Gastronomic France is known for its wide range of slow-growing chicken breeds with more than twelve of them currently processed by Sofral. In the processing plant, live supply, stunning, scalding and plucking are “universally” for all breeds. In the evisceration department, however, things are different.
Extensive range of birds
The Rémi Ramon plant in Javron specializes in the processing of regular broilers. The Sofral plant in Lassay was modernized in 2008 and from that moment was able to increase and diversify production to an even greater extent than before.
Among the products processed are top notch and Label Rouge birds, ranging from Duc de Mayenne free-range chicken (white, black and yellow), farmed guinea fowl under the Duchesse de Mayenne brand and certified products such as “3 Chateaux” chicken. In addition, the Sofral plant processes broilers, layers, capons, hens, cockerels, young cockerels and even small turkeys. Most products are distributed as whole birds; only a small percentage is cut up.
In France, in particular, a “polyvalent” process is one that can cope with a wide variety of breeds of the same poultry type, in our case chicken. Evisceration, more than any other process, poses the biggest challenge in a polyvalent operation. To ensure precise positioning and correct function, the department’s carrousel machines have to adapt each time the shape, size and proportions of the incoming birds change.
Sofral was looking for a way to put together the ideal polyvalent evisceration setup, taking into account all particular aspects of processing the different breeds. That’s where Marel Poultry came in, supplying an all-new evisceration set-up. It now consists of the very latest carrousel machines, such as a Marel Vent Cutter, Nuova eviscerator, Final Inspection Machine and Inside/Outside Washer.
Polyvalent evisceration requires extra attention and supervision. Evisceration machinery has been customized for the task and machines can be set individually to handle a wide variety of breeds.
Line managers also need additional training, as machines allow for more adjustment than usual. As the number of birds per flock can vary widely, adjustments should be quick and easy to carry out. Last but not least, the settings should be replicable, as they may have to be changed up to six times a day.
Dominique Ramon, one of the two owners of Rémi Ramon, says, “Our reason for choosing Marel Poultry is our trust in the company, together with our longstanding relationship. We have been loyal to Marel Poultry for over thirty years and almost exclusively to Stork equipment.
The fact that Marel has a very well established organization in France with a very good reputation was also important for us. Thanks to the support received from Marel Poultry, we have been able to make a big step forward in improving our operations. It has become a lot easier to manage our polyvalent process.
Marel may be well-known for its high-speed processing of broilers, but we now know that Stork systems are also highly capable of processing many different chicken breeds on a single ‘polyvalent’ line.”
Les Volailles Rémi Ramon offers a wide variety of fresh and frozen poultry. The Sofral plant sells its products mainly to traditional customers such as hospitals, schools, retailers and restaurants. France is a gastronomic country, with consumers willing to pay more – up to triple the price of regular broiler meat – for a special (often regional) chicken with its own characteristic taste.
Rémi Ramon exports 20% of its production to markets such as Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, Japan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and West Africa.
“We are the third generation,” explains Benoît Ramon, who runs Les Volailles Rémi Ramon with his brother Dominique. “It was our grandfather, Vital Ramon, who started selling butter and eggs in Javron-Les-Chapelles. Our father, Rémi, took over the company in 1958. A few years later, with only the egg business left, he created a small slaughterhouse, also in Javron. Today, our company owns two processing plants and produces only poultry.”
The current headquarters of Rémi Ramon is the 22,000 m² (236,806 ft²) processing plant in Javron. The Sofral plant in Lassay-Les-Châteaux (at 12 km/7.4 miles distance) was acquired in 1983 and completely redeveloped in 2008 into a 7,000 m² (75,347 ft²) production facility. In total, the company employs some 350 people.
“We are a 100% family company, which is rare in our profession,” says Dominique Ramon. “Today in France, there are many large conglomerates and cooperatives. We are one of the few independent processing plants and the only one of this size.”