AVARA FOODS has invested more than £4m in automating the processing of seasonal poultry lines at its Hereford and Telford processing plants.

The processor said that producing seasonal barbeque-type products was traditionally labour intensive and relied heavily on seasonal workers.

See also: European poultrymeat market tightens under exceptional pressure

Labour shortages have led to the firm investing in automation to meet these needs with fewer, more skilled people.

It forms part of a drive by the wider poultry processing sector to develop and install new technology that reduces the reliance on unskilled labour, which is increasingly difficult to source.

Avara’s new automated lines pack a range of BBQ products, including dark meat and flavoured options, directly into a pouch.

Plastic reduction

The process, which features in-pouch marination, removes much of the manual process in production, increasing productivity and efficiency while reducing plastic use by over 60%.

Andrew Brodie, people director at Avara, said: “We know seasonal workers are in short supply, but this latest round of automation means we can manage people numbers through our normal local recruitment activities while ensuring a consistent supply of BBQ products to our retail customers. Now we just need the British weather to come to the party.”

“Replacing repetitive tasks with automated processes doesn’t remove the need for people”, he added.

“The difference is that we need fewer, but more highly skilled people, to keep that automation running smoothly, and we can recruit them from our local communities.

“It’s a completely different role and one that’s much more attractive to people who are looking for a career, rather than a job.”