IRIS conquers South Africa

Vision grading at Grain Field Chickens helps ensure product quality


Grain Field Chickens is the first poultry processor in South Africa to install Marel's IRIS system. Grain Field Chickens’ main reason for choosing the system was to ensure optimum product quality from live bird supply to shipped orders.

Before installing IRIS, Grain Field Chickens had to rely on “soft” guarantees on the quality of broilers supplied to the plant. The company wanted, however, to be able to measure quality more precisely to ensure that birds supplied would match its world class quality standards and objectives. It forms part of the company’s strategic Food Safety Compliance: quality starts at the farm and continues throughout the process up to the final product.

Encourage and help

In order to match demand and supply, Grain Field Chickens needed a reliable measuring tool, which the company found in Marel Poultry's IRIS. This visual assessment system gave Grain Field Chickens an effective way of basing decisions about product quality on actual data. IRIS will play a major role in the assignment and quality measurement of all broilers processed. Comprehensive reporting on product quality will encourage and help every farmer to lift quality to an even higher level, as all broiler farms respect and continuously improve animal well-being standards.

Strengthen relationships

Since contracted broiler farmers are taking full responsibility for the quality they are supplying, the new IRIS grading will strengthen the relationship between farmers and Grain Field Chickens. In the end, it’s all about supplying the best possible product. This will benefit all parties and the South African market as a whole.

Whole product

Grain Field Chickens has installed two in-line IRIS systems in its distribution line. One grades fronts; the other backs. First, IRIS determines which products are fit for the most cost-effective product mix and volumes. Products that are fit for sale as whole grillers are then released from the conveyor line. Most products will enter the cut-up lines. After being processed, they will reach QSR and retail markets, eventually landing on the consumer’s plate.

Market for chicken products

The number of middle class consumers is growing considerably in South Africa. The market for chicken end products is therefore moving towards mostly fresh products. Only two years ago IQF still dominated.

Good repertoire

Rene van der Westhuizen, Grain Field Chickens Industrial Engineer says, “IRIS allows us to create a good repertoire of products and really distinguish ourselves from other suppliers. It gives us peace of mind to know that we are offering quality products only. We now feel confident in telling our customers that our products meet their specifications exactly. At the same time, with IRIS we can produce all the volumes needed by these markets.”

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