss. ChillingControl has been installed as well, the only solution on the market which dynamically adjusts the chilling tunnel settings to the load being handled.

Indilight Packs

Damate Group offers a wide range of about 300 turkey products, sold in supermarkets under the ‘Indilight’ brand

Core temperature

“Heavy” products, leaving the shock pre-chiller, are released onto one conveyor belt, “light” products onto the other. To ensure equal distribution, intelligent software assigns products to whichever conveyor needs them. Products are rehung manually by both legs to multi-shackles, each holding twelve products, before entering the maturation chill stage. Products keep their shape, do not touch each other and cold air can circulate freely around them. In this way, a lot more products can be chilled simultaneously. Marel Innova software allocates each product to a defined position in one of the five maturation cells. This allows lighter and heavier product to be chilled at the same time. It knows the whereabouts of heavy and light flocks in the maturation tunnel, whether they are males or females and whether they are already sufficiently chilled and can leave the tunnel. Products stay in the second phase for six to eight hours, after which the agreed core temperature is guaranteed.

More meat available

Damate cuts up its products using two ACM-T turkey cut-up systems; one for “heavy” and one for “light” products. Two SmartWeighers direct products, based on weight, to the correct cut-up system and also provide input weights for real-time yield control. Products are cut into front halves, back piece, thighs and drumsticks. Front halves proceed to two FHF-XT deboning lines that cut off wings and debone breasts. As 22 kg turkeys are huge, valuable meat is available on various parts of the carcass. That’s why the FHF-XT systems perform the J-cut near the shoulder to harvest scapula meat. They also segment wings into three parts.


Marel SystemFlex conveyors transport the breast fillets to a Marel dual lane grader, which batches them into bulk packs or transfers them to trimming stations, where Damate manually cuts strips, schnitzels, stroganoff and azu. Marel MultiHead Weighers distribute azu cubes to fixed-weight trays. Marel Weigh Price Labelers and CheckWeighers complete the end-of-line process.

Damate Tutkey Chilling

The market in Russia for turkey was developing well and commercial priorities had changed a lot


“The market in Russia for turkey was developing well and commercial priorities had changed a lot. So we decided we needed to do something completely new to maintain and improve our position in the market. We realized that reconstruction of the existing line would be quite challenging, as we wanted to keep producing and fulfilling orders. So we decided to build a new plant.”


“Russian retailers started asking for fixed-weight products. This really affects the entire secondary processing in terms of weighing, batching, grading and slicing. To fulfill the various orders we would be receiving, we needed more lines with more flexibility, which was only feasible in a new plant.“


“We needed more automated solutions. Choosing Marel ,was based on our desire to have one contractor for all processes, primary, chilling, secondary, etc. Furthermore, labeling and the software connection to production was very important. In our first plant, we did it all by ourselves, but that needed to be improved. Marel could solve these issues too.”


“We have two different shifts: slaughtering, killing and cooling takes place overnight from 9:00 PM to 9:00 AM. The cut-up area starts work at 8:00 AM and ends at 8:00 PM. Because retailers have a very specific timing for ordering and delivery, this schedule was our top priority when designing the plant. We needed to narrow down delivery times as much as possible. We process toms with an average live weight of 22 kg and hens with 11 kg weight. Toms and hens are processed separately, both at the same line speed of 3,000 tph.”


“Turkey necks are popular with Russian consumers. Neck products might not be eaten elsewhere, but if you know how to cook them, they form quite an interesting meal. They can be oven baked or roasted, with garlic. They taste like oxtail, quite simply a delicious meal! Bone-in turkey neck is an ingredient in a popular Russian soup. Neck meat is also ideally suited for further processing into burgers, nuggets and other fast food products. To chill necks, we have invested in a dedicated immersion chilling concept and are looking at further neck deboning systems.”


“Giblets, hearts, gizzards and livers are common products for Russian customers, mostly cooked at home. We sell pretty much all of them. They are weighed and batched in a Marel MultiHead Weigher and then tray sealed. The packages look exactly the same as our other products using the same trays and labels.”


“We have two control rooms on the second floor of our plant, driven by Marel Innova production control software. One supervises primary processing from GP live bird handling up to the maturation tunnel. The other manages secondary processing and lets us choose the birds we need to get from the chilling tunnel to satisfy current orders. With Innova, fine-tuning our line, controlling our process and our overall database will be much more straightforward than before when we were using different suppliers. Now we can manage the entire process, from start to finish and can monitor everything on one single software platform.”

Damate People Ruskontraktor

The Damate Group is an agricultural holding company currently employing over 3,500 people across Russia

About Damate

The Damate Group is an agricultural holding company currently employing over 3,500 people across Russia. “Like every poultry company in Russia, we are completely vertically integrated and have our own feed mills, hatcheries, farms and processing plants,” says Marat Khayrov. Damate aims to meet growing demand by doubling its production of turkey meat over the next two years. This will eventually reach 155,000 tons per annum, adding 2,000 jobs. The new plant is located in Nizhne Lomov, 600 km South-East of Moscow.


Damate Group offers a wide range of about 300 turkey products, sold in supermarkets under the ‘Indilight’ brand. “Most of our sales are retail, the rest is bulk products and for restaurants. Our location allows us to cover the entire European part of Russia within a range of 800 kilometers. We are targeting major cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg. That’s our main market. At the moment, export to the Middle East, Africa and Asia is about 5% of our throughput. We are getting ready to increase that. Nearly all our products are cut up, of which up to 50% is sold on fixed-weight trays. We don’t do any whole bird sales, as these would be too expensive for the Russian market.”


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