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The international magazine for the meat and poultry industry


May~June 2017 volume 4 | issue 3 ISSN 2054-4685


there's gold in that fat


israel shows how to do turkey 365


another look at hpp's potential

C o Mmen t

My affair


love lamb. There I go, I’ve said and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Unlike 40 percent of my fellow American countrymen who have never even tasted lamb, I grew up with it thanks to a strong Balkan tradition in the family. We didn’t celebrate with ham, it was lamb. While I doubt if my father could remember a single report card I ever brought home, up until the day he died at 90 he could recall a leg of lamb I brought home from a supermarket 30-years earlier. “Gosh, Vel, I’m hungry just thinking about it,” he’d say year after year. No other lamb ever tasted as good to him as that one. (In hindsight, maybe because it was the only one he didn’t pay for). Some years back when I was teaching in Mongolia for a week, I snuck into the building’s canteen to see what we’d be eating for lunch. On a counter in the freezing cold kitchen was a freshly slaughtered sheep. Each day the carcass would get a bit smaller; each day we had a new sheep dish. Despite it being at least a yearling or older, I was in lamb heaven. In our small Greek mountain village of Vorio, come at Easter and even a complete stranger will have his full of lamb; barbecued over a special-purpose grill found at any Greek store, or peppered in garlic cloves, sprinkled with freshly picked wild oregano, wrapped in grape vine leaves, and roasted slowly in an outdoor oven, surrounded by potato chunks that cook in the fat. While in Saudi Arabia I wasn’t too enamored with the politics, they do, however, a great lamb as does Turkey and Israel. Mexico, Brazil, Italy, France, the UK – Shepard’s Pie – and even China, especially in Uyghur encampments, does amazing lamb. I haven’t been yet to Australia or New Zealand, but I can only imagine what they can do with a bag of charcoal and a chunk of lamb. And then we come to the United States. If US lamb consumption was a betting table in Las Vegas, it’d be where the suckers play. Sometimes I’m afraid that the odds are so high against the US public learning to eat lamb, that American lamb farmers and producers might be better off selling the farm and buying lottery tickets. At least then they’d have a chance to make money. American Lamb has a ‘Lamb Locater’ on its website where you enter your zip code and it will display nearby shops that sell US lamb. How confident are they that you’ll be able to find US lamb? The distance button starts at 10 miles and quickly goes up to 500 miles – that’s not a lot of confidence you’ll find it down at the local. What I can’t understand about this is US lamb is some of the best – there should be lines formed outside shops

Editor's choice


oast Packing fat rendering company was a big suprise. An intersting company with great staff page 38

by consumers demanding it. While recently in California a friend of mine, Bob Goldberg, invited me over for dinner in Oakland. He had these huge lamb chops, fried them on all sides in olive oil with a bit of garlic, salt, pepper, and we were set. Bob’s a big believer in trying to support local farmers and he goes out of his way to buy US lamb. While he doesn’t have to do 500-mile jaunts, it takes a bit of planning. So what can US lamb do? Two things which are easypeasy. The first is to give up on everyone over 35. If they haven’t eaten lamb by then, they never will. No, US lamb needs to concentrate on those 25 to 30. For this age group, forget any cut over $15, crowns or racks of lamb, and anything that requires paper frills or mint jelly. Push ground lamb –nothing is easier or better than a lamb burger – and cubed lamb meat. On these packs, stick a big coupon for Indian sauces. In the UK lamb went from something people ate at Gran’s house on Sunday afternoon, to fast and easy spicy Indian meals. It will be the same in the States – make lamb hip. The second is, the ‘story’ needs to get out better. Foodies make a bit fuss over grass-fed beef; what have lambs been eating for the last 10,000 years? Pinecones? Food strategist Mike Lee told New Zealand lamb farmers they were sitting on a gold mine – they just need to start extracting it by getting the grass-fed story out there. The same goes for US lamb. Quit moaning, build your story, and make it easy for me to buy US lamb. Velo Mitrovich @Meat_PackingPage number

May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 3


c ontent s 12





Cover story

14- America focus - US lamb A Roadmap is showing the industry the way forward. Will US lamb get aggressive and pull themselves up? chicken & Egg 12 - The last cookbox you'll need to buy SUPERIOR FARMS 20 - Californian lamb processor's new $18 million plant poultry focus 26 - How Israel markets turkey year around 30 - Automated turkey processing 35 - Poultry processing in a box rendering 38 - Fat City – there's gold at this south LA plant rendering plant 43 - Wastewater management

4 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

the future of packaging 48 - Checking the chicken is fresh 50 - Three trends to watch 52 - Need a 90 day shelf life? No problem. We look at what HPP can do for you 56 - A round up of recent packaging products world of pork expo 66 - All things pork at this massive expo also in this issue 7 - News 10 - Safety news 58 - Product news 60 - Distribution news 62 - Marketing news 64 - Weather 69 - Events

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Brazil weathers major storm


he entire world’s meat industry must be wondering what saint Brazil’s industry lights a candle to every night. Oneday Brazil’s meat industry is being rocked by a major scandal; the next day all seems to be forgiven. China has lifted a total ban on imports of Brazilian meat imposed over allegations that companies have been selling unsafe produce for years. Brazil's Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi says the move follows a "giant effort" by officials to explain the investigation into tainted food. Chile and Egypt have also lifted their bans; according to the Brazilian government. Brazil is the world's biggest red meat and poultry exporter, selling more than $12bn (£9.7bn) a year. When the story broke on a Friday, 17 March, exports fell that following Tuesday to $74,000 from $60.5 million the day before, as at least 17 import markets took action against Brazilian meat exports, according to The Wall Street Journal. A lengthy Brazilian police sting

operation had targeted beef and chicken companies, which are accused of bribing sanitary officials to obtain health certificates. Depending on who you believe, the bribery took place just to speed the certification process along – with no faults found – or to allow rotten, salmonella-infested meat to be exported. China, the biggest buyer of Brazilian meat, along with South Korea, the European Union, Egypt, and Chile took steps to temporarily ban imports from either Brazil or specific companies accused by Brazilian federal police. The US said it will now inspect all Brazilian protein and not only a sample. No surprise, the federal police are being accused of mismanaging the investigation with discrepancies found in their investigation. However, the police, which staged a two-year investigation of the meatpacking industry and targeted more than 100 people, are standing by the account. Thirty-eight arrest warrants were issued, and 77 people were brought in for questioning,

among them inspectors and employees of the meatpacking firms. The Ministry of Agriculture said it had suspended 33 workers. The scandal was triggered when police found evidence that meatpackers had been selling rotten and substandard produce for several years. China and Chile will keep their import bans for the 21 Brazilian units under investigation by the operation, the government said. "Lifting this suspension was the result of a giant effort by Brazil to explain that the investigation targeted the conduct of individuals and not the quality of the meat," Maggi told Reuters news agency. In a statement, Brazil's President Michel Temer said the moves "reaffirm the trust of the international community in our sanitary control, robust and recognized around the world". Two days after the story broke, President Temer was photographed eating barbecue in a steak house with various ambassadors. Be it never said a good steak won’t lead to a change of minds.

A million lbs of vegan burgers


mpossible Foods has announced it is building its first large-scale production facility in Oakland, California, with plans to enable the company to make at least 1 million pounds of “meat” per month, directly from plants, when fully operational. The goal for the East Oakland site is to make enough Impossible Burgers to serve 4 million people per month within a year. The site has the capacity to make 250 times more Impossible Burgers than the company is currently making in its headquarters in Redwood City, California, and at a small facility in New Jersey. "Our mission to transform the global food system is urgent, and

the opportunity is huge, so we are embarking on one of the most ambitious scale-ups of any startup in the food industry," Impossible Foods CEO and Founder Patrick Brown said at the inauguration ceremony last week. "Our goal is to make delicious, sustainable, nutritious and affordable meat for everyone, as soon as possible." Calling its product “plant-based meat” the company produces burgers that aim to mimic meat’s taste mainly by using heme, a molecule found in hemoglobin (a component of blood), as well as in certain plants. In addition, Impossible Foods announced it hired Christopher Gregg as senior vice president of supply chain and manufacturing.

Gregg, a manufacturing and supply chain executive with experience in consumer product goods companies including Bare Snacks, Babyganics and Del Monte, will begin next month The company markets the Impossible Burger as using about 75 percent less water, generating about 87 percent fewer greenhouse gases and requiring around 95 percent less land than conventional ground beef from cattle. As much as MPJ would like to say otherwise, Impossible Burgers taste good. With major beef/poultry companies such as Tyson investing in the new wave of vegan burgers, others are agreeing with MPJ with their wallets. May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 7

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Taiwan culls A W million birds

china/us deal


poultry farm in Erlin Township, Changhua County in central Taiwan, was confirmed as being infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus, leading to the culling of 16,989 birds, the county's Animal Disease Control Center said. This was the ninth poultry farm hit by avian influenza subtype H5 in the county this year, according to data released by the Cabinetlevel Council of Agriculture, reports Focus Taiwan So far a total of 1,034,592 birds have been destroyed at 112 poultry farms infected with highly pathogenic avian flu viruses across Taiwan since the beginning of the year. The infected poultry farms have been located in Taoyuan City in northern Taiwan; Changhua and Yunlin counties in central Taiwan; Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties and cities in the south; Yilan and Hualien counties in

the east, COA data shows. New Taipei Agriculture Department Commissioner Li Wen said although the public needs to remain vigilant ,the avian influenza viruses so far identified in Taiwan have not been transmittable to humans. As long as people wash their hands frequently, purchase meat with certified labels and eat only well-cooked food, they face no risk from the threat of avian flu, he said.  According to the World Organization for Animal Health, Taiwan is not the only country hit so far this year by avian flu. Other outbreaks have happened in China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Russia, Poland, Austria, France, Romania, Germany, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. However, unlike Taiwan, most of these cases involved only a small number of birds. In the USA, cases have occurred in the states of Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Montana.

hitehouse Spokesperson Sean Spicer has confirmed that during Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent visit with US President Donald Trump, a deal was made to start exporting US beef to China. But a caution to US cattle producers; the chances that this will go through are slim. According to analyst Farha Asiam of Stephens Inc, the potential market for US cattle could be $7 billion. This is not, however, the first time China has agreed to grant US access. Each time before, hurdles appeared at the last moment and the deals got quashed. China is in a huge habit of tying trade deals to politics. With the South China Sea continuing to be a potential source of friction between the two powers, MPJ does not see this deal happening. It's been 13-years since China imposed a ban on US beef, don't start celebrating it's over.

Poland’s poultry set for continued strong growth throughout 2017


here is no going back for Poland’s ever expanding poultry industry which continues to lead in Europe, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Last year Poland’s poultry production increased by 15 percent over 2015. Once data has been calculated, it’s expected that the first half of 2017 will have seen an increase of five to seven percent over the same period in 2016. Much of this growth has been stimulated by growing domestic consumption as consumers see poultry as a cheaper and healthier choice than beef. That said, export 8 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

demand – mostly internal in the EU market – continues to rise. The Polish government is trying to open new markets as well to keep this upward trend. This includes working on obtaining permission to export to the United States. In 2015, Polish poultry production amounted to 2,386,000 metric tons. Poultry meat production consists mainly of chicken broilers (81%), turkey broilers (14%) which are in demand for the domestic meat processing industry, and ducks and geese which are mainly exported to Western Europe, mainly Germany.

This year’s slight slowdown in production is being caused by a reduction of prices for poultry meat on the domestic market and declining export demand. Poultry meat production is based on locally produced grains (mainly corn) and 2 million tons of soybean meal imported mainly from South America or the United States. The major export destinations of Polish poultry meat within the EU are the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Czech Republic. Outside of the EU Poland exports poultry meat to Hong Kong, China and the Congo.

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Global meat consumption to keep growing for decade


ood news for meat and poultry producers. Global meat consumption is expected to continue to grow over the next 10-years, according to Robert Johansson, chief economist, USDA, who was speaking to the US House Committee on Agriculture. Meat consumption is projected to grow through 2026/27 at an annual rate of 2.6 percent for Sub-Saharan Africa, 2.3 percent for North Africa, 2.2 percent for Southeast Asia, and 2.1 percent for the Middle East. By 2026/27, those four regions combined are expected to boost meat consumption by 8 million tons, which is 20.3 percent of the global growth in meat demand. Meat imports by these four regions increase by 2.7 million tons, accounting for about 34.0 percent of their

increased meat consumption. The rest of their consumption will come from increased domestic production. These four regions account for almost 52.0 percent of increased global meat imports through 2026/27. Poultry trade expands the most among livestock products. Poultry exports by the major poultry exporting countries increase by almost 24 percent, reaching more than 14.0 million metric tons by 2026/27 and adding nearly 3.0 million metric tons over the projection period. Beef exports by the major beef-exporting countries expand by 18 percent, reaching almost 11.0 million metric tons and adding 1.7 million metric tons to trade by 2026. Major pork exporters expand trade by 11 percent, reaching more than 9 million metric tons by 2026.

MHP to buy second plant


he Ukraine’s largest poultry producer, agricultural holding MHP, is going to purchase a second plant in the EU, possibly in Slovakia, company executives have told Ukrainian media group Liga. Viktoria Kapelushnaya, CFO of MHP, said that the company is going to launch its second plant in the EU, in Slovakia, towards the end of 2017. Its first plant in Europe now operates in the Netherlands. Kapelushnaya has not revealed any further details on the deal, only saying that the plant in Slovakia will be very similar to the one in the Netherlands. According to the company’s information, the investment cost for the plant in the Netherlands was US$3.5 million (€3.27 million).

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May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 9

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Link between antibiotic use on farm and resistance in humans


he Royal Society of the UK has published a new paper “Modelling the impact of curtailing antibiotic usage in food animals on antibiotic resistance in humans”, which mathematically models the impact of curtailing antibiotic usage in food animals on antibiotic resistance in humans. According to authors, B.A.D. van Bunnik and M.E.J. Woolhouse, consumption of antibiotics in food animals is increasing worldwide and is approaching, if not already surpassing, the volume consumed by humans. It is often suggested that reducing the volume of antibiotics consumed by food animals could have public health benefits. Although this notion is widely regarded as intuitively obvious there is a lack of robust, quantitative evidence to either support or contradict the suggestion. “As a first step towards addressing this knowledge gap, we develop a simple mathematical model for exploring the generic relationship

between antibiotic consumption by food animals and levels of resistant bacterial infections in humans. “We investigate the impact of restricting antibiotic consumption by animals and identify which model parameters most strongly determine that impact. “Our results suggest that, for a wide range of scenarios, curtailing the volume of antibiotics consumed by food animals has, as a standalone measure, little impact on the level of resistance in humans. We also find that reducing the rate of transmission of resistance from animals to humans may be more effective than an equivalent reduction in the consumption of antibiotics in food animals. Moreover, the response to any intervention is strongly determined by the rate of transmission from humans to animals, an aspect which is rarely considered,” state the authors. In response, the Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA), states it welcomes the Royal Society’s study, but cautions

Not OK in OK

Jerked back

USA: OK Food of Oklahoma is recalling a massive 933,272 pounds of breaded chicken products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically metal, FSIS announced. The problem was discovered after OK Foods received five consumer complaints stating that metal objects were found in the readyto-eat chicken products and by FSIS inspection personnel during verification activities. After an internal investigation, the firm identified the affected product and determined that the objects in all the complaints came from metal conveyor belting.

USa: Whiskey Hill Smokehouse of Oregon is recalling 22,466 pounds of beef, venison and ostrich jerky products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, FSIS announced today. The products contain soy, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.

10 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

MSG headache USa: Rochester Meat Company of Minnesota is recalling 13,330 pounds of pork sausage products due to misbranding, FSIS

that what the paper itself describes as a ‘simple model’ can only give an indication of likely outcomes. RUMA chair Gwyn Jones says: “The study highlights the complexity of antibiotic resistance and the need for a ‘One Health’ approach to the problem across humans and animals. So while it suggests that removal of antibiotics from animal production systems is not the answer to antimicrobial resistance in humans, the food and farming sector should not in any way dilute its current focus on reducing, refining and replacing antibiotic use across all sectors. “An important point it does raise, however, is that a drive for ‘antibiotic-free’ farm produce is not necessarily beneficial for human health and makes any related detrimental impacts on animal health and welfare even more unjustifiable. RUMA therefore retains its position that responsible use of antibiotics alongside well-managed, scientifically-robust reductions is the most appropriate approach.”

announced. The products contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), an ingredient which is not declared on the product label. The problem was discovered on March 2, 2017 by company personnel during routine label reviews. FSIS was notified on that same date. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Boneless shiga USa: H&B Packing Company of Texas is recalling 73,742 pounds of boneless beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O103, FSIS announced. The problem was discovered when FSIS was notified

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carbon dioxide a friend and foe in MAP


arbon dioxide, or CO2 , is a really useful gas. It is used widely in the industry, in everything from making fizzy drinks to refrigeration. In low concentrations CO2 is a perfectly harmless gas. In fact, it occurs naturally and is present in the air that we breathe. But in high amounts it can be dangerous. “Industries which use CO2 must be certain that they are protecting their workers properly,” says Morten Torngaard, sales manager at Mocon Europe A/S (formally Dansensor), the Denmark-based specialist in equipment for the Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) industry. “And because the gas is colorless and has no odor, it can be difficult to detect if levels are rising to potentially risky levels.” In the air carbon dioxide is present in a concentration of around 350 parts per million (ppm). But in much higher concentrations it can affect our health. For this reason most countries class it as a hazardous substance and place a limit of 5,000 ppm for exposure levels. At levels above 5000 ppm inhaling carbon dioxide over a long peri-

od can cause: headaches, confusion, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and in extreme cases, even death. “Carbon dioxide is widely used in MAP,” says Morten. “It is often part of a gas mixture, with nitrogen for example, which is used to flush food packaging to remove oxygen. This prolongs the shelf life of the food and keeps it looking fresh.” However, to ensure complete flushing of the package operators sometimes use an excess of gas and this can overflow into the production area. “If CO2 is part of the gas blend and this flows into the production area it could present a potential hazard to staff,” he says. This can especially be a problem with vertical and horizontal form fill and seal machines, which are widely used in the food packaging industry. Morten explains: “This is because these machines are ’openended’, so excess gas is able to spill out. And because CO2 is heavier than air, it is possible that it could accumulate in the production zone.” There are two approaches to help ensure that this does not become a problem. The first is to install a sophisticated ventilation/extraction

system in all MAP production areas. This will help ensure an excess of CO2 does not accumulate in the production area. But, this can be expensive to install, can be costly to run because of electricity use, needs to be maintained – more cost – and uses an excess of gas which is wasteful and costly. The second approach is to make sure that only the correct amount of gas is used to flush the packages. This can be done by installing an on-line gas analyzer that controls the delivery of the gases in the mixture to precise, pre-set levels. The advantages of using an analyzer include: you do not need to deliver excess gas, you use only the amount you need; this saves on gas costs and hence reduces production costs; you do not need to install expensive ventilation/extraction systems; it makes it much less likely that there will be an excess CO2 in the workplace; and it benefits employees’ health. One of the few disadvantages of using an analyzer is the initial investment. But, according to Morton, savings can be quickly recovered by using less gas.

by the State of Texas’ Meat Safety Assurance Unit about a positive non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli sample. There have been no confirmed reports of illnesses due to consumption of these products. Many clinical laboratories do not test for non-O157 Shiga toxinproducing E. coli (STEC), such as STEC O103 because it is harder to identify than STEC O157.

company learned it had a problem when it received two consumer complaints of foreign material in its ready-to-eat beef products. The foreign materials were pieces of rubber with white plastic that originated from the establishment’s processing equipment.

and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

No Olé

Canada: EuroCan Manufacturing is recalling its individually shrinkwrapped, 6-pack, 12-pack and 25-pack bags of Barnsdale Farms, HoundsTooth and Mac's Choice Pig Ears because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products

USA: Ajinomoto Windsor of Texas recalled more than 35,000 pounds of frozen ready-to-eat beef taquito products that consumers have said are contaminated with rubber and plastic, according to FSIS. The

Bad Fido

Befouled veal USA: Ohio Farms Packing Company of Ohio is recalling about 40,680 pounds of boneless veal products that may be contaminated with E. coli O103, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced. All of the products were sold to food services, none to retail customers. May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 11

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Why did the chicken cross the road? Chicken & Egg could be the last chicken cookbook you’ll ever buy. MPJ reports


hile the correct answer to this riddle is: “To buy this book”, it’s doubtful any chicken would want you to because Chicken & Egg has to be the best chicken/egg recipe book MPJ has ever seen. You’ll be cooking a lot of chicken if you buy it, let alone eggs. Although a long time UK institution, Si King and Dave Myers – aka The Hairy Bikers – are still not as well known on the other side of the Atlantic. This is a real pity because what sets their TV cooking shows apart and recipes is that they do not take themselves too seriously. They like cooking; they like eating; and they want it to be as simple and easy as possible. Ingredients are easily sourced where ever you live and explanations are extremely clear. They describe chicken as the “egalitarian meat” and to prove their point, they travelled widely for the TV series and book on their motorcycles. Included in their travels were trips to the USA (southern fried chicken), Israel (chicken shawarma), Morocco, the UK, and parts in between. MPJ has to agree with King, the chicken came first and we have yet to try an egg recipe. However, in the short time MPJ has had the book it has been used for a half-dozen recipes with several used enough times that the pages have stains on them. According to the two Hairy ones, the idea for this book as been incubating for 10-years. "It's 12 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

always a book that's been on the boil, really," says Myers. "To a cook, they're such useful ingredients. We've done some stand-alone cookbooks that have been very successful, like Great Curries, Perfect Pies, Meat Feasts, so why not Chicken & Egg?” It’s not all mains either. Unlike some of their recent titles such as The Hairy Dieters, The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life, The Hairy Dieters Good Eating and The Hairy Dieters Fast Food, Chicken &Egg is definitely not a diet book. Recipes include banana crème brûlée, Portuguese custard tarts and classic crème caramel. What MPJ especially likes about the book is that it gives the clearest and easiest explanations we have ever seen on how to butterfly a chicken breast, bone a chicken thigh, and how to flatten a bird (spatchcock) so it will cook faster on the grill. Enthusiasm for all things has been a trademark of their writing and TV work since the Hairy Bikers first launched. The two met on a TV set (Si was a director while Dave was a make-up artist) back in 1993 and hit it off immediately. They came up with an idea to combine their love of food and motorcycles which they admit sounded crazy. But Meyers adds, “if you’ve got a daft idea, it’s probably good to have a go.” MPJ unreservedly gives Chicken & Egg twothumbs up. This is about as perfect of cookbook that you will ever hope to see. The Hairy Bikers’ Chicken & Egg by Hairy Bikers, published by Orion 384 pages

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May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 13



US lamb

An uphill struggle In 2014 a third-party team turned over to the US lamb industry its Roadmap plan which addressed issues facing the industry and how to turn it around. Don’t expect a quick fix. MPJ reports


hat if you have a food product that looks almost exactly like your competitors – that if laid side by side, 95 percent of your customers couldn’t tell them apart. That for every two pounds you produce, your main rivals produce 100 pounds in a more efficient and cheaper operation. That each year, fewer and fewer of potential customers even taste your product. And, to add insult to injury, if you do a massive expensive ad campaign, it will be next to impossible to tell who actually benefitted the most from your campaign – you or them. US lamb producers must really believe in their product because these are just some of the issues that the US lamb industry faces on a daily basis – unlike any other meat or poultry industry in the USA. What makes it so hard for US lamb is, despite producing an excellent product, their main competitors – Australia and New Zealand – do it ever so well. Although the perception is that an

14 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

Australian child is born with a lamb chop in their mouth, your average Australian is more likely to eat chicken, beef, or pork, rather than lamb. Unlike the US lamb industry which has a potential customer base of 317 million, Australia’s is 23 million and New Zealand’s less than 4.5 million. Their industries must export to survive. This has driven their lamb/mutton producers to become experts in using robotics to reduce production costs, to use aggressive marketing and trade programs, to tap into government support and assistance, and to export year around. In lamb producing countries such as Spain, England, Wales, Greece, and the United States, lamb from Down Under is not only cheaper, many believe its quality is more consistent. And, if it’s already tough enough being a US lamb producer, it’s only going to get worse. While Brexit regulations might close down – or at least restrict – lamb sales from the UK to Europe, restrictions are in the process of being lifted on UK lamb exports to the USA. Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) – Export Market Development Executive Deanna


Leven says the US market for lamb is potentially worth £20 million (about $25 million) a year to the Welsh economy alone. She says: “There’s diplomatic work still to do to secure access, and it’s anticipated that US officials will undertake inspections of our facilities later this year. But it’s important to do everything we can to ensure that our industry is ready if we are allowed to resume exports. “HCC remains optimistic that, if we get market access for our high-quality PGI Welsh Lamb and PGI Welsh Beef, that the product will find a ready market among American consumers,” says Leven. The US lamb industry’s Roadmap has made crystal clear just how aware the industry is of the challenges it’s facing if aggressive changes are not made. There is a genuine possibility that it could become a cottage industry at best, selling lamb only in farmers’ markets or direct to buyers, like how already one third of US-produced lamb is being sold. “The Roadmap is helping the industry focus on key priorities and strategies to strengthen our competitiveness – improve quality and consistency,


increase demand, increase productivity, and improve collaboration across sectors,” says Megan Wortman, executive director of the American Lamb Board. “The Roadmap Implementation committee and several task forces continue to meet and work on key strategies and we have implemented many of the 2014 recommendations.” What all parties are agreed on is that the American lamb industry can be – and must be – a world class competitor in global lamb production. Conceptual changes required in the sheep industry to make this happen include having consumers’ definition of value driving the entire industry. Producers must view themselves as being primarily in the meat business – not primarily in the lamb or wool business – and all industry participants must be paid based on quality, not just quantity. According to Wes Patton, chairman of the American Lamb Board, the Roadmap chairman, and a lamb producer, the Roadmap provides a forum for all sectors of the sheep industry to gather and discuss issues facing the industry specifically concerning the marketing of American lamb. “To begin with an independent, unbiased, May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 15



third party was contracted with to do a SWOT [ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats] analysis of the industry and outline things that needed to be done to correct shortcomings. In January of 2016 the third party turned the leadership of the Roadmap over to members of our industry and we are in our second year of filling that role,” Patton tells MPJ. “The original goals are still in place and much progress has been made toward those and it has involved all segments of the industry with designated groups/organizations/segments taking the lead. Originally there were five committees set up to tackle specific issues. Product quality and consistency was handed back to the American Lamb Board since it had already invested significant funds in getting the electronic grading machines tested and into three of the major plants. “In addition, they had financed research to determine the levels of lamb flavor and offflavor, they continue to develop new demand for American Lamb specifically with millennial and ethnic consumers, and have developed the website that connects all segments of the industry and provides huge amounts of information for consumers and those who serve the consumers.” 

the positives


t times all focus on the US lamb industry seems to the on the negatives. It’s too easy to compare it to its main lamproducing rivals or to US pork and beef. Changes are being made, it’s tough, however, not having the same resources as the major players. “We have made great strides in getting more lamb – and a variety of cuts beyond the rack – on more menus and increasing the consistent availability of consumer-friendly cuts at retail,” says Wortman. “Ten years ago you couldn’t even find ground lamb and now it represents more than 10 percent of retail lamb sales. The industry has done a great job of making large primal cuts like the leg more consumer friendly with smaller roasts, chops and kabob and stew meat.” A problem with these different cuts of lamb is convincing supermarkets to give lamb shelf space in the meat cabinet. An informal survey of stores in California – the nation’s second largest lamb provider – found most stores only displaying four different cuts of lamb, none of which included lamb pre-cut for quick curries or stir fry. A question MPJ had in regards to supermarkets, was the absence of US lamb in shops the fault of the US lamb industry for not producing a sufficient quantity, or is it US supermarket chains going after the best deal with no sense of loyalty to home grown? 16 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

Wortman says that the US lamb industry has over 80,000 farmers and ranchers in the US, but they only produce 135 million pounds of lamb (less than 50% of what is consumed in the US), with the US importing 200 million pounds of lamb in 2016.   “While many retailers are price sensitive, the good news is more and more progressive grocery stores, retailers, and even meal delivery services are working hard to source local, high quality products and have committed to American lamb programs.  “We also see huge opportunities as retailers like Whole Foods are expanding their prepared food sections and companies like Amazon have plans for retail stores focused on prepared meals with a variety of ethnic flavors and interesting ingredients – not the same old same old chicken and mashed potatoes. This is being driven by Millennials who want bold adventurous flavors along with convenience and lamb fits in perfectly,” she says. In the UK, people used to associate lamb with Sunday roasts at ‘nans’, with mint jelly on the side. Now, lamb is seen as one of the main ingredients in such extremely popular and fun dishes such as homemade curries that Millennials like cooking at home. Supermarkets cater to this by selling packs of inexpensive diced or cubed lamb, ready for the home cook. But in the US, are lamb cuts tired and dated, e.g., chops and shanks, instead of more ‘user-friendly’ Millennial cuts? “I think the industry has done an amazing job in producing more-user friendly cuts vs. the whole, large intimidating 8-pound leg of lamb in the meat case. Companies are producing lamb bacon, patties, sausages, kabob meat ready-to-go, or even marinated,” says Wortman. Superior Lamb is making sealed lamb packs, already seasoned, which can go directly into the oven. “Chops and shanks are still sexy, delicious and super simple to cook so they have their place on the Millennial table as well. People are now more than ever interested in lamb, but they are not familiar with it and how to cook it. Plus, consumers associate lamb with rack – our most expensive cut – and assume all lamb is too expensive and complicated so it is a risky proposition. “Ground lamb is so approachable and affordable and a great way for consumers to experiment and fall in love with lamb. Lamb burgers, meatballs, pizzas, pastas, chili’s, tacos…the possibilities are endless,” she says. Indeed, Shane MacKenzie, vice president, operations, of Superior Lamb jokingly calls ground lamb a “gateway” product. Once customers get used to cooking with easy and inexpensive ground lamb, they’ll have the confidence to move on to more expensive cuts.    When compared to chicken or pork, lamb is an expensive meat, with US fresh lamb usually even more expensive than frozen or previously frozen AU/NZ lamb. Consumers must feel confident that



All IMAGES mla

US lamb producers could learn from Australia who knows how to market lamb as fun

May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 17



the lamb they purchase will be worth the cost. If stores want to sell more lamb, they will have to offer customers less expensive and easier to prepare choices of lamb such as ground, cubed, or chops. If US lamb producers want stores to sell more lamb, they will have to produce lamb that is 100 percent consistent in flavour and fat content. According to the Roadmap, the sheep industry must make productivity improvements rapidly to ‘make up for lost time’ in comparison to foreign producers, with participants taking the long-term view, instead of maximizing short-term profit today [see Superior Farms feature in this issue for a longterm view]. Since 1945 consumption of lamb in the US has been on a steady decline. It’s time to turn this around. There is hope. The traditional market channel for American lamb can grow and become profitable if changes are made.

learning from down under


ccording to Andrew Morrison, a sheep and beef farmer and one of the directors of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the country has numerous strengths which set it apart. There are very few steps between the commercial breeder and processor – a very short supply change chain – and market signals from the latter helps the former in their genetic selection and management decisions. This allows the industry to be very flexible and it can quickly respond to market changes. Lamb consistency is very high in New Zealand with the average lamb carcass at 18.4kg. This makes it easier for all involved in the industry from slaughterhouses and processors, to supermarkets. There is never a question of size and quality with New Zealand lamb. But what both New Zealand and Australia really exceed in is marketing, both for the domestic and export market. For example, Australia Day began 1947 and was originally celebrated on the last Monday of January, until 1994 when it officially became a national holiday falling on the 26th of January – until then very few people celebrated it, let alone knew what day it fell on. With such a new holiday there were next-to-no traditions that went then in celebrating it. So, in a genius campaign by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to boost lamb sales annually, it created the ideology that all Australians eat lamb on Australia Day. According to research by MLA, “Around twothirds of Aussies claim that lamb is the most patriotic meat and over the past three-years lamb sales on Australia Day have increased by an average of 34 percent.” One tradition for Australia Day from 2005 18 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

Director of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Andrew Morrison says the US can learn a lot from Oceania.

to 2014 was the release of Meat and Livestock Australia's annual Sam Kekovich advertisement for lamb, says Dr Peter John Chen, a senior lecturer in Australian politics at the University of Sydney. “This recurring promotion had been remarkable for its widespread popularity (driven largely by a good mix of humor and Kekovich's likeable, brusque persona), as well as the way it morphed John Howard's culture war arguments about who is and who is not Australian into a very effective advertising campaign.” But Australia Day is an increasingly crowded advertising space, with everything from clothing to ice-cream getting in on the faux-nationalist action. The ability of the Kekovich campaign to break through was the willingness of the ‘creatives’ to be offensive. A few years ago the ad features Sam's homophobic response to a samesex couple (butch lesbians being unAustralian) and his willingness to feed a child meat against their parents' wishes. While he previously proposed both deporting vegetarians to Nauru or North Korea and blasting them with water cannons, the 2014 ad had tofueating hipsters getting crushed by a giant (lambeating) baby. Unsurprisingly, the ad attracted some criticism, particularly from vegetarians and vegans: the long-running butt of these jokes. The last two year’s ads have not feature Kekovich but have generated a huge amount of publicity. Last years ‘Boomerang” ad Australian commandos incinerating a vegan’s kale. There were numerous complaints due to health and safety issues.




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A Superior way of doing things US lamb has had its back against the ropes for sometime, being pummeled by cheaper imports from Down Under, a steady decrease in consumption since 1945, and indifference from the supermarket chains that seems to believe lamb’s place is somewhere hidden in the meat case. So instead of throwing in the towel, why is one company leaping into the ring with a new $18 million plant? Editor Velo Mitrovich reports from Dixon, California


et’s not beat around the bush and hide this deep in the story; this is reality that Superior Farms is facing. Just a short eightminute drive from its Dixon plant gate is a Safeway supermarket. Inside the store, signs galore boast “1,000s of local products”. You can’t get more dead-center in California’s massive agriculture-driven Central Valley than neighboring towns of Dixon, Davis, and Sacramento. Oranges, lettuce, tomatoes, almonds, tangerines, eggs, broccoli, wine, olives, honey, grass-fed beef, cheese – the list goes on and on as to what is produced local. However, when it comes to lamb the supermarket chain ignores its closest neighbor, offering customers instead lamb from Australia – over 7,500 miles away. However, don’t bother trying to interrupt Shane MacKenzie, vice president, operations, with this fact as he starts showing you around the Dixon lamb processing plant. A course he’s aware of the challenge Superior and the entire US lamb industry faces, but MacKenzie and Superior are too busy moving forward to worry about US lamb’s past; they’re gearing up for US lamb’s future. And, as crazy as it might sound Superior has some good reasons for feeling optimistic. The company started as a family-owned business

20 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

in 1964, about 700 miles up the road in Ellensburg, Washington, and acquired its Dixon plant in 1981. This facility was originally built in 1923 and over the years has served as both a beef and lamb packing plant. While the plant was for all practical purposes completely rebuilt last year, someone who has been at Dixon for sometime like MacKenzie can point out a few older parts that still exist. “The original owners and us just kind of kept adding on to the original plant for 90-years, in the end parts of the processing line weren’t even close to each other. We hit a point where we couldn’t keep working here, it wasn’t efficient, so do we shift all operations to our Denver plant or rebuild? “California is the second largest lamb producing state in the USA; we felt it was important that we stay and support it. The rehab cost around $18 million, making us the largest lamb processor and the only plant on the West coast. We now handle here around 30 to 35 percent of all domestic lamb,” he says, adding that this is the first lamb processing plant built in the USA since 1997. In addition to the Dixon facility, Superior has the mentioned processing plant in Denver, a further processing and sales facility in Chicago, and sales/ warehouse operations in Los Angeles and Boston, says Anders Hemphill, vice president, marketing & brand strategy for Superior Farms. All total there are around 410 employees.




Pre-hiding at Superior Farms

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A BANSS fully automated carcass cooler room at Superior Farms

What sets Superior apart from the majority of the world’s processing plants is that it’s employee owned. In 1991 the Cohn family sold Superior Farms to its employees through an employee stock ownership plant transaction. One of major benefits of this is noticed when you walk through the plant’s “clean side” (administration, lunch/break-room) and see numerous plaques on the wall citing employee longevity. People stick around here; family generations stick around here. Even the 30+ year plaque is full of names. “Because these employees are also owners, they take their responsibilities very seriously and their expertise is unmatched,” says Hemphill. The beauty of this is that the employee-owners are concerned about how their dollars are spent because they recognize that it’s ‘their’ money and future. Employees’ shares are purchased on their behalf by the company at a level that is commensurate with their salary or hourly wage, with employees 22 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

becoming vested after three-years of employment. “Upon a vested employee’s departure from the company, they receive the value of their shares either in a lump sum or in payments over time,” says Hemphill. “In this way, the company is purchasing back these shares that can then be distributed to other employees.”



ambs are brought in from farms throughout the West, with the majority from California. Dr Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University and internationally recognized expert on animal handling, has approved the livestock area where the lambs move from the holding pens to the slaughterhouse. In observing the movement, there is a quiet, natural flow which does not require prods to move the lambs along.




Indeed, one lamb was so calm looking on a centertracked conveyor restrainer that MPJ assumed it had already been stunned. MacKenzie says that processing usually starts around 0600 and runs to 1400-1600 depending on the demand, five days a week. When demand is higher, such as around Easter or Christmas, a Saturday shift is added. Once restrained, the lambs are stunned with a Jarvis electrical stunner which only temporarily stuns them to allow for halal requirements that forbids an animal from being stunned in such a manner that it couldn’t recover from the stunning. The lambs then have their throats cut by a certified halal slaughterer and are bled out, with all lamb being halal certified. The lamb hoofs are removed and the hide pulled off, with the pelts being inspected, salted, dried, and sold on. Heads are removed, the bodies split opened, and gutted. The carcasses are moved, via a BANSS conveyor system to a BANSS fully

automated carcass cooler room for 24 hours before moving on to processing. All parts of the lamb are used; much of head is used in California’s Mexican markets; offal is processed and stays primarily on the West Coast; ears are used for pet chews; and eyes find their way into high school science classes for dissecting. At this stage the carcasses move on to butchering. An e+v Technology camera grading system has been installed and the lamb bodies pass through this to determine grade and best cuts. It has not yet been validated by the USDA but will be shortly. Currently three USDA personnel are on hand during the entire processing cycle to inspect the animals both before and after slaughter, with a veterinarian on site as well. At this time an inspection by Superior is made to determine if the lamb is indeed a lamb and not a yearling or older. This is done by inspecting the ‘break joint’ which is the lowest joint on a lamb located on the front shanks. MacKenzie points out May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 23



Eviscerating platform

on a lamb carcass how the foreleg joints break in four well-defined ridges that look similar to a wellworn-teeth on a saw. With a yearling it normally doesn’t break and if it does, while the joint looks similar to a lamb joint, the surface is rough, porous, dry, lacks redness, and is referred to as a ‘spool joint’. Yearling or older animals do not bring as high of price as lamb. If a spool joint is observed, a price adjustment is made with farmer. The lambs are broken down into four major parts: leg, loin, shoulder, and rack. To assist in this, Superior is looking into buying a Dragon Slicer from Treif. A good portion of the lamb is ground using a Reiser grinder. This is either packaged as is or formed into patties. According to MacKenzie the ground portion amounts to around 15,000 pounds a week, up from a few years ago when they were only grinding around 1,000 pounds a week. Any scraps not used in any of the processes end up as pet food. Lamb cuts are either vacuum packed or packed using Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). While MPJ was at the plant is looked close to 50/50 percent usage between the two Multivac lines, but MacKenzie says there is a move away from MAP and using more vacuum packaging. All lamb products pass through a Thermo metal detector before leaving the plant. 24 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

Close to 50 percent of the lamb is prepared as case ready, with the biggest buyers being Krogers and Walmart. Everything is produced to order and everything is branded. Butcher shops don’t have the volume to justify the added expensive of preparing, selling, and shipping single carcasses.

developing brands


ccording to Hemphill, one of the areas of strategic focus for Superior Farms has been the development of a portfolio of brands. “Superior Farms is our all natural brand.  This is the workhorse among our brands and is distributed across retail and foodservice channels. Superior Farms branded lambs are mostly grazed on pasture and then finished on a nutritious grain diet,” he says. “Farmer’s Mark is our antibiotic free brand. Given the huge demand for proteins that have never been given antibiotics, we developed this brand. It is sold through some foodservice and retail channels. When we launched the brand in early 2016, we provided an exclusive retail agreement with Raley’s [supermarket chain] in northern California.  The brand has been very successful with



Slaughter hall, dehiding station

this retailer in this area. “Cascade Creek is at the high end of our brand portfolio. Initially, this program served as our grass fed offering. We are in the midst of transitioning this program to antibiotic free as well. So, these lambs will be grass fed and antibiotic free, meeting a higher end need in the marketplace,” says Hemphill.  MacKenzie says that a problem lamb faces in the supermarket is its cost, with many customers balking at paying more than $15 for a piece of meat, especially one that they could be unsure of how to cook. For this reason, he sees ground lamb as a “gateway” meat; consumers start with it and move on to more expensive cuts. “Lamb is like scallops, it can be an expensive protein and off-putting to anyone not sure of their cooking skills,” he says. “Ground lamb – it’s easy for anyone to prepare and is inexpensive. Anyone can cook a lamb burger.” He adds that another easy-tocook item Superior sells is a pre-seasoned, cook-ina-bag lamb with a built in thermometer. “As we seek to inspire consumers to eat more lamb, we are working hard on developing new, innovative lamb products,” says Hemphill. “These include a number of lamb sausage offerings, such

as merguez, and a lamb chorizo, and a number of pre-cooked items that can work well in certain foodservice environments. Over the past couple of years, we have successfully launched a lamb bacon and a precooked boneless lamb shoulder that works very well on flatbreads, sandwiches, tacos, etc.”  So is Superior right to feel optimistic? MPJ has been in contact with northern California Safeway asking why they didn’t stock Superior – or any US lamb – at the Safeway in Dixon. According to Safeway Spokesperson Wendy Gutshall, in the San Francisco Bay Area, Safeway has bought four Andronico’s Community Markets and reopened them during the first week of March as Safeway Community Markets. Located in more up-market areas, the stores will continue on Andronico’s tradition of selling local items as much as possible, indeed having over 3,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) that regular Safeway stores do not carry. Gutshall says this will include US lamb. “We are looking to expand this offering to other Safeway stores,” she says. While this might seem like a small victory at best, it’s a start in the right direction. Superior Farms has the product, the employees, and the attitude to turn around US lamb and get it back on the average American’s dinner plate. May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 25

P o ul t r y

Where every day is

turkey day In the US, having turkey for Thanksgiving is so pervasive, the day is commonly known as ‘Turkey Day,’ with around a quarter of all US turkeys consumed on that day. Elsewhere in the world, from Mexico to Hungary to the Philippines, turkey consumption soars from November to January, and then falls away to near nothing from the remainder. However, there is one exception in the world. MPJ reports.

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P o ul t r y


t hardly seems possible. You would think that the USA would lead the world in per capita turkey consumption by a country mile, but it’s only third, with Hungary in 2nd place. As far as global companies go, Subway sandwich chain buys more turkey than anyone else. But we’re talking countries. You better sit down for this. It’s Israel. Statistics from Israel’s Agriculture Ministry and Foreign Ministry show that the average Israeli eats about over 28 pounds (13kg) of turkey annually, nearly double the 17 pounds (7.7kg) eaten by Americans on average. Another surprise. Israel isn’t too shabby on the production side as well, producing over 125,000 tons of turkey per year, putting it in the Top 10 in overall turkey production worldwide. You’d think with all that consumption there would be none left

for export but more than half is, mostly to the EU. One of the reasons why Israel eats turkey year around is that it does a lot more with it than stick the bird in the oven with stuffing. Although there is a small but growing tendency in Israel to look the other way when it comes to non-kosher pork – often just referred to as ‘white meat’ – this is a more recent phnomon. But, with so many of Israel’s first citizens coming from eastern Europe, nonsecular Jews would have been very familiar with ham and other preserved pork products. Due to the tougher protein structure of turkey, as opposed to chicken, turkey lends itself perfectly for products such as turkey ham and turkey salami. And then there is turkey pastrami. Israeli turkey farmer Yaron Glover has somehow become the de-facto expert on Israeli turkey consumption and has to be one of the most quoted turkey farmers in the world, based on an interview

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in the Times of Israel and other publications. According to Glover, turkey pastrami is how Israel got to be number one in turkey consumption. “In the early days of the state, getting meat to Israelis was a problem,” he says. “The country was poor so it couldn’t afford to import too much beef, and chickens required refrigeration, which many Israelis did not have at the time.” In order to provide meat protein to the masses, authorities in Israel turned to preserved meats, like pastrami and salami, that could be stored for weeks without refrigeration. “Turkey, because it is a tougher meat than chicken, proved to be a better choice for pastrami production, so farms started raising turkeys,” he says. Again, because of the pork background and so many being familiar with pork schnitzel, turkey proved to be a good ingredient source for this, especially since it was a way of using up turkey skin and other parts which couldn’t be sold on.

turkey will shrink


rime Equipment Group, which says it designs, builds, and delivers more machines to the turkey processing industry than anyone else, believes that the future success in the turkey industry will come from ‘nontraditional’ turkey products. Joe Gasbarro, president of Prime, says that while the Group is not food product development experts, they are in plants in the US and around the world every day which gives them a unique insight into the poultry business. What Prime means by this is that by looking beyond the November/December holiday roast turkey, you can provide your customers with a reason to pick up a turkey product every day. Already in all major supermarkets in the USA, Europe, and parts of Asia can be found ground (mince) turkey, along with sliced turkey breast (turkey breast cutlets). Ground turkey has grown considerably in popularity thanks to industry improving the quality of ground turkey over the last 15-years. While once it could be made with turkey offal, such as hearts, liver, and gizzard, now it is made with either 100 percent breast, 100 percent thigh, or a combination of the two. Although chains such as McDonald’s do not offer turkey burgers, almost all gourmet and casual dining burger chains do. Stores are using ground turkey in value-added products such as Jennie O’s ‘Turkey Meatballs Italian Style’, or Butterball’s ‘Everyday Turkey Meatballs.’ Gasbarro also looks at the success of turkey products such as turkey bacon – made in the States by Oscar Mayer, Butterball, and Applegate – and Hormel’s turkey pepperoni. What is proving extremely popular is turkey jerky, in particular the brand Turkey Perky Jerky. (Sources 28 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

P o ul t r y

have told MPJ that this is the most requested item in ‘Care Packages’ sent to overseas US servicemen and women). While turkey legs might seem more familiar to US families as something found being barbecued in state fairs and wrapped in bacon, according to Gasbarro there has been a move by foodies to start using turkey legs in Ossco Buco, instead of the more familiar lamb shank. “If a turkey product doesn’t fit somewhere, it may fit somewhere else,” says Gasbarro, citing the three major groups: retail consumers; food service including restaurants/fast food; and institutional uses such as in schools, cafeterias, or prisons.

breeder eyes growth


f anyone has their finger on the pulse of the worldwide turkey industry, it is Aviagen, the leading supplier of turkey breeding stock. According to Aviagen, production will increase over the next 15 years, with the increase being slow over the next five years or so. However, in the following 10 years the annual increase will accelerate faster due to increased demand. This will be brought on not only by a growing world population, but also a growing affluent world population. It is estimated that 4.8 billion of the world population will be middle class by 2028.

Aviagen believes that North Africa will continue to grow along with Middle Eastern countries – in particular Iran and neighboring countries. South Africa also has good potential to develop turkey consumption further as does South America. It is likely that China will eventually establish a higher demand for turkey protein, however it is likely that its requirements initially will be satisfied primarily from imports from the USA. Russia and Asia will also continue to increase over time. Consumption in India is a possibility but unlikely within the next 15 years. Within the EU the emerging markets are likely to be further East, with the Ukraine and Poland continuing to grow. The country of Turkey has the potential to expand further as its own domestic consumption is low and has the potential to grow. It is also geographically well placed to export more product to the Middle East and the “Stan countries” ie Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, says Aviagen. In summary turkey production will show an increase over the next 15 years. However, as other proteins will also be in demand, this growth cannot be taken for granted. “There is a huge opportunity for our industry but it will be a lot of hard work in order to achieve further growth,” says Aviagen. “We all have a responsibility and a part to play from the genetics company to the production facilities, to the processors and the marketers that finally sell our products.” May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 29

P o ul t r y

Automated turkey processing One of the problems with turkey processing is, unlike broilers which tend to be close to the same exact weight and size, turkeys are anything but, and they cannot be treated as just “big chickens”, says Marel Poultry


ts turkey processing solutions focus on the specific needs of this specialized market and are the result of in depth knowledge both of the market itself and of the necessary processing technologies. A turkey’s specific characteristics dictate customized processing solutions. By using these unique systems, turkey processors can be sure of carrying out each single process step correctly, while keeping perfect control of the stream of incoming and outgoing products. Marel Poulty claims it leads the market for turkey processing solutions, leadership earned through years of dedicated experience developing equipment specifically for the sector. “Today we offer the highest level of automation for the highest processing capacities currently available. We offer robust solutions for processing today’s turkey weights at hourly throughputs ranging from 250 birds up to a maximum of 3,000 males or 3,600 females (4-50/60bpm). Besides resulting in an efficient and effective automated process, our solutions make for better working conditions for operators,” the company states. Processors will always strive to produce as efficiently as possible whilst maximizing food safety and quality. Production processes must run perfectly with the highest possible up-time and yields and the lowest possible cost of ownership, which should always be predictable. At the same time the closest care and attention should be paid to producing safe, high quality products in an ethical and socially responsible manner. Besides aiming to add value as effectively as possible, animal welfare, the careful handling of valuable raw material, full traceability and keeping a close eye on water and energy consumption will always be starting points for the provision of Marel Poultry solutions and services.

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controllable stunning


arel Poultry's solutions for turkey live bird handling and stunning allow processors to keep these stages completely under control. Related to the market, a turkey processor can choose between water-bath stunning and Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS). Marel Poultry water bath stunners use electricity to guarantee effective stunning. Depending on the settings used, it should prevent blood hemorrhages which would compromise fillet presentation. This poses challenges especially to European processing plants, since the EU-Regulation 1099/2009 requires high current stunning to comply with high welfare standards. Controlled Atmosphere Stunning offers a unique solution to these challenges, combining high welfare standards with good meat quality. When applying CAS, the birds are stunned using the first-in, first-out principle. Turkeys are smoothly transferred and it is easy to identify DOA's unfit for processing. This exceptional controllability adds substantial value to the end product. An additional benefit of CAS stunning is the shackling afterwards of the fairly heavy turkeys. Hanging conscious birds into the line asks much time and physical effort from the operator, and could cause stress for the turkeys as well as possible injuries. This is avoided by shackling birds after stunning. When it comes to scalding, it is essential to take into account local market preferences. The customers' wants and needs are decisive in determining how a product should look. To the processor, it is important to agree beforehand with the customer on the level of epidermis on/off. After that, the scalding configuration can be made.

P o ul t r y

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Depending on the desired end product, Stork heavy duty (HD) scalders can generate the right scalding temperature and environment. Specialized Stork turkey scalders are equipped to accommodate very large products; they maximize plucking quality and prevent loss of yield by always achieving a fine appearance which generates the highest quality product presentation. Plucking of turkeys requires special attention. Turkeys in one flock tend to differ considerably in size and weight one from another. Guiding them through the pluckers can also be difficult because of their weight and lack of flexibility. The configuration of a turkey plucking line will, therefore, largely depend on the throughput and the weight of the birds to be processed. There are various kinds of plucking technologies, each of them dedicated to their own fields, suitable for all throughputs and extremely simple to set. One of the many options available is the counter 32 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

rotating principle, which allows a softer, lower temperature scald. In this way, less equipment is needed at higher line speeds, which minimizes wing damage. Marel Poultry's plucking result is always excellent on every single part of the turkey, regardless of its size. This flexible way of dealing with difference during the defeathering stage is an essential part of successful turkey processing.

three-point suspension


he evisceration process consists of a number of modules which can be configured to suit your needs , your processing capacity and your degree of automation. Products hang from shackles suspended from an overhead conveyor. A Stork three-point suspension system angles products, so

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that they are perfectly positioned for each process step. This technique saves labor and ensures that the lower digestive tract does not come into contact with the product during evisceration. Contamination is therefore avoided. Marel Poultry offers a wide range of equipment for the turkey evisceration process, engineered to give optimum efficiency at the very highest line speeds. The equipment prepares products in the best possible way for chilling and all subsequent downstream operations. Good evisceration is essential for achieving the highest standards of yield, quality and hygiene at the end of the line. Depending on what their market demands, turkey processors can opt for immersion chilling in water or in-line air chilling. Marel Poultry has developed a unique chilling process for turkeys, using the DownFlow Plus technology. The Aqua Film Control chilling tunnel is based on air chilling; there's no water immersion involved. Thanks to the specially designed moisturizing cabinets an optimum chilling performance is possible without the risk of water freezing. This DownFlow Plus chilling technique also enhances the control of product presentation and color as well as prevention loss of yield. After chilling product is dry, preventing bacterial growth. The ACM-T modular system has been specially designed for the automatic cut-up of turkeys. Separate modules are available for market-specific cut-up. The exclusivity of this Stork solution lies in its unequalled yield. A wide choice of modules gives almost limitless configuration and production options, allowing the system to be used for all capacities and market requirements. Product carriers transport products through the different processing modules positioning them precisely for each operation even at high line speeds. Top yield and quality are the result. Examples of processing modules are modules to stretch product, to make an incision into the skin at the groin, to cut off front halves, and to cut stumps, socks and drumsticks. The system can be reset quickly for bigger or smaller products giving optimum production flexibility. Stork ACM-T is suitable for air chilled products as well as water chilled products and can handle processing speeds of maximum 1,800 shackles/h for males or 2000 shackles/h for hens.

flexibility in filleting


nique in automated turkey processing is Marel Poultry's ability to fillet front halves. The advanced, modular FHF-XT solution allows for a maximum turkey meat yield. Switching between the modules for female or male turkey processing is easy. Thanks

to the different modules that can be installed into the filleting line, the FHF-XT system can turn the front half of the turkey into various products such as whole wing, wing in three parts, shoulder meat with or without skin, fillet with or without tenderloin, breast skin and carcass. The logistic benefits are clear; there's an enormous flexibility in lay-out of the filleting process, while being able to offer a vast variety of end products. The large diversity in filleting methods allow for tailor-made deliveries. The system has the same maximum speed for males and hens as the ACM-T system. Depending on the level of automation, manual processing during filleting can be minimized. In this phase of processing, there's equipment available which is particularly adapted to turkeys. The Marel DMP45 meat harvesting system, for example, can handle primal parts or previously deboned parts of turkeys such as breast caps, carcasses and upper backs. The Marel Platino Flattener works well on turkeys; it can process turkey breast meat and inner fillets. In the final stages of the process there are solutions for every need – from portion cutters to graders, batchers, marinators, weighers and labelers. May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 33


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Small scale poultry processing in a box A problem with processing poultry for small companies is volume – a fixed location plant is utterly dependent on the farms around it. But what if the plant was mobile, allowing it to extend its range of operation. NMPAN and MPJ report


avid Schafer, owner and founder of Featherman Equipment, spends a lot of time thinking about small-scale poultry processing, according to Kathryn Quanbeck, program manger, Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN) out of Oregon State University. Having raised, butchered and sold pastured poultry since 1994, Schafer knows the benefits and the bottlenecks of a poultry enterprise. While much of the equipment sold by Featherman is geared towards very small-scale operations, Schafer has been working on a solution for USDA-inspected processing for quite some time now. The model is called ‘Plant in a Box’ (PIB) and aims to be a turnkey answer for those looking to process chickens, turkeys, and other poultry under USDA inspection. Containerized processing is not new,” says Schafer. “What makes Plant in a Box stand apart is the design and coordination of key equipment. From the compact 18-cone rotary kill station to the feature-packed new Scalder Pro through pluck and evisceration, the Plant in a Box is designed for efficiency and economy,” he says. The Plant in a Box unit is built into a recycled shipping container: 40’ long by 8’ wide and eight or nine feet. The unit comes ready to connect to water and sewer with all the required equipment in it for approximately $80,000. A site pad, water, power, and a plan for managing effluent are not

included and must be provided on site. Schafer estimates that a crew of three trained people can process about 500 birds per day and offers this math: “Say you process 500 birds per day, 100 days out of the year. That’s 50,000 birds per year. If you charge $3/bird for processing – the Midwest price – you’ll gross $150,000 per year. Even at half that volume your payback is less than three years.” The Plant in a Box unit takes a chicken from “crate to chill tank”: no storage is included in the space or throughput estimates. Schafer recommends moving chilled poultry with large totes that can be moved with a forklift and wheeled into a separate packaging and storage area or back into the (cleaned) evisceration room for drying and packaging. Rated at 200 birds per hour with five operators, the PIB optimizes operator movements, is designed to stay clean and clean up easily, features constant positive air flow, and is detailed for comfort and optimal working lighting, says Schafer. Combine those features with no off gassing from combustion and the PIB sets new standards in operator comfort. The Pro Scalder, with its dedicated computer board, goes from empty to ready to scald in eight minutes, features forward, reverse, cycle select, and single rotation select options and is sensitive to .5 degrees. Cycle count down and temperature display let operators know where they are at all times. The safety shield tilts back for cleaning. “Best of all, the water is still transparent after a morning of work,” says Schafer. “Flat line temps May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 35

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and consistent, uninterrupted scalding result in perfect birds, rapid processing and happy QC operators.” The first Plant in a Box prototype started operations in 2013 at Maple Wind Farm (MWF) in Richmond, Vermont, according to Quanbeck. “The ‘plug and play’ aspect was really nice,” says John Smith, poultry manager at MWF. “It was delivered and we were operating under inspection within a week or two.” MWF has increased their throughput and efficiency over the last two years. John recalls, “one of our best days was 320 birds slaughtered, processed and packaged. We did that with four people.” They haven’t reached Schafer’s optimistic estimate of 500 birds per day with three people, but they are working toward it. Smith estimates that they need to do at least 20,000 - 25,000 birds per year to cover operating costs. MWF tries to process as many birds as 36 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

possible on processing days. “Setup and cleanup accounts for a significant portion of our time, and this takes the same amount of time no matter how many birds we do.” Overall, Smith says the Plant in a Box unit has been a great move for them and he would recommend it to others. NMPAN ( is a national network of people and organizations creating and supporting appropriate-scale meat processing infrastructure for niche meat markets, organized out of Oregon State University. Small and mid-sized plants — when available at all — can lack capacity, equipment, appropriate inspection status, and the human and financial capital to upgrade or expand. To meet this need, NMPAN assists processors, producers, buyers, regulators, and others involved in this growing sector by coordinating, distributing, and developing information and resources to improve access to processing infrastructure and the long-term stability of this sector.



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FAT CITY When you think of Los Angeles, you think of palm trees, movie stars, and the Hollywood sign. You would never guess that the West coast’s largest animal shortening company is located just five short miles south of city center. Editor Velo Mitrovich reports from LA


t’s not a great place to be if you wear eye glasses, as you wipe the steam off them for the umpteenth time. It’s warm and noisy, smells a bit like roast beef, and you’re no longer sure which level you’re on inside Coast Packing Company’s 100,000 square foot concrete/ stainless steel building. Still, you’re in good hands as plant manager Ron Collins shows how white beef fat is rendered into beef tallow. The Vietnam marine vet though has a look on his face which easily reads: “You’re reading more into this than needs to be” as he looks at your scribbled plant diagram notes. “You know bacon,” he says with a bit of exasperation in his voice. “Take it out of the refrigerator and the fat is white and solid. Put it in a hot frying pan and the fat melts and you can pour it out of the pan. That’s rendering, it’s not rocket science. You just need a lot of hot steam.” And Collins is right, turning beef or pork fat into tallow or lard isn’t rocket science, humans have been doing it since pigs were first domesticated around 10,000 years ago. But, what is as complicated as rocket science is keeping a company going and prospering for fourgenerations, especially in a consumer climate that for much of the last 20-years has acted like your product should have the Devil’s pitchfork on the label. However, times are changing for the animal shortening market as people realize how the actual health benefits of animal fats outweigh many of the alternatives. And then there is the flavor which leaves all plant-based fats way behind at the gate. Eric R Gustafson, CEO of Coast Packing, describes being the fourth generation of his family

38 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

to head Coast Packing as an honor and you do not question this in the least; you can see it in his eyes. Each time he walks in the door, he’s aware of the members of his family who walked in before him. When he was 16 and working at the loading dock his father fired him for not taking his job seriously. Years passed and experience gained elsewhere before he was allowed to work again at Coast. Now he takes his job very seriously. “We’ve been in this same location since 1922. My great-grandfather, who was a butcher and meat cutter, immigrated to the USA from Austria when his father told him only the oldest son would inherit – which he wasn’t,” says Gustafson. “He worked in a series of butchering jobs in Chicago and Iowa until with a friend, arrived in Los Angeles. With a third person they created Coast Packing, which was a pork/beef slaughtering and packing company. In 1931 he became the sole owner.” The production of beef tallow and pork lard was always a by-product of of the company; in the 1960s it was decided that animal shortening would be the company’s main focus. Despite there being some years that this no doubt seemed like a mistake, the emphasis has worked out. “In the 1980s there were around 16 similar companies in this area; now there is only a couple,” says Gustafson. As much as he’s aware of how it sounds, he agrees that it was a game of attrition which lead them to becoming the largest animal shortening company on the West Coast. “We’ve also been blessed with some great people, a real passion in the organization, brand names, and marketing,” he quickly adds. What the company does is to bring in rail cars full of animal fats for further processing inside the

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coast packing

Inspected raw meaterial going to the 'screw conveyor' for grinding.

plant. By the time pork fat reaches Coast Packing it has already been rendered into lard, beef tallow is produced at the plant from raw beef fat – although they can’t render enough at the plant to meet their needs so some finished beef tallow is also brought in for further processing. Standards for fresh meat – proper chilling, handling, transport, etc – have to be maintained throughout the process, from the time it leaves the slaughterhouse or processing plant to when it arrives at Coast. The company, too, has to maintain this ‘fresh meat’ standard and the fat is immediately refrigerated to maintain cold temperature. Lard is used in Mexican tortillas, tamales, refried beans, and other dishes for the massive Hispanic market in the USA. Bakeries, also, use lard in breads and pie crusts. Some of Coast’s current bakery customers date back to the 1930s. As Gustafson tells you, relationships count for a lot in this industry [see sidebar]. Beef tallow was used for years by McDonald’s and other fast food chains to cook their French fries. In the USA McDonald’s stopped in 1990, due to consumer pressure for “healthier” fries; in Canada it has been much more recent. Most customers would agree: the fries have never tasted that good since. Hostess, the maker of Twinkies and Cupcakes, also used beef tallow as one of the ingredients in its snack foods ‘cream’ filling. In the last few years, there has been a real Renaissance movement regarding lard and beef tallow, with numerous higher-end burger and steak restaurants using beef tallow in fries and in other dishes. This is being driven in part by the Millennials who are much more willing to try foods made with animal fats. While once lard and beef

lessons from Eric Gustafson Last year Eric Gustafson was a guest on Ric Franzi’s noted Critical Mass radio show where Franzi interviews CEOs to find out their secrets to success. Here are the highlights of the podcast. Relationships matter: Develop an alliance with business partners and consumers and continuously work to build these connections. Remind both customers and suppliers of the role your organization plays, and the value it brings, to the market. Be, and surround yourself with people who are, honest and ethical. Listen to the people on your team, and establish a relationship based on trust. Surround yourself with the best people possible, because if you don’t surround yourself with great people, your business is destined for failure. Find a balance in everything you do. Listen, and be patient in your approach, but also be persistent and driven, and instill this same sense of passion in your team as a whole. Longevity in business is the result of ‘survival of the fittest’: Building long-­ lasting relationships, along with developing an organizational culture based on the principles of commitment and passion, are what cause businesses such as Coast Packing Company, to thrive, and become leaders in their industries for generations.

May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 39


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Raw material – beef trimmings. Coast sources raw beef fat from numerous sources including Harris Ranch. The fat has to be treated like any regular piece of beef.and kept cool.

tallow were considered a poor person’s shortening or butter, it’s not that way any more. For example, Coast Packing makes beef tallow from Snake River Farm’s Wagyu cows (similar to Kobe). This retails for $15 a pound from Snake River. Beef tallow can be produced with varying degrees of beef flavor ranging from full to no flavor at all. French fries and sweet potato fries cooked in full flavor beef tallow, like they do at Harris Ranch and Inn/Spa in Coalinga, California, have a wonderful flavor that has to be tasted to be believed. Harris Ranch, California’s largest beef producer, is also one of the suppliers of raw material to Coast Packing. While Coast has been asked before about kosher or halal products, one of the biggest problems would be in finding enough raw ingredients so the idea has been rejected.

refining and packaging


ccording to Gustafson, what the plant used to produce in a day, it now produces in an hour. On the rendering side, staff work 12 to 14 hour days – a shift and half – while on the refining side they work around the clock with eight to 10 hour shifts. All are typically on a four-day work week. Raw material first goes through an auger and grinder. The ground up fat goes into a melt tank that’s heated with steam, reaching around 180 deg F. Melted fatty tissue goes next to a disintegrator that ruptures the fat cells. This mixture then goes through a horizontal centrifuge which separates the 40 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

solids from the melted fat. More heat is applied and then it goes through a vertical centrifuge where the water is separated from the fat. This material then goes to a holding tank for one to two days and is then further refined – removing any remaining impurities such as trace minerals – depending on how much flavor and shelf life is desired in the finished product. The separate solids are used as a pet food ingredient, while the separated water goes through through several more stages. Fat that is removed at this stage is considered inedible so is used for things such as biodiesel or as an ingredient in soap. The water that is left is then treated and discharged, cleaner than the tap water coming from Los Angeles County Public Works. An actual breakdown from start to finish is, out of the 100 percent raw material, 75 percent is recovered as usable fat, 14 percent solids, and 11 percent water. “The key process through all of this is heat– heat–heat!” says Collins. “That’s the most important part of fat rendering, you need the correct heat and plenty of it.”

future is golden


ack inside the administration side of the building, Ron Gustafson, Eric’s father and president of Coast Packing, shows you a collection of photos dating back to the 1920s to the present. Although the building has been modified numerous times, it

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Raw material exiting the grinder to begin the rendering process. Next comes steam – a lot of steam!

stands out in all of the photos. When concrete walls are that thick, you can’t hide them. The equipment used on the rendering side will probably be replace in four or five years. A sooner purchase will be for a larger melting tank to help keep up with the demand for beef tallow. “During the 1970s was a skittish time for Coast Packing,” says Gustafson, “we were always lucky, though, being in southern California with a large Hispanic and Asian population that even during the ‘bad’ times, was a good market for Coast.” A strategy Coast Packing is trying with Los Angeles and New York City is to create interactive maps on its website ( that shows restaurants and eateries where locals can try dishes prepared with lard or beef tallow. The initial showing in Los Angeles County alone showed 50+ and just scratched the surface. “The best way to really understand how much our food benefits from healthy animal fats – as opposed to heavily processed, industrially produced substitutes – is to go out on the town and experience it,” says Gustafson. “While the conversation about the health benefits of any given food or ingredient is continuous – and, indeed, will probably lack an endpoint in any of our lifetimes — most of us have a pretty fair idea of what tastes good – even if we can’t always say why.”  Another avenue being taken is the creation of the Healthy Fats Coalition that Coast Packing took the lead in creating. If it had a motto, it would be: ‘Nature doesn’t make bad fats – factories do.’ Along with Coast, members include the Weston A Price Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt

nutrition education initiative; Bottega Americano, a popular Italian restaurant in San Diego; Fatworks, a Boulder, Colorado-based online retailer of premium traditional fats – beef tallow, lard and duck fat; Tendergrass Farms, of Floyd, Virginia, supplier of certified organic processed meat and poultry products: Elizabeth Swenson, author of The Artisan Lard Cookbook; and HeartBrand Beef/Akaushi Cattle, Flatonia, Texas, among others. In her 2014 New York Times bestseller, Big Fat Surprise (Simon & Schuster), Nina Teicholz wrote: “The rush to banish animal fats from our diets has exposed us to the health risks of [artificial] trans fats and oxidizing vegetable oils. If we had not abandoned meat and dairy, we could still be using lard, tallow, and butter as our principal fats for cooking and eating. These fats are stable, do not oxidize, and have been consumed since the beginning of recorded human history. “If there’s a silver lining to those low-fat years, it’s this: we learned that fat is the soul of flavor,” said Teicholz. “Food is tasteless and cooking nearly impossible without fat. Fat is essential in the kitchen to produce crispness and to thicken sauces. It is crucial in conveying flavors. It makes baked goods flaky, moist, and light. And fat has many other, essential functions in cooking and baking.” All of this is good news for Coast Packing Company. “We struggled for years, saw our overall market disappearing, but the times have changed. What’s old is new; I always believed animal fats would be a golden opportunity,” says Gustafson.

May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 41

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Seven Ways to Reduce Chemical Use in a Wastewater DAF System Chemicals tends to be the biggest operating expense in a rendering plant’s wastewater treatment, but there are ways of reducing this. Adriaan van der Beek of FRC Systems reports for MPJ


ach type of meat processing has unique wastewater challenges that environmental managers must consider. Poultry offal is characterized by high loads of solids, oils, and grease, as well as feather waste. Cattle wastewater presents high blood loads, as well as paunch contents. The beef waste stream also tends to have a much higher grit content, which can damage equipment. Regardless of the type of meat processing or rendering facility, wastewater with heavy loads of fats, oils, grease and solids is produced. Before sending that water down the sewer drain, pre-treatment is required to remove as much of these solids and oils as possible. While removing these contaminants is simple with a properly designed wastewater treatment strategy, devising the most cost-effective treatment process is where facilities directors stand to make the most meaningful impact on their bottom line. The right combination of equipment, chemicals, and training can greatly reduce wastewater expenses. Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) systems have long been a standard technology for this purpose but there are cost considerations to keep in mind. Chemical usage tends to be the greatest operating expense of an industrial wastewater treatment system. Naturally, finding a way to reduce chemical use will lead to uncovering savings. The electrical cost of running a typical (660 gpm)

industrial DAF system at full capacity for 24 hours is roughly $30. Up and downtime affect that figure, but it remains close to constant. Chemical costs, on the other hand, are directly related to flow rate and wastewater composition (i.e. solids concentration, oil content, pH) and can vary widely among applications. Where operating a DAF system for one year might cost $11,000 in electricity, chemical costs can easily be five or six times that much. We outlined seven different ways you can reduce chemical use for the opportunity to save thousands on operational expenses.

Equalize and Mix the Flow

A simple, yet effective way to reduce chemical use is to collect and mix all plant wastewater, rain and yard runoff into a homogeneous solution. Many plants operate multiple shifts with some generating wastewater with more solids than others. Rather than treating that heavy load with extra chemicals, blend it in with the lighter loads to dilute the solids concentration. Then you can flow pace your chemical dosing as opposed to dosing based on peaks and valleys in solids loading.

Use Pre-Screening Equipment

The idea is simple — the more solid contaminants you can remove before using chemicals, the better. Small steps like installing floor drains with tighter screens and allowing heavy solids to settle in a holding tank are all simple strategies to lower the May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 43

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An FRC System wastewater plant

solids loading. Most modern meat processing systems run process wastewater through a rotary drum screen which will actively separate and collect solids from the wastewater. Then, when chemicals are dosed, they go after the solids that are harder to separate instead of the ones that should have been removed mechanically.

achieve this neutralizing effect, but that is not their intended purpose. Instead, using less-expensive pH reagents (i.e. sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid) to achieve neutralization is the right way to go about it. Not only does it make economic sense, but it’s better for the overall wastewater treatment process.

Calibrate Dosing Pumps

In DAF systems, chemical dosing pumps inject a stream of liquid chemical into a mixing tank or pipe flocculator, what happens to the chemical thereafter depends on the design of the equipment. Chemical reaction tanks use mechanical agitators to blend the chemical with incoming wastewater and do so quite well, barring adequate tank size and mixing velocity. Flocculators rely on shear force to disperse chemicals as water moves through the serpentine structure. Both systems can work in place of the other, though flocculators are much less-expensive than the alternative. Chemical reaction tanks can better disperse chemicals by slowing the feed flow rate. Pipe flocculators are designed to maintain a specific flow velocity to disperse and mix chemicals. Whichever method your system employs, make sure you’re following the specified operational procedures.

Liquid chemical feed pumps come in three main forms: peristaltic, motor driven and electric metering, each with its own application-specific advantages. Regardless of the type of pump your plant employs, liquid feed pumps must be calibrated and re-calibrated. Use a graduated cylinder to measure the volume of water moved through the pump in one minute. Repeat the minute-test on four or five different settings between 10 percent to 90 percent capacity. If your pump moves 35 ml/min when you set it to 30 ml/min, it’s overdosing by 15 percent. That could amount to thousands of dollars in no time. Calibrate your pumps.

Adjust pH with Correct Chemicals

Metal-based coagulants used in wastewater treatment are effective only within neutral pH ranges. When wastewater has a high pH, acidulation is required to bring it to neutral. Aluminum and iron based coagulants are acidic in nature and can 44 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

Disperse Chemicals Effectively

Treat to Permit Requirements

If your permit limit for TSS is <250 mg/L, you’re equally as free to discharge at 200 mg/L as you are

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at 20 mg/L. Some chemical suppliers may show you a jar of clear water where they’ve reduced TSS to <10 mg/L. The thing is, you don’t need to treat to <10 mg/L, you only need to beat 250 mg/L. While going right up to 249 mg/L for TSS is not advisable, you may have the opportunity to reduce chemical use to what you need to comply with your permit. The general axiom is to use the least amount of chemical necessary to meet the treatment requirements.

Jar Test, Jar Test, Jar Test

The easiest and most immediate way to reduce chemical use is to draw wastewater samples and test dosing rates. Take 100 ml of wastewater, use a pipette to drop in 1 ml of coagulant, and give it a stir. If you see adequate coagulation, you’re good to go. If DAF effluent quality starts creeping too close to the limit, jar test again and adjust your dosing rate.

frc systems

One Final Note

There are many cases where attempting to save money on operations by eliminating chemistry altogether is absolutely the wrong choice. Many


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suspended solids will remain suspended without the addition of coagulants or flocculants to bind them into larger, floatable flocs. A well designed DAF system can still remove a significant portion of these solids without added chemistry, however the float sludge is often very watery and the effluent quality is not as good as it could be. This is simply shifting the cost of chemistry in the DAF system to the operations of the sludge management and biological treatment processes. In other cases, the value in using chemistry is realized in the recovered product from the DAF system. For example, a rendering facility might employ a DAF system to recover solids for reprocessing. Without chemistry, they recover a certain percentage of the solids, which add to their bottom line. With chemistry, they recover 5 times as many solids and add even more to their bottom line. The extra cost for the chemistry easily pays for itself in the increase in recovered product. It’s important to weigh the options before heading too far down one path. Working with a solution provider, such as FRC Systems (www., to evaluate your full process stream will pay dividends in the long run.

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May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 45

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Better fat recovery

cst wastewater

Environmentally sustainable Induced Air Flotation from CST Wastewater Solutions opens new markets for recovery of high temperature fats and solids


highly effective flotation cell that allows fats and solids recovery in high temperature applications has been developed by Australasian and Asia-Pacific waste water treatment specialist CST Wastewater Solutions Pty Ltd of Australia. The company’s new Induced Air Flotation (IAF) technology is a major advance on one of the world’s most preferred and simplest flotation technologies for industrial applications, Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF), says CST. DAF is a tried and trusted treatment of industrial wastewater effluents produced by food, beverage. and primary processing plants, but it has shortcomings when applied to demanding high temperature applications for which IAF is purpose-designed, including the treatment of high 46 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

temperature rendering waste in meat works and Clean in Place (CIP) wastewater in food factories. “Applications for which DAF is suitable are integral to the economies of many countries in Australasia, Asia, Africa, America, and Europe,” says Michael Bambridge, CST Wastewater Solutions managing director. However, in high temperature applications (ie wastewater above 80 deg C), DAF has a number of limitations, including: the solubility of air is very low, so very high recycle ratios are required; cavitation is a problem in recycle pumps; higher saturator pressure is required; and large cells are needed to accommodate increased recycle flow. CST Wastewater Solutions says that it has overcome these problems by introducing an energy efficient IAF high temperature cell to provide a different method of introducing pressurized air into the flotation process.

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The high temperature IAF cell uses a spinning disk to provide pressurized air for vortex bubble formation in the volumes required in high temperature applications. The flotation cell is based on a multi-stage separation process, with an internal launder to ensure the float product produced from the cell remains at the same temperature as the liquid, so as to facilitate sludge transfer. “This is essential to the efficiency of the system in overcoming previous barriers to high-temperature flotation,” says Bambridge, whose company is widely experienced with DAF systems over more than 25 years. His company produces DAF and, where required, complementary environmentally efficient anaerobic digestion systems for cleaner waste water and local electricity production for major meat, food, and beverage operations. To ensure the practicality of the process for particular applications, CST uses a pilot IAF cell to assess the technology’s efficiency, scalability and design data, says Bambridge. “DAF’s great strengths as a primary treatment include relative simplicity in installation and proven


Wa s t e

Wat er

cost-efficiency in separating oil and suspended solids from wastewater in applications as diverse as dairy, beef, pork poultry, grains, cereals and crops such as beets, cassava, potatoes, soy, wheat, corn and sugar cane. Compact and robust DAF systems achieve environmental sustainability by reducing Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) loading by the removal of high COD contaminants including fats, oils and greases, color, organic matter, and colloidal material. “The new IAF technology extends the efficiency and environmental sustainability benefits into new markets, by extending the capacity of flotation systems to generate bubbles at temperatures above 80 deg C, the usual limit for DAF systems. This opens up the potential for new levels of efficiency in high temperature applications, which also benefit from reduced energy consumption. “By eliminating bubble solubility issues at higher temperatures – including removing the need for higher pressures and larger cells – the new design is energy-efficient and sustainable over the longer term, as well as highly effective immediately upon installation in oil-water separation at elevated temperatures,” says Bambridge.

Proven centrifuges



upps Separation Technology is the latest addition to The Dupps Company’s growing family of rendering and process solution groups. It offers a line of proven Dupps-Gratt decanters and centrifuges manufactured to ISO 9001/2008 standards and backed by an experienced service and support team. Dupps-Gratt two- and three-phase solid bowl decanters are designed for superior performance over a wide range of flow rates. High-speed, high-G disc style vertical centrifuges provide a significantly increased solids settling area, and adapt to a variety of process applications. In addition, a staff of full-time service technicians is experienced in all aspects of decanter and centrifuge service, including bowl, bearings, seals, and hardfacing maintenance and repair of Dupps-Gratt and other brands of equipment. The group also stocks a full inventory of replacement parts, so customer operations can be maintained at peak operational efficiency with minimum downtime. May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 47

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Chicken packs will never be the same The most overused words in any product review are ‘unique’ and ‘revolutionary’. But what MPJ saw being introduced at London’s recent International Food & Drink Event/ Pro2Pac lives up to any – and all – hype


n both the US and EU, governments are trying to change the way products are being labelled due to the vast majority of all consumers being utterly confused by such expressions at ‘Best by Date’ or ‘Sell by Date’. What if there was a way for consumers to tell instantly at five paces away how fresh the chicken is in a supermarket package? There is now thanks to a new product by Spanish company Chimigraf which will knock the industry off its feet. Chimigraf, which sells inks and varnishes for flexography rotogravure and digital printing systems in over 60 countries, has developed Freshcode which makes it simple beyond belief to see product freshness, from processing to final consumption. The Freshcode label, patented by Chimigraf, is a unique visual indicator and the only one of its kind on the market that displays the guaranteed real freshness of packaged chicken breasts. “After seven-years of tenacious development we are launching the unique indicator that will inform retailers, producers, and consumers about the real freshness of the poultry products,” Sergio Segui, Freshcode business development manager, tells MPJ. “We hope this innovation will contribute to intelligent packaging being present in our day to day life.” Segui tells MPJ that Freshcode’s color indicator lets consumers, distributors, and packers know the ideal consumption period for filleted and deboned chicken breasts in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). “The white center of the Freshcode label impregnated with our intelligent ink, which

48 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

captures the emission of volatile gases released during the spoilage of chicken breasts in MAP,” says Segui. “This intelligent ink gradually changes color to indicate the level of freshness. The product is no longer suitable for consumption when the label turns fully black.” MPJ sees the benefits of Freshcode across distribution chains, processors, and consumers. For distribution chains, Freshcode should increase sales by offering a product that brings added value and reliability to the consumer, ensuring that the entire product sold is fresh. This will allow individual food safety controls, along with allowing monitoring of supplies – and suppliers – in the distribution chain. Was the cold chain interrupted with your product? You’ll know through Freshcode’s indication. For poultry processors and packers, Freshcode will improve brand positioning. Your product will stand out in the supermarket shelf. Of all meat products, consumers are the most suspicious about the freshness of poultry. Without squinting to try to read a product label in 7pt characters, they will instantly know if it’s fresh or not. For consumers, Freshcode will improve food safety by reducing the risk of illness and poisoning. At the top, too, of everyone’s agenda is reducing food waste. Consumers will be able to see if the poultry in their refrigerator is still fresh instead of being unsure of throwing it away. Segui tells MPJ that Freshcode will be sold at the end of the year. Although it now being made specifically for chicken breasts, Chimigraf will ultimately be producing Freshcode for the entire fresh chicken range. MPJ believes Freshcode will not only become a major hit, it will change forever how chicken is sold.

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May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 49

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The future of food packaging:

three trends for 2017 From when the first Roman baker put a loaf of bread in a cotton sack, food packaging’s main goal has remained the same: protect the product. Major changes, however, are coming to though to the process, reports packaging engineer Cord Unbehaun of Stellar


here’s a lot happening in the food and beverage packaging industry, and we’ve already seen a lot of change this year. Packaging is where food processing meets marketing, and it’s often the first touch point between your consumer and your brand. Ultimately, packaging is an extension of your brand and can have a “personality” of its own — so it’s important to consider what your packaging is saying about you. Of course consumer demands and external pressures are always changing, but I think there are three major trends on the horizon for the packaging and processing industry; the entire packaging process is being automated; large conglomerates are buying up smaller vendors; and eco-friendly packaging continues to be a large focus (especially in beverage). So what do these trends mean for food and beverage processors? Let’s unpack them.



e know automation has grown exponentially in food and beverage plants everywhere, but a world where packaging and processing lines are 100% automated from beginning to end isn’t far in our future. In fact, that’s already the case in some places. We’re seeing the shift from human to robot across every conventional touch point in a facility, including: depalletizing; unpacking; and primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging. Human intervention is slowly being replaced with 50 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

machines that can accomplish the same tasks with a few taps of a touch screen. One area I’m seeing more of this trend is in quality control inspection. For example, take bottle filling, which typically involves inspection of incoming materials and inspection of the final product post-filling. Previously, workers had to take a bottle from the line, inspect it and release it. Now that can be done online and in-line, effectively taking the human interaction out of the process. Thanks to automation, bottles can be inspected as they’re being filled. Some view this shift to mean less jobs on facility floors, but it’s also increasing the demand for more specialized workers to operate these automated systems. Regardless of your perspective, the growing prevalence of automation is making packaging and processing lines more efficient.

mergers and acquisitions


nother developing trend involves a strategic avenue some businesses are taking. A number of big companies are getting bigger by purchasing smaller, more specialized vendors. Having a wide array of offerings and machinery allows these companies to provide a variety of services under one umbrella. While this means fewer small companies, it benefits food processors looking for a one-stopshop. One example is Kentucky-based packaging machinery company Pro Mach, which could have multiple pieces of equipment that one original equipment manufacturer (OEM) might not have. So what does this mean for food and beverage processors? If you’re building, expanding or renovating a facility, a bigger one-stop-shop can

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speed up your project. A larger suppliers could provide the various equipment required, integrate them and deliver them within a short time period — often in half the time compared to sourcing from multiple vendors.

Eco-friendly focus


or some time now, the beverage industry has been exploring ways to make packaging more environmentally friendly, and that effort is continuing to evolve. Among the priorities are: making bottles lighter; reducing cap size; and encouraging recyclability. It’s not just the big players anymore, either. It seems everyone is trying lightweight in 2017. Not only can eco-friendly packaging reduce your company’s carbon footprint, but it can save you money as well — sometimes. While going lightweight can often be a win-win, you have to be smart about it. Sometimes reducing your primary packaging weight can force you to increase your secondary packaging to ensure your product can safely withstand the environment in storage and distribution. There are a lot of ways packaging can get beat up in these environments. I often work with clients to strike that balance of “green” packaging and cost-effectiveness. If you’re among the processors looking to lower the weight of your packaging this year, bear in mind it can be a double-edged sword. Tackle the design and approach efficiently to make sure that while you’re helping save the planet, you’re saving money, too. To learn more about how packaging can work for you, email Cord

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Reduce salt, nitrates, and increase shelf life What’s not to love?

No one disputes this. HPP machines are big, heavy, and expensive – but boy does the technology work. The Nov/Dec 2016 issue of MPJ excited many of you about the potential of high pressure processing (HPP) for meat. In this follow-up we hope to answer many of your questions.


n the early 1990s in San Francisco Jamba juice was like no other. Cold pressed and unpasteurized, the flavors, quality, and high cost were a harbinger as to what would come in the Bay Area and then spread out. But, one problem with it for retailers was that the shelf life at best for some flavors was only three days and that was pushing it. The last thing you ever wanted was a customer sticking an off-bottle of carrot juice under your nose. But that was then. Jamba juice – like all other quality juice and smoothie bottlers, protein shake makers, breakfast drink producers – discovered HPP (high pressure processing) and the market has never been the same. While on many of the bottles shelf life claims range from 30 to 45 days, this is one time that manufactures are exaggerating in the opposite direction. The truth is, with the right packaging and product temperature control, shelf life can go to 90 days or longer. You can easily draw a line down a juice company’s spreadsheets that will be obvious. On one side is before HPP; the other side – when profits started shooting up – was after HPP. If there is but one thing driving the $23-billion-dollar (US figures alone) juice and smoothie industry, it’s HPP. What HPP did for the drinks industry, it can do the same for processed meat as well. According to Liam Murphy of HPP Tolling in Ireland, the advantages of HPP for the meat industry are numerous. One of the major reasons why meat/poultry processing companies, such as

52 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

Tyson, Foster Farms, Hormel, Perfect Fit Meals, Excelline Foods, Maple Leaf, Abraham, Moira Mac’s, and numerous others, have chosen HPP is to extend their product shelf life for lunch meats. Subway stipulates HPP as a food safety step for deli meats bound for its restaurants. Even Jennie-O is using HPP to extend the shelf life and reduce the chance of pathogens in its ground turkey chubs. As long as the cold chain remains intact, 80 to 90 days with lunch meats is possible. A direct benefit of this is that the much longer product shelf life means there will be less product returns due to date code expiry. “In tests that we’ve done at HPP Tolling, chicken has lasted for 60 days, with beef 90 days,” says Murphy. This, he says, allows companies to expand into export markets with shipping time not a worry. Running your product through HPP can eliminate harmful bacteria such as salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, allowing for the production of safer food. For those companies exporting to the USA or Japan, HPP ensures the total elimination of Listeria for export requirements. However, as Rob Habgood, commercial of Deli 24 warned in the Nov/Dec MPJ issue, garbage in results in garbage out; you cannot expect to have contaminated products become completely “clean” after being processed with HPP. If a product has a high bacterial content before going through HPP, the chances are it still has some bacteria in the product afterwards. One source of pathogens can happen towards the end of processing, when the product goes from large to small and is packaged. But Murphy

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points out like with juice, meat companies can process through HPP their product in its final consumer packaging. This eliminates the risk of recontamination.

reducing sodium


recent study by the University College Cork (UCC), wanted to see if HPP could be used to reduce the amount of salt currently used in hams. “One of the main approaches to salt reduction is the use of salt replacers. Therefore, the objective of this study was to use response surface methodology to develop an optimized low-salt ham with similar sensory overall acceptability as hams on the Irish market (2% added salt) through the use of salt replacers containing flavor enhancers and hurdles including HPP and a mix of organic acids,” says study leader Ciara O’Neill. For the ham, results showed that the low-salt hams that were not HPP had the shortest shelf-life (~20 days) compared to control samples (high salt content) which had a longer shelf-life (~40 days); however, the optimized low-salt ham which were HPP had the longest shelf-life (~60 days). For the frankfurters, the results showed that the

hpp tolling

A product tube being loaded into a Hiperbaric machine at HPP Tolling in Dubline, Ireland. The company sees a big potential for meat producers who use HPP.

How does HPP work The high pressure process starts by placing packaged products in a cylinder which is then loaded into a high pressure chamber which looks similar to a torpedo tube. If the products are raw, they’ll stay raw; if cooked, they won’t be cooked any further. Because this is the final packaging stage, with products not treated and then repacked, once treated there can be no further contamination. Packaging has to have a degree of flexibility; no glass jars or metal cans. Once the loading is finished, the chamber is filled with clean water and then pressurized via pumps employing isostatic pressure that is transmitted through the package into the food itself for a set period of time, usually around 3-5 minutes, for a total time from load to unload of about 10 minutes. For more information, see MPJ Nov/Dec 2016.

May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 53

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What is a tolling center? More than 200 industrial-scale HPP machines are in service in North America, with most owned by food companies that primarily use them for their own products. However, a growing tend is tolling centers where the HPP equipment is owned by an independent processor, which allows companies to take advantage of HPP without the cost of a machine. The equipment is available to all producers with no exclusivity arrangements. After visiting several plants using HPP and visiting manufacturers, Liam Murphy decided on Hiperbaric for HPP Tolling and he is pleased with the decision. The other major HPP manufacturing company is Avure.

54 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

hpp tolling

Raw products do not cook while being processing in HPP. The key with packaging is that it must be flexible.

reformulated low-salt sample that was not HPP had the shortest shelf-life (~30 days) and that the control samples (full salt content) had a shelf-life of ~60 days; however, the reformulated frankfurter at optimal conditions of organic acid and HPP low-salt frankfurters had the longest shelf-life (~80 days). When it comes to stating that your product is produced using complete additive-free preservation due to HPP, Murphy agrees that this can become a gray area. For example, all “natural, nitrate-free” processed meat still contains nitrates, though coming from naturally high-in-nitrates celery powder as opposed to traditional nitrate/nitrite (see MPJ Jan/Feb 2017). As far as MPJ as been to ascertain, even with those companies using HPP, there are no processed meat products which do totally eliminate nitrate/nitrite as a preservative or color enhancer. But there are claims of reduction. A development that Murphy finds interesting is the use of HPP to produce rare hamburgers. In the USA and Europe, health agencies and restaurants are leery about giving customers ‘rare’ hamburgers, instead of cooking to ‘medium’ where the chance of pathogens is reduced considerably. But, in a US FDA evaluation of HPP and ground beef, it found that “ground beef can be pasteurized by HPP to

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eliminate E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, salmonella, or staphylococcus". Beef trimmings can be run through HPP and then used to make the burgers. A problem Murphy sees with this method is the risk of recontamination when the trimmings are then ground and the burgers formed. Cargill is using HPP for burgers, but for the company it’s about extending shelf life as opposed to cooking rare which makes sense. In a study HPP burgers maintained quality for up to 42 days as opposed to seven days.

stay flexible


kin packs and MAP (modified atmosphere packaging), and active or intelligent packaging can be used with HPP, says Murphy with flexibility in the material being the key. For meat products, skin packs are more common. If MAP is used, the gas needs to kept low, around 10 percent. What is hard to visualize is just how high of pressure HPP uses; but equally hard to picture is how any packaging survives under this pressure.

A nuclear submarine’s crush depth is 2,400 feet; the pressure inside an HPP chamber is equivalent to 216,430 feet. That said, MPJ has watched small pots of yogurt in flimsy containers come out of the process looking zero worse for wear. The most common packaging materials used for HPP are polypropylene (PP), polyester tubes, polyethylene (PE) pouches, and nylon cast polypropylene pouches. Package type, size and shape are also critical in terms of maximizing the number of packages, which can be fitted in the chamber. Therefore, packaging aspect is essential for the successful application of the HPP technology – and proper package design can contribute to more economical processing and longer product shelf-life. Murphy cautions that you need to look at the lifespan of the packaging. If a product is going to have a shelf life of up to 100 days, a lot can happen during that period. For flexible pouches, sealing is an important point and seal strength needs to be maintained during processing in order to avoid product leaks or to have the water, which the HPP uses as a medium, doesn’t infiltrate the product during the pressurization.


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May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 55

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Packaging products

Quality codes in greasy application

Almost doubles shelf life

Linx Printing Technologies has introduced an ink that is able to adhere to substrates covered with an oily or greasy film, making it ideal for a variety of food and light engineering applications. The new Linx Black grease-penetrating ink 1063, which has been specifically developed for the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s marketleading Linx 8900 Series continuous ink jet (CIJ) coders, is a dye MEK based ink. Its contains a black dye which delivers excellent contrast and legibility on transparent or pale colored materials, while its special formulation enables the printers to code through a light film of oil, grease or condensation, and to preserve code quality if the code is exposed to these later in the process. Typical applications include a variety of food packs, such as meat, spreads and salad containers, and dairy.

Linpacâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rfresh Evolve is a vacuum skin pack that has been designed to maximize the shelf appeal of meat, fish and poultry. Packaged fresh hamburgers have almost double the shelf life if packed in Rfresh, says the company. As well as enhanced shelf presence, Rfresh Evolve offers further core benefits to packers and retailers including extended shelf life, reduced food waste, supply chain efficiency. and increased sales. Manufactured from up to 95 per cent in house supercleaned post-consumer PET recyclate, with a tight aspect that results in fewer leakages and returns, the Evolve range has in-built tamper evidence; the barrier skin film whitens on peel revealing whether a pack has been opened or not. On-pack labelling s are available, says the company.

Paying too much for labels

Longer shelf life

Smith Corona has been putting ink on paper since 1886. While know for almost 100-years for its typewriters and mechanical calculators, the company now produces thermal labels, direct thermal labels, and thermal ribbons used in warehouses primarily for barcode labels. Smith Coronaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new film-lined labels are made completely in-house . The company has total control of all stages of production, cutting out the middlemen allowing their 40 professional inside sales associates to sell directly to the end user customer at low prices.

With the appearance of a tray, but with the shelf life of a high barrier shrink bag, the PremiumFresh 45 black printed shrink bag is a supermarket-ready package with a variety of extra benefits. Benefits include puncture resistance, extra strong seals, highest shrink rates, brilliant transparency and gloss, and overlap sealing ability. Its shrinking rate of up to 50 percent makes every packaged product visually appealing. Its advanced EVOH barrier protects products against oxygen and other gasses, which translates into longer shelf life.

56 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017


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c o o k in g

a nd

f ry ing

product launches

Splitting gizzards

Small3 for case packing

Bettcher’s AirShirz design takes the effort and hassle out of gizzard splitting, blister trims, breast trims, neck breaking, wing upgrades, and more. The reduced cutting force pneumatic design decreases hand force by 90%. It’s an effective tool that diminishes the risks to employees typically associated with cumulative trauma disorders. And, because the AirShirz perform like scissors, there is a short learning curve. The blade position is fully controllable as with conventional scissors and allows for the operator to use with ease. There are over 50 standard blades available to handle unique and difficult requests.

Specialists for customized end-packaging machines, Meypack, is presenting a case packer at Interpack. This machine is specifically designed to meet the current demands of the market by embracing three trends; small products in small formations packed within a small space. The food industry is faced with a new challenge to meet the increasing demand for small packaging units. In addition, the space in production facilities is often limited. The Small3 packs small, sensitive products into small formations on a compact machine requiring minimal floor space. The company make claims for its hygiene and efficiency in particular.

Turkey keel strip

Hand shred look

Prime Equipment Group’s KSR-1T Turkey Keel Strip Remover is designed to remove the keel strip from a full turkey breast fillet, cutting the fillet into three pieces: two breast lobes and a center keel strip. Its high degree of accuracy and consistency improves yields over hand processing, and requires only a single loader in a low-stress capacity that does not require extensive trim training. Primes says the KSR is effective at 22-25 whole breasts per minute. In a process line it can be positioned downline from whole breast removal.

The SH-50 Meat Shredder from Fusion Tech is a heavyduty shredder designed to create shredded and pulled product almost instantly. As a continuous flow machine, it is capable of shredding up to 10,000 pounds of cooked meat per hour. The design of the SH-50 Meat Shredder pulls the muscle fibers apart, rather than cutting or tearing the meat, giving you a truly “hand-pulled” look. Easy speed controls allow you to adjust appearance from fine to coarsely shredded meats to meet the needs of your customers.

58 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

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Contract sanitation

Cloud-based training

Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) announces an expanded offering to complement its core contract sanitation services. The Value-Added Services Program (VASP) assists meat processors with a variety of nonproduction jobs, saving costs, helping overcome staffing issues, and allowing PSSI customers to focus on production. VASP services include: dry pick-up, including tracking pick-up weights so customers can identify potential sources of waste; tub washing and utensil and cart cleaning; trolley room operation and repair; recycling; and janitorial and housekeeping services. There is no doubt that your plant is being cleaned professionally.

Enlighten Team is an innovative new e-learning and training product assisting food manufacturers to understand and address food safety culture and work towards becoming “audit-ready”. From leading UK training company To-Train, Enlighten is a cloud-based training tool featuring interactive e-learning courses which combine to ensure compliance to the standards recognised in the food manufacturing sector. Backed by the latest academic research and findings on food safety culture and what is needed to create a safe food manufacturing environment, Enlighten, for the first time, enables companies to measure their food safety culture.

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ne w s

Right time, right place for new cold storage facility


massive new cold storage warehouse has opened in Sacramento, California, which will bring much needed additional capacity to northern California’s meat industry, including those processors using the Port of Oakland. Built and managed by United States Cold Storage, it is so new that when MPJ toured the plant, the receptionist wasn’t sure where all the coffee machines were located. That said, an observed steady stream of 18-wheelers showed that the 6.8 million-cubic-foot facility is already on the cold-chain radar. The Sacramento warehouse is fully racked with 60-foot refrigerated docks and multiple storage rooms – each with flexible storage temperature controls ranging from -20F to +45F – giving it a current total of 31,000 pallet positions. There are 20 special built dock doors which allow for goods to be brought in directly from trailers with no loss of cool. This is important due to the high temperatures the Central Valley gets during the summer. In addition to traditional storage and distribution, the site offers multi-vendor consolidation, crossdocking, a dedicated quality lab, and a temperature controlled special handling room. Cooling comes from 60 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

a state-of-the-art cascade CO2 refrigeration system. The plant is inside McClellan Park, a ‘retired’ air force base located to the north of the city. East/ West Interstate I-80 runs next to the plant, making for extremely fast and easy delivery and pickup. North/ South running I-5 is about 15 to 20 minutes away. A special-built railroad spur, served by both the Union Pacific and BNSF railroads, runs directly to the back of the plant. While the air force is gone, the US Coast Guard still uses the base for its Hercules C-130 aircraft and the runway is considered active. Will it be developed for air freight, however, is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, for anyone requiring air freight, Sacramento’s international airport in nearby. Plant General Manager Steve Palefsky tells MPJ that a cold storage plant should be seen as a partner to the processing industry. “A rancher or a chicken plant CEO has expertise in processing and packaging, our expertise is in storage and distribution,” says Palefsky. “Our job here is to inventory, rotate, and recall if necessary through full product tracing. Here at United States Cold Storage, we consider ourselves a vital link in your prod-

uct. We know what’s required to get from point A to B, to C to D.” Depending on traffic, Oakland’s container port is about two hours away; Los Angeles can be reached in seven to nine hours away, again, traffic permitting. Even Tacoma, Washington is not out of the picture, being around a 14-hour drive. These drive-times and the central location of USCS’s Sacramento plant could be an important factor if shippers need temporary storage. A Phase II has been planned for the Sacramento facility, which Palefsky says will be more specialized for meat. This will include a USDA inspection room. “Anyone can build a nice looking plant, but how it’s operated is what sets us apart. We tailor our technology to the customer’s needs, not the other way around,” says Palefsky. “We have a great team here that puts customers’ needs first.” With roots dating back to 1899, USCS has long served a diverse customer base with requirements ranging from primary storage to fully integrated third-party logistics. The company offers more than 273 million cubic feet of temperature controlled warehouse and distribution space in 39 facilities located in 13 US states.

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Mega alliances formed


hree shipping alliances, comprising of 11 shippers, will handle the majority of the important trade between Asia-Europe and trans-Pacific routes. This will mean fewer choices for agriculture producers dependent on exports such as Australian/New Zealand lamb and US beef. The three major groupings, called 2M, Ocean Alliance, and THE Alliance, have cleared most regulatory issues. According to the Wall Street Journal, this concentration of power has raised concerns among

regulators and cargo owners about price fixing and reduced services, although the Federal Maritime Commission said it saw no evidence of price collusion among the alliances. Cargo owners say they are seeing up to 20 percent fewer containership sailings across main trade routes and a 10 percent drop in port calls since the introduction of bigger vessels, known as Triple Es, favored by the alliances. Ports in the meantime are scrambling to dredge deeper harbors and install bigger cranes to handle the

Atlanta Hub hit hard


tlanta is not only just a major airport hub; it is also one for goods shipped by road. However, this hub is looking at major delays for some time after a massive fire damaged a section of Interstate 85. State officials are saying it could be months to demolish and then rebuild the freeway, which at the stretch damaged, handles a

quarter million vehicles a day. Its location is a central point in Atlanta’s web of major roadways. Already Atlanta has some of the most congested roads in the USA, this will only make it worse. State transportation officials say the cost of repairs could run as high as $40 million. Blame for the fire is being placed on a 39-year-old drug addict.

US truckers need training


ime has run out for US trucking companies hoping to put off required food sanitation FDA training; the law went into affect on 6 April. As part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, carriers responsible for sanitary

condition during food transportation must train drivers to deal with potential food safety problems, as well as teach them basic sanitary practices. There is one problem, however. The FDA has yet to finalize its training program.

slump is over for shipping rates


emand for ocean and air freight has been better than expected this year, according to DHL.On routes between Asia and Europe, customers are having to wait up to four or five weeks, instead of one to two weeks

before goods can be placed onaboard ships, says Reuters. This is good news for shipping companies, who have seen rates fall for close to 10 years due to an over-supply of container ships, but bad news for exporters.

Triple Es. Former executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, Geraldine Knatz, says that the shipping alliances have all the power and it is imperative that the ports also merge or form alliances. It’s all a double-edged sword for meat/poultry exporters. Bigger ships can mean cheaper shipping costs – but fewer ports visited by these vessels. A port alliance could mean that ports will specialize in different types of cargo, rather than competing. But this could lead then to fewer shipping options.

kokubu wants china


ajor Japanese food wholesaler Kokubu Group wants to expand its operations in China figuring demand for Japanese food will remain high, especially among China’s affluent. The company bought 80 percent of Shenzhen Ichiban Foods. SIF is a large Japanese importer located in Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong. SIF’s network covers 38 companies, in around 1,400 stores across China. Kokubu deals with around 10,000 Japanese food makers which it hopes to promote in China, along with Japanese restaurant operators.

walmart distributoin


almart announced plans to build a massive $135 million distribution center in Mobile, Alabama, which should create around 550 full-time jobs. The new storage and crossdock facility will be Walmarts fourth distribution center in Alabama and will likely create a boost to the Port of Mobile.

May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 61

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Store’s rotisserie chicken checks boxes


hopRite and Perdue Chicken have announced the launch of a new rotisseriestyle, cage-free chicken raised without the use of antibiotics, ever. The chicken is part of ShopRite’s growing commitment to offering customers delicious, convenient and “better for you” meal solutions that meet their needs and fit their busy lifestyles. Developed in partnership with Perdue Farms and marketed under the “ShopRite Kitchen” by Perdue, the chicken is the first offering of its kind available at all ShopRite stores. “We’re proud to be bringing this unique product to market,” says

Geoffrey Wexler, vice president, food service division at ShopRite, who reports that the National Chicken Council estimates that 900 million rotisserie chickens are sold each year in the United States. “We know our customers are looking for products that they can feel good about serving their families and we believe this chicken, raised entirely without antibiotics on an all-vegetarian diet, is in line with the changing health and wellness needs of our shoppers. Rotisserie chicken is a great, proteinpacked, grab-and-go product that grows in popularity each year,” says Wexler.

Colonel invades former USSR


S Yum Brands, a fast food corporation operating Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and WingStreet worldwide, plans by 2020 to increase the number of KFC restaurants in Russia and CIS countries to 1000 outlets, announced Raisa Polyakova, general director of KFC Russia. Currently, the company manages 600 KFC restaurants in Russia and the CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States encompassing most

of the former USSR countries). “We're going to keep on increasing the number of restaurants in Russia and the CIS, and we plan to manage up to 1,000 outlets by 2020,” she said, noting that this year 100 restaurants are planned to be opened. The company intends to actively develop in the regions of Russia, using a strategy of opening restaurants in cities with population of less than 100,000 people.

Sandwich chain goes with GAP


enver-based Quiznos announced plans to align its supply chain with Global Animal Partnership (GAP) animal welfare standards for raising chickens. Quiznos has locations across the United States and 31 countries. GAP standards assess the level of welfare of animals on-farm and during transport, including giving the animals space, light and other environmental considerations. Quiznos said that by 2024, 100 percent of its chicken supply will be GAP-certified and processed using a pre-shackle, 62 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

multi-step controlled-atmosphere stunning system. In 2016, Quiznos announced plans to phase in the exclusive use of cage-free eggs by 2025. One of Quiznos' key guiding principles is to never compromise on the health and safety of its customers and the people it works with. To that end, Quiznos states that it is committed to extending social responsible practices throughout its supply chain. This includes to the meat and egg suppliers the company works with.

The chicken is the latest in a new range of products recently debuted by ShopRite that address changing customer needs and buying preferences. In December, ShopRite introduced its new Wholesome Pantry line, a private label line featuring hundreds of food products that are free from artificial preservatives, colors and additives. “Perdue has long been a valued partner of ShopRite, and we look forward to working together and continuing to provide delicious new options for our customers,” says Wexler. “We’re confident our shoppers will find this new chicken a meal the family will enjoy.”

Almost half say Brands not truthful


n case there was ever any doubt, the USA's polictical divide is making life difficult for marekters, reports, AdvertisingAge. Some 42 percent of Americans find brands and companies less truthful today than 20 years ago, according to a survey presented by McCann at the 4A's Transformation conference. At the same time, 84 percent of the respondents to another survey said that they believe brands have the power to make the world a better place. Some 48 percent said brands need a strong identity and clear role. So what are marketers supposed to do? Panelists discussing the study advised steering clear of politics unless they relate to a social cause that's integral to your brand identity. Marketeters' compass should be purpose, not politics they said. And, they should speak to similarities among consumers, which McCann called 'glue', instead of differences.

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Sauce and buttermilk chicken tenders


cDonald’s said it is testing a new buttermilkbattered chicken tender recipe in North Carolina that is free of artificial ingredients. The Buttermilk Crispy Tenders contain 100-percent white meat and no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or MSG. Like all of McDonald’s chicken, the new tenders are made from chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine, the company said. The new item comes in different portion sizes and is served with one of a handful of sauces, including a new Signature Sauce described as “slightly tangy and sweet.” The tenders will be available in 138 restaurants in the Charlotte area. “This is the South, and in the South you have to have good chicken! There are a lot of competitors in this market, and we wanted to play in that arena and expand our chicken offerings,” local McDonald’s owner/operator Jeff Stanton said in a statement. McDonald’s credited the intro-

duction of its Buttermilk Crispy Chicken sandwich for helping lift sales in 2015 and launch of McNuggets without artificial ingredients for a boost last year. In Canada, McDonald’s has announced that supermarkets will soon stock bottles of McDonald’s Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and McChick-

en sauces – the very same formulas that customers could formerly taste only by buying the sandwiches. The company has sold a limited number of bottles in Australian and USA McDonald’s before and has auctioned off special bottles for charity. This is the first time though it’s being sold at supermarkets.

Food firms warned about hold music


ood manufacturing firms’ call handling standards have come into question as the result of a major new study into telephone practice. The research conducted by audio branding specialist PHMG, which audited 194 firms in the food manufacturing trade, discovered the large majority risk losing custom by subjecting customers to generic music and audio while on hold. Typically, waiting on hold is seen as a major irritation but 52 percent of food manufacturers still leave customers listening to nothing but generic music. A further 22 percent subject callers to beeps, while 19 percent leave them in silence and four percent force them to listen to ringing. Only two percent employ

consistent voice and music messaging – viewed as the best practice approach to handling calls – which is equal to the national average. Mark Williamson, sales and marketing director at PHMG, said: “Call handling remains a critically undervalued element of customer service and marketing. A previous study of 1,000 UK consumers found 73 percent will not do business with a company again if their first call isn’t handled satisfactorily. “Therefore, it is important companies do their utmost to improve the experience. Food manufacturing companies appear to be performing better than the majority of British businesses in this respect but there is still work to be done in providing an experience that keeps callers engaged and entertained.

“Generic music, beeps, ringing or silence convey a message that the customer is not valued, which will only serve to compound any annoyance felt as a result of being made to wait on hold.” The research also found 92 per cent of food manufacturers do not even use auto attendant messaging to greet customers who call up outside of normal working hours. “It’s essential to give careful consideration to what people hear whenever they make contact with your company,” added Williamson. According to a study in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, it's the type of music that people hate. Elevator music feels people with a sense of dread since it is what call centers normally use. Use pop music instead, the study showed. May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 63

we at her

world in

Midwest blazes Three ranch hands died while trying to move their cattle in Texas as wildfires swept across the Lone Star state in March, along with Oklahoma and Kansas. In Oklahoma wildfires killed thousands of pigs at a Smithfield Foods hog farm; 1,900 hogs died in Seaboard Farms in Texas. In Kansas, around 9,000 cattle died in Clark County. According to NOAA, around 1.2 million acres burned in just 24 hours in the region. Unseasonable high temperatures, low humidity, and strong wind gusts created the fire-risk conditions.

Soybeans go Prospects of good weather in the US Midwest, along with the fact that soybeans are cheaper to grow than corn, is prompting US farmers to plant record numbers as farms try to slash costs. This will add to a global glut that is pushing down prices and weighing on the agricultural economy. Brazil and Argentina are already reporting record harvests.

64 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

Corn records Brazil’s corn crop, used mostly for animal feed, is expected to reach 97.71 million metric tons – a new record. For soybeans, despite there being a cool spring this year, yields should reach somewhere between 107 million metric ton to 113 million metric tons. Between Brazil’s high yields of feed crops and the projected US plantings of soybeans, it’s hard to see how farmers will make a profit.

we at her


Dry and warm Europe has experience a warm and relatively dry spring which has promoted fieldwork and crop development over most of the continent. Favorable showers in Russia contrasted with increasing short-term drought in central Ukraineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wheat area.

Starvation looms Hundreds of thousands are facing starvation in East Africa due to political instability and drought conditions. Regardless if the conditions have been man-made or not, millions could be affected in South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. In Kenya, the government has declared a national emergency and Ethiopia is battling a new wave of drought following the strongest El Nino on record. Numbers being batted about range from 5.5 million to 15 million.

Blessing and curse Tropical Cyclone Debbie has been a double edged sword for farmers in Queensland, Australia. Rainfall totals reached 683mm (around 27 inches) in the Mackay region in Queensland, with many other locations reporting rainfall ranging in excess of 200mm (8in). Sugarcane, mangoes, and vegetables took a beating from the storm. That said, the heavy rainfall will increase dam storage levels and soil moisture levels, increasing pasture production opportunities. May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 65

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Pork on show The 2017 World Pork Expo — the world’s largest pork trade show — offers hundreds of exhibitors, free educational seminars, live hog shows and sales, networking opportunities, and much more, making it a must-attend event for all pork professionals. Brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), World Pork Expo takes place from Wednesday, 7 June through Friday, 9 June at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.


his year, the National Pork Producers Council is excited to announce the new World Pork Expo website. With its userfriendly design, the website has everything you need to easily register for Expo and plan a successful visit — including event schedules, exhibitor information, lodging and travel information and much more.

Education & innovation


n 2016, more than 20,000 producers and agriculture professionals, including 1,100 international guests from 35 countries, participated in the three-day exposition. NPPC officials anticipate similar attendance this year. “Anyone involved with pork production, including owners, managers, veterinarians, employees and allied industry, should attend World Pork Expo,” says John Weber, NPPC president and Iowa pork producer. “Expo is truly an international show and offers a great opportunity to interact with producers and companies from other countries, which helps us better understand the global reach of U.S. pork production.” The trade show is the centerpiece of Expo’s international connection, featuring hundreds of companies from throughout the world. The everexpanding trade show, with both indoor and

66 | Meat Packing Journal | May~June 2017

outdoor displays, presents more than 310,000 square feet of commercial exhibits specific to pork production. Attendees can visit the trade show from 0800 to 1700 on Wednesday, 7 June, and Thursday, 8 June. Trade show hours are 0800 to 1300 on Friday, 9 June. A particularly valuable part of Expo is the chance for attendees to learn about new and changing developments in pork production during the numerous free educational seminars. Experts on topics such as business planning, swine management, herd health, and marketing will present the most up-to-date information at the business seminars and Pork Academy on Wednesday and Thursday.

Food and fun


f course, Expo always includes time for fun, fellowship and plenty of tasty pork. Allied industry tents provide a spot for producers to interact with each other as well mingle with representatives from a range of companies. Along the Grand Concourse on Thursday, attendees can enjoy a summer evening with MusicFest’s live music, grilled pork, and refreshments. Another activity not to be missed is the Big Grill, which serves free pork lunches each day from 1100 to 1300. Last year, the Big Grill, staffed by Iowa’s Tama County pork producers, provided more than

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10,000 pork lunches. “Anyone who hasn’t been to World Pork Expo is missing out,” Weber says. “Whether you’re the boss or an employee, taking some time off to attend Expo can pay back the business in a variety of ways because there’s always something to learn.”

SWine shows


he World Pork Expo swine shows  will kick off Expo week with activities beginning on Monday, 5 June. Hosted by the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) and Team Purebred, the Junior National has evolved into one of the nation’s premier youth swine shows. It combines educational programs such as judging contests, a Skillathon and certification programs with live hog competitions through Friday, 9 June. Continuing its recordsetting pace, the 2016 show involved 2,351 hogs exhibited by 948 youth from 30 states. Also located in the swine barn, the open shows will take place on Friday, 9 June, with breeding-stock auction sales scheduled for Saturday morning, 10 June. Last year, more than 1,090 purebred and crossbred gilts and boars were exhibited. Online registration is now available. Individuals heading to Expo can register online through 1 June and receive a discounted rate of $10 per adult (ages 12 and up), which covers all three days of Expo.

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On-site registration will be $20 per adult, with a special Friday-only rate of $10. Stay up-to-date on all the latest World Pork Expo news by following on Twitter (#WPX17) and connecting on Facebook. Whether you’re looking to shop the trade show, sit in on the seminars or interact with fellow pork professionals, it’s not too early to start planning your trip.  World Pork Expo, the world's largest porkspecific trade show, is brought to you by NPPC. On behalf of its members, NPPC develops and defends export markets, fights for reasonable legislation and regulation, and informs and educates legislators. For more information, visit Anyone planning to attend the 2017 World Pork Expo should consider arriving early to take part in one of two Pre-Expo agricultural tours. Organized by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and set for Sunday, 4 June, through Tuesday, 6 June, the Midwest Agriculture Tour and Iowa Agribusiness Tour will provide insights into Midwestern agricultural businesses and pork production “For more than a decade, these tours have taken visitors on a journey to view various aspects of US pork production, from feed processing to on-farm production to shipping channels to equipment and technological suppliers,” says Greg Thornton, tour organizer for NPPC. “Either of the two tours will provide an excellent snapshot of Midwest agriculture, which can be particularly helpful for international visitors and those from out of state." May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 67

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e v en t s

e v ent s

The world's meat industry is heading World Pork Expo

2017 29 May - 1 June MEAT TEC Milan

9-12 September MEAT EXPO CHINA Changsha, Hunan Province

7-9 June WORLD PORK EXPO Des Moines, Iowa, USA

19-22 September PROCESS EXPO Chicago


25-27 September PACK EXPO Las Vegas

06-08 July VIV TURKEY 2017 Istanbul

29 May 2018 MEAT TECH Milan, Italy

29-31 August SIAVS - International Poultry and Pork Show Sao Paulo

For more events, go to 'Events'

May~June 2017 | Meat Packing Journal | 69

C O n tac t s

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Rhian Owen



Velo Mitrovich

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Editor +44 1442 780 591

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Technical Editor

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Head of Sales +44 1442 780 593

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Account manager +44 1442 780 594

Jim Robertson

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without the express prior written consent of the publisher. Meat Packing Journal ISSN 2054-4677 is published bimonthly by Reby Media, 42 Crouchfield, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 1PA. Subscription records are maintained at Reby Media, 42 Crouchfield, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 1PA. Meat Packing Journal and its Editorial Board accept no responsibility for the accuracy of statements or opinion given within the Journal that is not the expressly designated opinion of the Journal or its Editorial Board. Those opinions expressed in areas other than editorial comment may not be taken as being the opinion of the Journal or its staff, and the aforementioned accept no responsibility or liability for actions that arise therefrom.

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Meat Packing Journal, May-Jun 2017, iss 3 vol 4  

The international magazine for the meat and poultry industry

Meat Packing Journal, May-Jun 2017, iss 3 vol 4  

The international magazine for the meat and poultry industry