Belki minds the Malines

19 May 2017

Steven Jespers of Belgium processor Belki at Marel Poultry in BoxmeerSander de Bruijn (Marel Poultry Area Sales Manager) and Steven Jespers (Belki General Manager)

Belki, a poultry processor based in Aalst in Belgium, recently decided to upgrade and rehouse its existing filleting lines in a completely new hall. Marel Poultry is helping design solutions which suit Belki’s own particular processing needs best.

People have been willing to pay more for these products for over 30 years.
- Steven Jespers, General Manager Belki

Two years ago, Belki installed a new Stork ACM-NT cut-up line. Earlier this year, the company extended and modernized its eviscerating department by installing several new Stork Nuova back end systems, such as the Final Inspection Machine, the Neck Skin Trimmer and the Inside/Outside Washer. Steven Jespers, Belki General Manager says: “Our evisceration department can successfully process a wide range of chicken breeds, even slow growers such as the Malines, which are about 15 cm longer than regular broilers. Adjusting settings for incoming flock range is easy with Nuova.”


The Malines is a valuable local breed much in demand from Belgian consumers. Belki is proud to have registered the Malines as an official “regional product”. Steven Jespers continues: “The Malines grows for 81 days, making it an expensive product. It’s a niche market, for Belgium only, and we sell mainly whole products to gourmet restaurants. The taste is definitely different and in Belgium people have been willing to pay more for these products for some 30 years now.”

Of the 410,000 weekly processed chickens at Belki, 12,000 are Malines, 15,000 Cordon d’Or (a quality corn-fed chicken) and 33,000 organic free range 70-day chicken sold under the Roi des Champs brand. The others are standard broilers.

Four filleting lines

Belki’s new production hall will be a filleting, packing and freezing department. Four existing filleting lines move to this new location; the only manual line will be automated. To achieve this, a Wishbone Remover and a Fillet Separator will be added to the Stork AMF breast cap filleting line. When the hall becomes operational, line speed will increase from 9,000 to 10,500 bph (150 to 175bpm).

Grading and packing

Two of the four filleting lines feed a Marel Custom Grader, twin lane/center bin execution. This flexible grader with eight outputs can handle bulk and fixed weight outputs simultaneously. The grader’s flippers move fixed weight products to the center conveyor belt and divert products which don’t fit the current job to the outer bulk bins. This ensures maximum product utilization with minimal give-away.

Belki cut-up department

After the grader, operators at the Paceline tray packing conveyor manually pack fixed weight batches onto trays. Tray and batch conveyors run synchronized side by side, making it possible to keep the packing flow inline. Trays can be composed by different operators, who each put one or two pieces from the batch into the tray running alongside.


The other two filleting lines proceed to bulk weighing stations, as does an optional fifth line which, manually operated, crosses the other four lines.

Belki’s bulk products are mainly for export. These are mostly bone-in products, whereas filleted and whole products stay in Belgium.


“As products are getting heavier, we were looking for solutions to make convenience products. A Marel SmartSplitter will produce minute steaks, a popular product in Belgium,” says Steven Jespers. When specific orders for minute steaks come in, a pallet of fillets or butterflies can be manually unloaded onto the SmartSplitter to be sliced horizontally.

Innova and SystemFlex

All jobs done on the Custom Grader are set up and monitored in the control room using Innova food processing software. The three bulk weighing stations with M2200 controllers are also connected to Innova. SystemFlex logistic conveyor systems transport all products internally in the new filleting hall.

About Belki

Belki NV, BelgiumFor nearly 25 years Belki NV has been a leading poultry processing company with a unique range of products. It sits in the top segment of the Belgian retail market and in the poultry wholesale sector in Benelux and France. Together with its 240 enthusiastic employees, Belki has a turnover of approximately 80 million euros. Belki is part of the family-owned group Joosen-Invest (Turnhout), active in livestock and fish feed, flour mill, fish farming (Belgium Royal Caviar) and poultry processing.

“We are happy to have many different customers, in retail as well as in food service. 25% of our products are exported to Luxemburg, the Netherlands and France. In Belgium, our special breeds represent about 20% of our sales,” says Steven Jespers.