Lifting profits down under

Marel equips Australian and New-Zealand poultry processors to meet future challenges


The kiwi is the national symbol of New Zealand; the flightless emu makes you think of Australia. In both markets another flightless bird, the chicken, has established itself as a firm national favorite. At 47 kg (103 lbs) per capita per annum Australians are amongst the most enthusiastic chicken meat eaters in the world. New Zealanders eat some 10kg (22 lbs) less, still considerably above the first world average.

There is a high market demand for whole products, portions, deboned meat and further processed items, which reflect both Anglo-Saxon eating traditions and, increasingly, flavors from around the world. In both countries, it is expected that this impressive growth of chicken consumption will continue well in the future.

The perfect matchmaker

Given the wide range of different end products offered, the trick for processors is to put their valuable raw material into its most profitable form. This means matching it as closely as possible to incoming orders from customers. To do this, Baiada, Golden Cockerel and Hazeldene’s in Australia and Tegel Foods in New Zealand have chosen Marel to supply the perfect solution which ticks all the boxes!

This solution consists of a single high-speed whole product selection line transferring products automatically to ACM-NT automatic cut-up equipment. The selection line can handle 13,500 products per hour (225 bpm) and can feed up to three ACM-NT systems. A single automatic ACM-NT cut-up system can cut up to 7,200 products per hour (120 bpm).

Accurate weighing and grading

Products from the chilling system are weighed and graded for quality on the selection line using SmartWeigher and IRIS technology. The weight and quality grade of each product will determine whether it is selected for sale whole or cut into portions. In both Australia and New Zealand, whole products, which are predominantly fresh, are sold in bags in 100g weight bands from 900g to 2500g (2 to 5,5 lbs) and above.

IRIS assesses both the front and back of each product and can pick up broken wings, red tails, bruises, stains, residual feathers and skin damage. The intelligent SmartWeigher weighing system compensates for vibrations and tares each shackle individually. Both systems have been designed to work with precise accuracy at today’s highest line speeds.

Easy-entry automation

ACM-NT does all the cuts

Products not released for sale whole are transferred automatically to ACM-NT automatic cut-up equipment. At the same time information on the weight and quality grade of each product is transferred too. At this stage it is worth noting that IRIS grades not just the whole carcass but also its seven individual portions (two wings, two thighs, two drumsticks and breast). Products are usually cut into wingette, drummette, whole wing, front half (barrels), breast, split leg, thigh and drumstick portions.

Local specialties for the grill such as Churrasco (whole product split longitudinally in two but kept together by uncut breast skin), “Maryland Supreme” (anatomic leg)”, “Chop” (thigh with backbone), “Cutlet” (anatomic thigh) and “Lovely Leg” (skinned drumsticks with removed sock bone) portions are also catered for.

These systems are able to handle the wide range of weights processed in Australia and New Zealand (1.5kg to 5kg (3.3 to 11 lbs) live weight). When two systems are installed, one system is usually set for the smaller products and the other for the bigger products. The systems also include duplicate by-passable modules for smaller and bigger products.

Centrally programmed and managed

Diverters positioned under individual modules can separate “A” grade from downgrade portions, allowing these to be collected and packed separately. These same diverters can also separate light and heavy portions of the same type. Whole bird selection and cut-up lines are Innova PDS controlled.

This allows production planning to manage minute-by-minute the packing of whole products and the cut-up operations. It also gives detailed up-to-the-minute information on what has been processed and how individual customer orders have been and are being met, presented in an operator-friendly format.

Prepared for the future

Over the past three years some ten of these systems have been sold and installed in Australia and New Zealand. The positive result seen in their operations has convinced users such as Baiada and Tegel that they made the right choice.

Recent Marel developments, such as the launch of high throughput thigh deskinning and deboning modules, will help ensure that all processors are well equipped to meet the future challenges of their growing markets.

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