Carcase classification specialist Meat and Livestock Commercial Services (MLCSL) has announced a seven-year contract to provide leading international meat processor Kepak Group with three automated carcase classification machines in two of its UK plants overseen by MLCSL’s independent, on-site classification officers.

MLCSL, acquired by Vorenta Limited – which also owns Hallmark Veterinary Compliance Services – from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in 2018, plans to install the VBS 2000 machines this year in Kepak’s facilities at Merthyr Tydfil, in South Wales and Bodmin, in Cornwall.

MLCSL is working with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to secure the appropriate licences.

The automated carcase classification process, known as Video Image Analysis (VIA), uses cameras and bespoke software to classify carcases on the EUROP scale.

David Peace, MLCSL chairman, said:

We are absolutely delighted to agree this new partnership with Kepak, one of Europe’s foremost meat processers.

“The machines use E+V camera-based technology which is already widely utilised in Kepak’s Irish manufacturing sites.

“It is a superb opportunity for MLCSL to demonstrate that we can provide these machines, as well as maintain the overall independent classification service which includes having our own classification officers permanently overseeing the grading process in each plant.”

‘A significant advance for Kepak’

Tom Finn, chief commercial officer, Kepak, said:

“The move into automation in two of our UK plants is a significant advance for Kepak, whilst continuing to rely on the long-standing and highly-respected independent classification service.

“MLCSL has agreed to provide three machines as well as classification officers to manage the work on a permanent basis.

It is an exciting development which further emphasises our reputation for efficiency and transparency in our relationships with suppliers and customers.

“The support of the NFU and FUW will contribute to a smooth changeover of systems to include VIA grading.”