Lincoln Premium Poultry opens milestone facility

Exclusive Marel project in Fremont, Nebraska USA


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. The plant is among the most technologically advanced in the world, equipped throughout with high-tech full-line solutions from Marel. Three parallel processing lines allow Lincoln Premium Poultry to process two million chickens a week.

The 360,000 square-foot Lincoln Premium Poultry (LPP) facility is almost exclusively equipped with Marel solutions that will process chicken from live bird to finished consumer packs. Three parallel lines each have a capacity of 8,400 bph [140 bpm]. They feature three identical live supply, stunning, defeathering, evisceration and chilling departments, including three separated Shock/Maturation air chill tunnels.

Animal well-being

When conceiving the total concept, LPP and Marel not only addressed technology and automation, but also important themes such as sustainability, animal well-being, food safety and traceability.

Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek said in his opening speech, “This highly automated plant will primarily address animal welfare concerns and increasingly difficult labor issues.” Pointing out the matter of animal well-being, he clearly referred to Marel Poultry’s ATLAS live bird handling system, combined with CAS SmoothFlow anesthetization. LPP is one of the trendsetters in North America committing itself to ensuring maintenance of the highest standards of animal well-being. A primary process using three ATLAS and three CAS SmoothFlow systems reflects this ideal.

Massive impact

Using Marel’s latest technologies, LPP will raise yields and quality while reducing waste in its production, making an important contribution towards more sustainable poultry production.

Craig Jelinek said in his speech, “We try to be state-of-the art in everything we do, and that’s what we did here in Fremont. I’ve been in lots of chicken plants, but I was like a kid in a candy store when I saw this plant today.” Costco’s CEO was clearly impressed by the massive impact of Marel’s systems and solutions in LPP’s facility. Not only the threefold configuration in primary processing from live bird reception to evisceration and chilling makes a striking impression. The data-driven distribution process using SmartWeigher and IRIS vision grading, both ensuring optimal use of each product, is just as overwhelming. The same goes for the immense cut-up, filleting and packing lines, including Thigh Filleting Systems, AMF-i breast filleting systems, SensorX bone detection systems as well as the first RoboBatcher in the USA, batching retail trays incredibly fast with the least give-away.

Walt Shafer, COO at Lincoln Premium Poultry, added in his speech, “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.”


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

Exclusive partner

“We are very proud to be the exclusive partner of Lincoln Premium Poultry in this outstanding project,” says Roger Claessens, EVP 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 really excited to see the project come to life. We have worked closely with our customer over the past five years to realize the project with a focus on yield, sustainability, quality and traceability. With the plant now in operation, we have set new standards in poultry processing in the US.”

Highest standards

Walt Schafer says, “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. We also want to ensure good treatment of both people and animals while meeting the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. Marel fits nicely with all of those expectations expressed by customers and consumers. The equipment and software in the plant allow us to meet and exceed the expectations.“

Rotisserie chickens

The Lincoln Premium Poultry plant is now fully operational and 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 including breasts, wings and deboned thigh meat as well as Costco’s iconic $4.99 roasted chicken.

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