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Marel: Using as much valuable parts of the chicken as possible

When eating chicken meat, it makes both economic and ethical sense to use as much of the bird as possible, finding the most profitable market for each part. This is the way processors achieve optimum carcass balance, allowing them to operate sustainably at peak efficiency. Harvesting giblets efficiently is therefore a truly essential part of any profitable processing operation. Markets across the world differ, however, in the way in which they enjoy their giblets.

Marel: Using as much valuable parts of the chicken as possible

Giblets around the world.

Globally, livers are the most valuable giblet, although there are variations. Hearts feature prominently in Brazil’s famous churrasco*, a medley of barbecued meat served from skewers. Gizzards are the most popular giblet in Mexico, where they are often served with rice or chicken soup. Gizzards are also widely eaten in West Africa and across South-East Asia. In Cameroon and Nigeria, the gizzard of a cooked chicken is typically set aside for the oldest or most respected male at the table.

Pate and pet food
Livers and gizzards are also an important ingredient in further processed items. Chicken liver pate springs readily to mind. Less obvious is the use of ground gizzards in products such as chicken soup and croquettes.

In North America, Europe and Australasia, most giblets find their way into pet food. As the number of pets is increasing in most of these markets, poultry processors can earn good money from supplying high quality giblets to pet food manufacturers.


Marel: Using as much valuable parts of the chicken as possible
Marel's giblet harvesting department

30 years’ experience
Marel has almost thirty years’ experience of harvesting giblets automatically. The in-line technology then chosen involving the automatic transfer of the drawn viscera pack to a separate pack processing line has in the meantime become the industry standard. Marel offers market-leading flexibility in both how the pack is processed and the degree to which the process is automated at hourly throughputs of up to 15,000 packs.

Step-by-step automation
In markets where labor is cheap and freely available, giblet harvesting can still be done manually. Even here, harvesting from a separate pack processing line has substantial advantages. Each giblet pack has its own shackle, upgrading its image as containing potentially valuable by-products. Manual harvesting stations can be at any height to suit local operatives. The harvesting process itself is easy to manage, as poor performance by an individual operative is immediately visible. Both yield and quality benefit.

Once automatic giblet harvesting begins to become attractive, this can be done step by step. It is not necessary to automate the whole process at the same time.

Different tastes, different processes

Different giblets are popular in different markets.
Livers without damage
The giblet harvesting process always starts with the removal of intestines and gall bladder. Intestines hang down and away from the rest of the viscera pack. As neither humans nor animals like the bitter taste of gall, it is vital that this unwelcome organ is efficiently removed.

In some markets, livers are sold on their own packed on a supermarket tray, in others they are sold together with the heart, often as street food in South-East Asian markets. Pet food manufacturers sometimes want the whole ‘pluck’, hearts and livers together with the lungs. Marel has an automatic process for all options.

It is vital for both yield and quality that any liver damage is kept to an absolute minimum. Marel PLH liver harvesting and PLHH heart and liver harvesting modules have been designed with this very important aspect very much in mind. Consequently, top yields and top quality are possible with both modules. If the PLHH module is specified with hearts and livers harvested together, lungs must be removed manually beforehand.

Hearts for churrasco
In Brazil, hearts are such an important part of a churrasco barbecue that this small organ is the most valuable part of a chicken. In other markets hearts find their way into pet food.

The last step in an automatic giblet harvesting operation often involves the unloading of hearts and lungs together with a part of the esophagus and crop into an HLS heart/lung separator.

Handling lungs
For processors selling lungs to pet food manufacturers, there is another option, the HLH module. This module separates the heart and lungs in a single package from the gizzard and upper digestive tract. Hearts and lungs proceed to an HLS, heart/lung separator. This separates the heart from the lungs, allowing them to be collected separately. The main benefit of the HLH option is that the whole esophagus remains with the gizzard. As any esophageal material attached to the lungs is unwanted by pet food manufacturers, this must be removed manually beforehand, a fiddly and difficult job. With an HLH module in the line, this is no longer necessary.

Gizzards
As we have already seen, gizzards are a particularly popular item in Mexico and South-East Asia. Gizzards are particularly nutritious, being very high in protein. In some markets, cleaning is especially important. Marel offers either “normal” or “aggressive” gizzard harvesting systems. Processors where the accent is on clean gizzards will opt for the latter.

Different tastes, different processes
Different giblets are popular in different markets. With its modular giblet harvesting system, Marel can come up with a made-to-measure solution for virtually every situation, ensuring top quality and the highest possible yield.

* In Portugal, churrasco is a flat-grilled whole chicken.

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