Marel: Marinating to meet the growing trend in ready-to-cook meals

The market for ready-to-cook meals is accelerating. Consumers want to spend less time in the kitchen and access a wide variety of global flavor options. This demand for variety means processes such as marinating, take on a new level of importance for processors of prepared foods.

Posted on Jun 10 ,00:05

Marel: Marinating to meet the growing trend in ready-to-cook meals

Marinating provides an endless variety of flavor combinations allowing processors to create multiple meal options from the same protein source, increase the value of different cuts and have the flexibility to meet the rapid changes in consumer demand for seasonal products.  

With increased marketplace opportunities, processors face increased competition. To achieve and maintain brand reputation, processors need to repeatedly produce consistent products with even coverage of marinade and high-quality end-product appearance.  

Marel equipment such as the ValueDrum and the ValueSpray anticipate this trend, offering the perfect solution to quickly and easily marinate large quantities of all proteins: poultry, meat, fish and the growing number of alternative proteins.  

2Sisters Storteboom, a division of the UK-based 2Sisters Food Group Ltd, is one of the larger poultry processors in Europe. Plant Manager Hans van Norden recognized the vast market for 2Sisters in marinated convenience products. "We had already been producing ready-to-cook products on a small scale, using conventional tumblers. That works, but we really want to be ready to step up in scale. Conventional tumblers create all kinds of logistic problems when dealing with large quantities: there's a lot of handling and loading and they create buffers, seriously interrupting product flow. This also affects the visual and bacteriological quality of the products. Also, we would need very large tumblers, but products get crushed and damaged in those. Bad for quality and it doesn't look good when packed for retail". 

He looked to Marel to help find the solution. "Marel installed a demo version of an updated ValueDrum in our plant. The deal was it would be here temporarily, mainly for testing purposes. But after only three hours of vigorous testing, we called them: forget about 'temporary’, we are going to keep this machine!" 

Portions of bone-in or de-boned meat are batch-weighed and enter the ValueDrum with the precise measurement of marinade. As the ValueDrum rotates, it evenly distributes the marinade. The increased automation of the ValueDrum ensures consistent end-products, minimizes labor dependency and material costs, and reduces product handling. 

The media, travel and a desire for something new all influence consumers. Trends change quickly and prepared food processors need maximum flexibility to keep themselves ahead of the competition. 

Claus Oldenburg, plant manager of Danish Crown Oldenburg Convenience GmbH, says adding Marel's ValueSpray to the production line has been integral in keeping up with changing demands. "As a supplier to a large supermarket chain, we have to produce large amounts of pork to different specs at relatively short notice. Especially in the summer season, the morning's weather forecast determines the day's product varieties as well as volumes. This means that short-term flexibility and just-in-time production are the key to success in our business. The ValueSpray is very easy to clean and set up for the next production run. I can have the whole thing up and running again in just 5 minutes!" 

Marel's ValueSpray marinates portioned and fragile products of poultry, meat, fish and alternative proteins. Marinade is sprayed on one or both sides as portions move along a conveyor belt. Overshoot flows into a reservoir and is reused, creating less marinate giveaway. The ValueSpray evenly distributes marinade, including those with coarser pieces, to ensure a high-quality appearance in retail trays. 

With scalable equipment like the ValueDrum and ValueSpray that can create a variety of consistent, high-quality end-products, you can be sure your business makes the most of this booming market.

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