Increasingly producers and packers are making animal handling a priority. Certainly there is a pork quality payoff as more animals make it to market in sound condition, and the resulting meat products perform better as well. There also is a payoff in terms of employee safety and satisfaction. Finally, consumers are upping the ante in terms of requiring responsible animal handling, and more, in determining their meat purchases.

Premium Iowa Pork has taken these factors to heart in a recent renovation at its Hospers, Iowa. PIP did receive a $300,000 Value Added Grant from USDA Rural Development, to aid in its consumer satisfaction priority list. The plant will process 1,200 to 1,800 hogs a day.

When PIP reopens the 10,000-square-foot expansion, it will feature an animal-handling system designed by Temple Grandin, Colorado State University animal scientist and animal-handling expert. 

The plant also will feature carcass and product handling procedures to ensure traceability and reduce contamination concerns. For example, that the plant will include is a BANSS steam-scald system and dehairer, imported from Germany. The first of its kind in the United States. The carcasses never touch in the steamer, which reduces cross-contamination.

The processing saws include lasers to ensure precise, detailed cuts. Meat will be cut to various customer specifications, and packaged into private-label bags and boxes. Embracing niche marketing opportunities, PIP can segregate product to meet a variety of market needs. Specifically, the processor will work with niche producers who have a product that they want to market-- such as natural pork, organic pork or breed-specific.

It may be easy to look at PIP a small, regional, pork processor. However, the trends and the opportunities are much larger than that, as consumers continue to segment their demands businesses will need to do the same. 

Source: AgriNews, Premium Iowa Pork