Solving the QSR production puzzle

How to streamline the process of making consistent QSR products?

Puzzle QSR Portioning

Quite some poultry processors are producing chicken products for Quick Service Restaurant chains (QSR, aka fastfood restaurants) and prepared foods. The market is there and fast growing. Marel stands out when it comes to solving the puzzle of raw material preparation for QSR end products such as fillet strips, tenders, burger fillets, nuggets and cubes. The keyword in this matter is consistency: consistent size, consistent weight, consistent quality. Morten Dalqvist, product specialist for Marel Portioning, explains why processing QSR products can be challenging.

What are QSR chains looking for specifically?

“Poultry processors are asked to supply high-quality bone-free uniform products only, with a fixed length, fixed width, fixed weight and sometimes even more constraints. The QSRs demand perfect consistency, so that the end products stay uniform, even after being finished off (marinated, coated, fried) in the individual restaurants. Processors producing for QSRs, on the other hand, are aiming for higher yields, labor reduction and increased throughput.”

Which puzzle have you solved?

"For poultry processors, it can be quite a complex puzzle how to turn their non-uniform muscle meat raw material into uniform products that comply with the quality demands set by the QSR chains. It doesn’t matter if the end product is a cube, a strip, a fillet burger or a combination of these; the puzzle remains complex.
We at Marel have figured out how poultry processors can cope with raw material variations. By combining all production factors in the right way, we can always create consistent end products, regardless of the input material. In cooperation with our customers, we developed methods and processes to produce the right product at the right quality, with the highest possible yield, using a limited number of operators."

Zinger chicken fillet burger

It can be quite a puzzle how to turn non-uniform raw material into uniform QSR products.

Morten Dalqvist
Product Specialist Portioning

How does this work in practice?

“A certain QSR brand asked some of our customers to produce specific fillet burgers, which are breaded whole muscle meat products. This has become a very popular burger now, that needs to be produced in high volumes in Europe. And now other QSR brands are following this fillet burger trend. So more and more processors around the world will be asked to produce to these specifications. If they are Marel customers, they’ll benefit from our expertise and experience in supplying such QSR solutions worldwide. We designed scalable and modular systems by combining various Marel systems, such as I-Cut 122 and SmartSplitter, to transform the chicken meat raw material into the required QSR product, in this case, breaded whole muscle burgers.

We can also precisely outline the financial benefits of installing such a Marel QSR processing line – whether it is a new line, an automated manual line or a replaced existing line. We have, therefore, really solved the complex puzzle of creating QSR end products.”

Why does Marel stand out in this area?

“We have succeeded in automating many processes that are relevant for QSR production, from pre-selecting raw material to fixed-weight portioning. Gradually, we need fewer and fewer operators at the line, which is good, given the poor availability of manual labor worldwide. For processors worldwide, labor reduction is an important argument to opt for automated production of QSR products.
In addition, the return on investment is mostly a very short time, as yields will increase; machines are more capable of maintaining a consistent quality level than people, who get tired at the end of the day. Also, the speed of handling products will go up. Applying Marel’s solutions for this market will result in a considerable throughput increase, which is really needed, because QSR customers usually ask for high volumes."

Sensorx Screen With Fillet On Belt

What about food safety?

“When producing for QSR chains, our process can also inspect the deboned meat, which is part of our scope. Adding a SensorX to the QSR line will ensure food safety by detecting all bone remnants and other foreign hard materials.

When producing for QSR chains, Marel can integrate many more processes, such as fillet value optimization or Innova software process control. In this way, we offer complete control of getting the right volumes at the right place and the right time, always with food safety in mind," concludes Morten Dalqvist.

Convenience Line for poultry


After having been cut to the proper size, the products need a coating. Some QSR chains prefer to do their own coating, but it can also be done automatically by Marel solutions with extremely consistent and high-quality results.

Marel coating lines are available in 700 and 1000 mm width, for high volumes. They can include Active Flour Applicator, Active Batter Applicator, RevoBreader or RevoCrumb systems. The line can be extended to for example GoldFryer and ModularOven


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