Smoked chicken leg just the meal

Tegel Foods

Leading poultry producer Tegel Foods was keen to expand its export markets but first it had to extend the shelf life of its products to overcome the impact of long-distance travel from New Zealand.

Tegel, based in Auckland, turned to ATEED’s state-of-the-art, joint venture facility, The FoodBowl for trials and testing. This allowed Tegel to produce a new chicken product for Asian markets using the revolutionary high pressure processing (HPP) system.

Tegel’s project team made full use of the HPP machine at The FoodBowl for year-long trials. Finally, the team was happy its new product -chilled manuka-smoked chicken leg fillet - would satisfy the Asian palate.

Using The FoodBowl for some commercial production runs allowed Tegel to become the first poultry producer in New Zealand to export an HPP product. It is looking ahead to ongoing monthly orders from Asia.

Experimenting with different combinations of the HPP system, Tegel’s project team was able to extend the shelf life of the chilled product without changing most of its properties including colour and texture.

The existing shelf life was nearly tripled, giving enough time for shipping (normally six weeks) to faraway markets and for retailers to stock and sell the leg fillets.

Sadia Seemeen, who was process improvement technologist at Tegel during the project, says: ``We undertook trials to custom-make some of the smoked product and eliminate preservatives and chemical curing agents, while using some natural ingredients sourced from the United States.’’

The ready-to-eat HPP product is being shipped in a vacuum package, helping to extend the shelf life.

Sadia Seemeen says chicken legs and thighs sell at low prices in New Zealand but are regarded more highly in the Asian markets. ``We have been able to add value to the back end of the bird, and the HPP trials and validation have created the basis for other new products.’’

Up till now the main export market for cooked and frozen chicken has been Australia.

Sadia Seemeen says The FoodBowl is important for companies wanting to explore new markets and develop new products.

``To invest in a $500,000 HPP machine for testing is just not feasible,’’ she says ``The FoodBowl has the technology to explore different ways of doing things – that’s a great asset in a country like New Zealand that relies on export sales to add to the economy.’’