Vinderup, Finland-based HKScan has replaced the sharp blades in its chicken processing plant with high-pressure DSI waterjets. The new technology cuts the chicken loin with the cleanest cut the producer has ever seen, René Wibholdt for Food Supply Magazine reports.
HKScan is undergoing a comprehensive transformation, with the major challenge of using raw materials optimally. In short, the upheaval must ensure that several years of red figures on the bottom line are replaced by black ones. And in this context, the new investment in a waterjet plant is a perfect fit.
Whereas the slaughterhouse in Vinderup previously used industrial knives in the processing plant to cut chicken fillets into cubes and strips, the cutting work is now done by high-pressure water jets. Technically, the new plant is equipped with a robot arm with several adjacent nozzles, which emit high-pressure water jets that execute the variable cutting functions.
Inspiration from Sweden
With the remodeling in and around the processing plant, the waterjet solution, which was delivered before Christmas 2020, cost DKK 9.3 million, of which the major part of the investment has gone to the new cutting unit. The repayment period is expected to be two to three years. According to HKScan, the plant at the Vinderup slaughterhouse is the only one of its kind in Denmark.
“The idea for the investment came after a trip to Sweden, where we went around to see the shops. There, we quickly came across the beautiful cuts on the strips and cubes lying in a refrigerated display case. So we decided that such high quality is also something we would like to offer our customers,” said Sales Director Morten Cederberg, HKScan Denmark A/S.
“We currently sell cubes and strips, but the cuts themselves are not as attractive and uniform when done with a knife. So with the new technology and high quality, we are confident that we can increase future sales in this category. This is also absolutely necessary in order to recoup the investment,” he added.
In addition to strips and cubes, the plant can also cut the breast fillets crosswise (horizontally). This cut gives the consumer a minute fillet that fits ideally with the convenience trend. “It reduces the cooking time, and consumers can now prepare the product in half the time. We believe that many consumers will be pleased with this in their busy workday,” said Cederberg.
New category in place
The next step for HK SCAN is the launch of ready-fried strips and cubes. “Here we are looking at a category characterised by foreign products. Fortunately, our customers are asking for Danish chicken, and we can now help them with this. Basically, importing chicken meat transported over long distances makes no sense. So we strongly believe that Danish consumers will support the new products. The category of ready-fried strips and cubes will be brand new to us. Now we will have exposure on the cold-cuts shelf,” explained the Sales Director.
Until now, the chicken producer was not able to offer ready-fried cubes and strips, but this is now possible with the investment in a new frying line, which is located at the factory in Skovsgaard.
The bag has been shaken
Morten Cederberg expects strong growth in the brand new category, where the products can be eaten directly from the pack or used in a salad or packed lunch.
“That’s what works. Consumers demand convenience, and therefore we must do much more in processed foods”, he said. The number of chickens slaughtered in Denmark remains unchanged at HKScan.
“To meet the demand for the waterjet range and the ready-fried variants, we will move meat from individual export markets and instead sell it in Denmark. It is basically a question of where we can earn the most from the meat,” Cederberg indicated.
The transformation must simply put a large full-stop on the number of years with a deficit.
Cederborg explained: “By focusing more on refined and specialised products, our production becomes more complex. We have to move the raw materials from Vinderup to Skovsgård, but that’s how it is. We have decided on a new strategy, and now we must concentrate on getting the initiatives to succeed.”
Investments in welfare
HKScan is also ready with welfare chickens, which are currently being launched in the grocery retail chains. It’s a different breed – Range Gold – than the conventional chickens. They weigh pretty much the same, but get more space in the chicken house and access to the outside area. They are slaughtered after 46-47 days, whereas for conventional chickens it is typically 34 days. Welfare chicken is produced by farmers who have previously supplied organic chickens to HKScan.
“We are in a transformation process where we must focus on where we can basically earn the most from our raw materials,” Cederberg said.
Reference: Original article, ”Nu skærer HKScan kylling med vandstråler” af René Wibholdt for Food Supply Magazine / Jern & Maskinindustrien under Nordiske Medier