Hill Group aims to transform the chicken market

First industrial poultry processing plant in Tanzania

Hill Group EV People

Back in 2014, Tanzanian entrepreneur Hillary Shoo, well-known for his diverse portfolio, formulated plans to establish a greenfield poultry processing plant. His aim was to transform the way chicken are processed in Tanzania, by industrializing the country’s poultry sector and completing Hill Group’s vertical integration. He found support for this project at Marel, and both companies worked together to build the factory from the ground up. It was commissioned in July 2023.

Hillary Shoo tells how he entered the poultry processing business, “In 2014, I met Marel for the first time, at the IPPE in Atlanta. Back then I already had the idea of building a poultry processing plant. I was comparing companies and the first thing that impressed me about Marel was their communications. Marel was the only company to come up with quick replies to my questions. They put a project manager on my job, who took me through all the various stages. This was very valuable, as I was completely new to the business. For instance, I didn’t know that I also had to deal with wastewater and offal."

Hill Group Plucker

Turnkey project

The Hill Group processing plant has been operational in Dar es Salaam since July 2023. It is the successful result of the close connection between Marel’s dedicated project team and Hillary Shoo, who was personally involved in every detail throughout the entire process. “Marel supported us in completing our building and ensuring the necessary utilities were in place, making it a turnkey project. We have been working hand in hand to make sure that machinery can be connected properly and that the building is completely ready to receive the processing line. The Marel team also advised us to create a different climate in the receiving area. Marel was taking us all the way, from the foundations for the building right through to laying floors and installing the steel structures."

The poultry market in Tanzania

The population of Tanzania is about 63 million people and growing fast. As the standard of living improves, people are eating more chicken. At any social event, a wedding or whatever, there has to be chicken. Until now, the wet market has largely dominated in Tanzania. Hillary Shoo says, “No one has been processing chicken industrially as we do. Hill Group is one of the few fully automated poultry plants in East Africa.

Hill Group Truck People

From left to right: Edna Shoo (Hill Group), Edgar Shoo (Hill Group), Hillary Shoo (Hill Group) and Lambert Rutten (Marel)

No-compromise and affordable

Restaurants will be important customers for us, because they no longer want to buy their chicken meat in wet markets. But we won’t target them specifically. We are aiming at everyone and want to reach all markets. We will make sure that chicken meat is affordable for people on low incomes, just like we did in the water bottle business. We won’t, however, compromise on quality, so BBQ stalls in the street, supermarkets, restaurants as well as five-star hotels, they can all sell our products. I’m pretty sure that in future, if people in Tanzania ask which chicken to buy, the answer will be Hill Chicken.”

3,000 to 6,000 capacity

At Hill Group’s greenfield, processing capacity starts at 3,000 bph [50 bpm], although the line has been prepared for an upgrade to 6,000 bph [100 bpm]. At the start of the process, floor scales connected to Innova weigh incoming live birds. After electrical stunning, killing is done manually, as production is 100% halal. Although the Tanzanian population is both Christian and Muslim, there’s no product segregation in the marketplace. Scalding and plucking are also done using Marel equipment. After the combined VOC vent cutter and opening machine, the automated evisceration line features a Nuova eviscerator with a separate pack line for manual harvesting. The eviscerator runs with 8 units at a 12” pitch. Expanding to 16 units for 6,000 bph is an easy job and doesn’t require a big investment.

Hill Group Evisceration

If people in Tanzania ask which chicken to buy, the answer will be just Hill Chicken.

Hillary Shoo
Managing Director of Hill Group

Whole birds or cut-up

Feet are removed from shackles in an area reserved for future automated processing. In Tanzania, chicken feet are sold for human consumption along with livers, gizzards, and other giblets. Hill Group processes giblets manually, although this department has been prepared for future automation. After evisceration, products are chilled in a water chiller. This is followed by a Compact Grader, to select the products by weight. They can go either to a

 for cut-up or be packed as whole birds. Around 70% of the products are sold whole, the 30% cut chicken parts being sold mostly in supermarkets. For the delivery of products, Hill Group has its own fleet of trucks. The distribution focuses mainly on major urban areas such as Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha, Morogoro and Dodoma.

Hill Group Building

About Hill Group

Hillary Shoo started the company in 1997, right after leaving university, selling poultry feed in a shop in Mwenge, Dar es Salaam. By 1998 he had already established his first feed mill, introducing Hill Feeds, and later Salibaba Pellets, producing animal feed under his own brand. Apart from animal feed, the fast-growing Hill Group started to fill gaps in the market, in 2008 beginning the manufacture of large 25-50 kg polypropylene woven packaging bags in 2008. Using its experience with polymers, Hill Group entered the packaged drinking water market, bottling local drinking water. Since starting production in 2018, the capacity of Hill Water has risen to 48,000 0.5-liter bottles. These are produced entirely in-house from bottle to cap.


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