King oversees factory opening

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King took a trip to Suffolk recently to oversee the launch of a bacon supplier's new £20m factory.

Direct Table Foods' new faci-lity, in Bury St Edmunds, is the result of a six-month build project, culminating in one of the most sophisticated bacon-processing plants in Europe.

"We've been able to start with a blank sheet of paper and develop the design to meet the exact needs of the business," said Tony Stanton, managing director.

"Very few food factories are purpose-built and, as a result, the processes within them are not always as straightforward as they might be. We've been able to design the most efficient factory possible - and that's going to benefit our customers as well as our employees."

The new facility has been designed to follow a logical flow through the factory. At one end, pork is delivered into a storage area and then moved into an adjacent curing hall. In here, Direct Table has designed a tank-curing facility where pork is cured traditionally.

Stanton said: "We mix our own cures using natural ingredients such as honey wherever possible. We then carry out the initial cure using a precise multi-needle injecting system. The meat is then tank-cured - a traditional method that we are able to offer using state-of-the-art equipment."

The company has installed the latest friction smoke generators, which smoke products at a cooler temperature and offer a higher degree of control over the level of smoke products receive.

"We employ four different types of processing lines, covering retail and bulk-packed rashers, gammon steaks and joints," said Stanton. "We're particularly proud of our flexible service and, as part of that offer, have installed a dedicated line for customers to trial specialised products and produce short runs."

There is a high specification quality control room where, every 30 minutes, bacon packs from the production line are tested for gas content, weight and labelling.

The factory has the capacity

for 300t of bacon a week, but can be expanded.

Stanton added: "The opening of this factory represents a new era for Direct Table. We are a subsidiary of Danish co-operative Tican, which means that, as a result of the collaboration between farmers and abattoirs, we can ensure a supply of high-quality pig meat, reared to British market requirements and with

full traceability."

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