Catering for premium poultry PRODUCTS
Started in 2010 as a joint venture between (VKB) and the Industrial Development Corporation, Grain Field Chickens, situated in Reitz in the eastern Free State, is an integrated company that includes contracted broiler farms, a feed mill and a processing plant for processing broilers.
“Some years ago VKB produced mainly grain. The company was, however, convinced that rearing their own chicks and processing them into a wide variety of products would be commercially interesting,” says Sas Kasselman, Managing director of Grain Field Chickens.
Today the company produces competitively priced, premium quality, poultry products. Fresh and frozen poultry products reach consumers through retail outlets, supermarkets and the food service industry. Their competitive edge lies in the integration and control of the vertical supply chain to produce competitively priced, top quality poultry products.
“In South Africa poultry meat is, as in many other countries, the fastest growing source of protein for human consumption. South Africans consume 36kg of chicken per person per year, with statisticians projecting that this could well increase to 47kg per person, per year by 2019,” says Kasselman.
To cater for this anticipated growth, Grain Field Chickens embarked on an improvement program for their processing plant. First, the old Stork GP Live Bird Handling system was extended and upgraded, which led to an optimised flow of broilers and an optimal start to the process.
The company then invested in the automation of their cut-up department with the installation of a Marel Stork ACM-NT cut-up system to produce a wide variety of cuts. To pack the various products after IQF freezing, a Marel Multihead Weigher was installed. The result is reliable and accurate batching of poultry products with extremely low giveaway and a high throughput of up to 60 batches per minute.
With the GP system, cut-up and packing updated, the focus shifted to the evisceration department. The decision was made to purchase a Stork Nuova evisceration system to increases the company’s yields, especially of valuable giblets. After evisceration the intestine pack is removed immediately and transported away for further processing. Giblets are harvested and processed manually at this moment. Hearts, liver and gizzards are popular products. The new evisceration system is future- proof, and can grow to a capacity of 12,000 birds per hour (200 birds per minute) and can be automated step by step when required, without the need to invest in a completely new system.
“We aim to establish Grain Field Chickens as a household brand in South Africa and neighbouring countries. We produce truly farmproduced chickens from the heart of South Africa’s grain field in the Free State,” says Kasselman. “Our key value lies in the real old fashioned business principles of honesty, communication and respect. We believe that in business everything is negotiable except quality, and our poultry processing technology is an important step in what we call control from grain to feed to fork.”