If there is one priority for the British meat processing sector, fifth-quarter processing must be singled out. Margins remain tight for the meat sector on the domestic market, due to strong competition between the major retailers, as well as on export markets, due to equally fierce competition driven by over-capacity and shortage of supplies. So optimising the value of the fifth-quarter and minimising expensive waste disposal are essential to profitability.
Optimising fifth-quarter value is not easy. Above all, it requires management time from operators singularly lacking it. It starts at the farm, where liver and hide lesion must be avoided, and it requires a complete rethink of the slaughter process, such as space utilisation at the plant, procedures to harvest potentially valuable products and processing/chilling methods. Packing, labelling, freezing and marketing edible offal in the formats needed by different export markets must also be considered.
In brief, an integrated approach to by- and co-products utilisation is necessary for edible offal, bones, body fat and cartilages, hide, skin and rind, stomach content, blood, guts and non-edible offal. To define what is the best return for a by-product of the slaughter process must involve an evaluation of the cost for each preferred utilisation.
A joint Eblex-Bpex-Fabra conference, which is on 8 September in Kenilworth and is free to industry representatives, proposes to discuss these subjects to further this important debate.
The missing margin of British plants has been evaluated as £100/beef animal. Recovering it could be achieved by optimising the value of offal on the home and export markets and by channelling offal from expensive waste to valuable commodities. Minimising waste and optimising resource utilisation, such as water and energy, can only be good for the balance sheet.
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