Portioning applications for deboned leg meat

Leg meat portion cutting for western markets


Uses for portioned deboned leg meat are currently few and far between in the western world. The market is, however, opening up. Consumers and producers are willing to try new kinds of products. That it no longer makes sense to freeze and ship the majority of legs to Africa or Asia is now widely understood.

There’s a lot more value to be added to leg products. Marel Poultry offers many options for making tasty deboned leg and thigh meat products, starting with proper portioning. Morten Dalqvist, Marel Product Manager Portioning, explains how different types of fast food can be developed.

“Many people perceive deboned leg meat as the chicken’s tastiest part. It is, therefore, most suitable as raw material for creating strips, bites, popcorn, cubes for skewers, fixed-weight nuggets and steak for burgers. In the western world, however, the demand for leg meat is at its highest only during the barbecue season when bone-in legs, drums and thighs are grilled on a larger scale. At other times, consumers are more reluctant to buy leg meat. So we need to stimulate leg product consumption all year round.”

New blockbusters

“What if we can find new ways to further increase the value of leg meat? What if we can make attractive tasty and healthy fast food products from tasty leg meat? What if we can boost the western purchase volumes of leg meat?” asks Morten Dalqvist. “In Asia, the market already values these kinds of products highly. The most popular fast food products, such as burgers, strips and cubes, are made from boneless leg meat, not from breast fillets. Given the fact that fast food chains in the western market are always looking for new blockbusters, I don’t see any obstacles to making this a success in Europe too.”

Achieving high yield

Morten Dalqvist continues, “It is vitally important that yields are high when legs are processed. Otherwise, processors might not see any reason to change their approach.” Marel Poultry offers lines for these processes which combine high capacity with very high yield. Higher leg meat yields also benefit and add value to the overall process.

Portioning lines

Setting up a portioning line for deboned thigh and leg meat can be done in many ways. A system can consist of a single portion cutter but can also grow into a full scale solution integrated into the end of the deboning line. The customer requirements will determine the exact configuration and setup of the line. Once portioned and optionally flattened in a Platino, products can pass through Marel coating equipment. An attractive breadcrumb or tempura coating will add even more value. Such leg end products look good and taste even better!

Crack the market

It’s a pity that until now delicatessen products made from deboned and portioned leg meat are available to Asian consumers only. “In Asia 85% of steaks and chicken burgers are already being made from leg meat. Although thigh steaks are still a niche product in Europe, we are confident that we can crack this market easily,” concludes Morten Dalqvist.

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