HELPING EU PROCESSORS BECOME COMPETITIVE USING AUTOMATED AND NON-CONTACT PIGMEAT PIECE QUALITY CLASSIFICATION

 

The €160.6 billion EU-27 meat processing sector employs over 1 million workers and is dominatedby SMEs (94%) with small productions and traditional processes. SMEs in this vital sector arefacing global competition from multinationals which are more productive and have superiormarketing capacity. Moreover, the current crisis is reducing demand for premium meat andtraditional quality products that are the core business for most European sector SMEs.The solution to maintain sector viability is for SMEs to increase productivity and manufacture withconsistent quality. The SMEs behind this proposal (San Michele and Erre de Vic) as well as equipmentmanufacturers (JCB S.L) and distributors (Strasser GmbH) have identified the need for a technology to sort meatprior to processing, without which 30-40% of all processed meats do not reach the expected finalquality. To become more competitive, processors must be able to select higher quality meats forhigher added-value processes (e.g. long dry-curing, use of natural ingredients), while lower qualitymeats can be separated and treated to achieve an acceptable and consistent final quality.With the support of RTDs (CRIC, UNIMAN, IRTA and SSICA), the SMEs propose the development of QMEAT, an automatic non-contact system to determine the Water Holding Capacity and colour of meat pieces prior to processing.This system is expected to increase the production of high-quality products by at least 20%, with benefits of at least €250-900 per tonne. The estimated tag price for the QMEAT system will be of €80,000; an investment fully recoverable in 6 months of operation for companies producing aminimum of 200 tonnes per year. With a time-to-market of 18 months, QMEAT represents a real business opportunity for the SMEs,who will jointly exploit the results to reach a foreseen 2% EU market penetration and anaccumulated income of €24 million over a 5 year time frame.