Poultry is big business in the U.S. and North America. In 2014, the U.S. poultry industry alone produced 8.54 billion broiler/fryer chickens. That’s about 1.13 chickens for every person on Earth.
And you can’t talk poultry without talking processing and packaging – and knives. The poultry industry literally runs on high-quality knives. Without the proper knives for the processing of chickens, and safe, efficient packaging, the whole system would grind to a halt.
In this post, we will take a look at the poultry processing and packaging process, and discuss why high-quality knives are essential for poultry processing companies. Let’s begin.
Poultry Processing – The Basics
We’ll skip the initial gory details of processing here. Suffice to say, chickens have to be killed before they’re processed – and sharp, reliable knives are critical for both efficiencies, and ensuring that each chicken suffers little to no pain during the process.
After chickens have been killed and plucked by automated machines, the bulk of cutting begins. There’s no lack of technology when it comes to the processing of poultry this in day and age. Some of these machines are known to process over 35,000 chickens per hour. These machines are used to remove less-than-desirable parts. Using knives such as neck cutters and tail cutters that remove heads and feet – as well as additional knives to remove internal viscera. These parts are set aside for further processing.
Then, poultry is washed and chilled, to ensure no microbial growth. During this process, chickens are also weighed and graded for quality using highly sophisticated cameras. After quality and weight are determined, the poultry is then assigned its proper processing approach.
After this, the majority of cutting and deboning takes place. Depending on the type of poultry product, the carcass may be left whole, or cut in half using halving slicer knives. From there, poultry is then cut up into sections such as thighs, breasts, drumsticks, and wings. The reality is, there are specific knives designed for each segment of the chicken such as breast cutters, leg cutters, wing slicers of various sizes, vent cutters, and thigh cutters – all of which need to be carefully designed and manufactured to ensure optimal yield.
Because this process is low-touch and highly automated, high-quality knives are absolutely essential. Whether it’s building cars or processing poultry, any downtime has a significant impact on overall cost. A sharp knife keeps the whole processing line moving – and sharper knives can also preserve more meat during processing, adding even more value.
Poultry can be packaged in a variety of ways, depending on the style and size of the end product. However, almost all poultry is packaged in some kind of plastic.
If poultry is not intended for direct sale to consumers – but to butchers or grocery stores – vacuum sealing is the most common form of poultry packaging. Vacuum sealing uses advanced plastic materials and specialized equipment to eliminate air from poultry products – enhancing freshness and shelf life. If you find yourself purchasing a few non-frozen chicken breasts in the grocery store and they are sitting on a styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic, you have machine knives to thank. Specifically, overwrap knives help ensure that the poultry is packaged and ready to hit the shelves.
Plastic bags are also often used, especially for frozen poultry products that are sold to consumers, such as wings, breasts, and thighs. The packaging process relies heavily on heat sealing bands, sealing jaw sets, and bagger knives to ensure quality and freshness.
Regardless of the style of packaging, today’s poultry packaging is an automated process that is conducted at high speed. Reliable knife and cutting performance are both essential for avoiding slowdowns – which can cause loss of poultry.
Trust TGW International For Your Poultry Processing & Packaging Needs
From start to finish, if you’re a poultry processor or packager, you need the right machine knives – at the right time. Proper knife sharpness and reliability is critical for your continued profitability – and at TGW, we’re one of the only machine knife manufacturers that can deliver end to end knife solutions for our processing and packaging clients. So take a look at our products online, and learn more about our company now.