A changing poultry market in the Middle East

A shift to air chilled products and fixed-weight packs


Influenced by an overall changing world market, the Middle East poultry industry needs to cope with a shifting market too. Consumers are looking for small, ready-to-cook poultry portions and so poultry processors have to adapt to this new demand. They can respond by making use of advanced chilling techniques, advanced giblet harvesting and batching solutions, all made possible by Marel.

The world population is growing and at the same time urbanizing. It is a great challenge to feed all people in the cities around the world, who have more and more specific demands about the food they eat. Consumers want to know about the origin of their food; preferably it is their own region. They want to have the highest quality and secure the highest food safety, coming from sources they can trust. Therefore, markets are profoundly changing, and food producers who are aware of that, will change their product portfolio accordingly.

When talking poultry in the Arabian and East-African markets, consumers are moving away from the traditional (frozen) whole chicken product. Looking for convenience, they tend to buy increasingly more cut-up chicken pieces in a tray, ready to cook. Consumers appreciate fixed-weight portions in retail packages, which make it easier to prepare a meal at home.

Poultry processors will have to bear this in mind when distributing their products to the whole product line or to the cut-up line. They’ll have to match production with market demand.

A shift to air chilling

A shift from water chilling to air chilling can also be noticed in the Middle East and East Africa. The air chilling process will largely determine the appearance of the end product, its shelf life and the weight of product available for sale. The advanced air chilling technologies of Marel Poultry lead to minimal yield loss, 0.5% at maximum, which is the highest performance in the market. 

The challenge is to bring the deep core breast temperature to 4° C, or even 2° C if required, without freezing thin portions such as neck skin and wing tips. Technology is also applied to avoid discoloration and brown dry-in spots. 

Marel’s air chilling tunnels focus on the highest hygiene levels, e.g. by preventing products from dripping on one another, and are easy to clean.

Halal Butcher

Giblets are valuable too!

There’s definitely a market for giblets in the Middle East and East Africa. Chicken livers, gizzards and hearts are sold as separate products and therefore it is useful to careful process these products. Marel Poultry supplies the appropriate systems and solutions to automate the giblet harvesting processes with optimum yield, quality and hygiene, securing food safety.

One important component in the process is the separate viscera pack shackle of the Nuova evisceration machine, which holds the intestines away from the edible giblets and correctly positions the pack for each processing stage. The first automated step is the removal of intestine and gall bladder. Now giblet harvesting can be done much more hygienically, optimizing the shelf life of what can be sensible products.

Fixed-weight packing

Retail products have to be carefully weighed, graded and batched to create attractive and equal trays in the shop. When producing whole chickens only, these process steps don’t apply. Becoming a fixed-weight retail-packed market, however, the Middle East has to take high-quality product presentation into account. Processors in this area can benefit from Marel Poultry’s wide variety of solutions for getting the highest quality products in the highest quality trays, such as MultiHead Weighers, SmartLine Graders and RoboBatchers.


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