Today’s trends in poultry portioning

More product variation, offcut upgrading and reducing labor


As broiler weights are increasing, the parts cut from them are getting bigger too. Such parts need cutting or slicing into accurately calibrated portions. In many markets labor is becoming scarce and increasingly expensive, thereby encouraging automation. Consumers on the other hand are looking for an ever wider range of boneless, tasty, easy to handle value-added products.

Attractive products

First and foremost, producers are looking to respond to customer demand by creating the most attractive products. Presentation should be natural with a slanted natural cut. Portioned products such as butterflies, fillets, tenders, strips, dices, nuggets, and popcorn should be neatly trimmed and should look good in a tray pack or on a plate. All products must be suitable for sale in supermarkets, the retail trade, restaurants and fast food outlets. They must be suitable for use in further processed products too.

Food safety

These days, food safety is a major concern for poultry processors. Filleted and portioned products must be completely bone-free. Our SensorX is one of the most reliable solutions to ensure this. Producers must also deal with a shortage of labor to do the various jobs. For a more efficient and productive process, cutting, slicing, and portioning operations need to be done both more speedily and with a high degree of automation.


The least trimming and give-away

Processing capacities are increasing all the while and products often have to be cut to a fixed weight and/or shape. To maintain a profitable process, any automatic equipment must do its job extremely accurately, so that the need for manual trimming and any giveaway are kept to an absolute minimum.


Marel’s latest developments in terms of portioning are the Automated Nugget Line, ‘Robot with a Knife’ and I-Cut 122 TrimSort. Using this Marel equipment, poultry processors are now able to supply their customers with an increasingly wide range of attractive premium boneless products, produced accurately to a fixed weight and shape. Additionally, the ability to process trim from these products automatically into other value-added products cuts expensive giveaway to an absolute minimum. Processors will also be able to lift throughputs and reduce labor, a truly win-win situation.

Intelligent fillet batching

Robot with a Knife’ is an excellent example of combining individual pieces of equipment, so that each piece takes account of the other’s performance. The robot consists of an I-Cut 122 machine and a RoboBatcher Flex. This integrated solution oversees all operations from cutting through batching to styled packing. The two systems work perfectly together to bring users the highest yields and the lowest giveaway. Instead of cutting an average fixed weight, the pro-active system calculates and makes intelligent decisions by real-time comparing incoming product weight and the order recipes. The robot uses the customer's order requirements to cut only what's really needed. If the fillet, as it is, complies with a recipe, it will pass through without any cutting. Cutting only occurs if this is the only way for the fillet to fit into a recipe. In that case, the I-Cut 122 will portion the fillet to the required weight, leaving a valuable offcut piece to be utilized for nuggets or strips. In this way, the Robot with a Knife adds value to off-cuts, instead of giving away the overweight.

I-Cut 122 Trimsort Top Bottom Belts

Automated Nugget Line

Marel's Automated Nugget Line is an automated solution developed to make nugget portioning less dependent on manual labor. The system consists of two I-Cut 122 machines, SpeedSort, SingleFeed and StripPositioner. Cube cutting is usually very labor-intensive. The Automated Nugget Line, however, does everything fully automatically. Manual operators are needed for quality control only. The line will produce whole muscle nuggets cut uniformly to each customer’s fixed weight and dimensions. Giveaway is amongst the lowest in the market with minimal labor.

I-Cut 122 TrimSort

Marel’s answer to bigger products is the I-Cut122 TrimSort. As more meat is being cut off, these off-cuts, which in the past often ended up as low value mince, can now be upgraded and sold for a good price.

The I-Cut 122 TrimSort is an integrated, fully synchronized cutting and trim reject process within a compact frame. This two-in-one solution saves considerable space. Two conveyor belts, installed immediately behind the knife blade, open and close in the blink of an eye to separate the main product from trim. Trim is then caught by belts located lower down in the machine and conveyed to downstream processes.

The system’s extremely fast performance allows the smallest amount of trim to be cut off, down to pieces of 5 grams. Portion cutting will therefore be able to be used for more products than ever before, products such as breast fillet, tenderloin, thigh fillet or leg meat.

The risk of offcuts staying attached to the fillets is virtually non-existent. Unnecessary give-away is therefore avoided. TrimSort will also save labor. The equipment’s accuracy is such that no operators at all will be needed to check whether trim has been correctly rejected.


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