ICELAND, Garðabær. Food processing solutions provider Marel announced its participation in a WUR research project, aiming to explore the connection between extensive farming practices and meat quality.
According to a Marel press release, the mEATquality project coordinated by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) under lead scientist Hans Spoolder seeks to collect data on meat quality during production and processing. The objective is to develop innovative solutions that align with the evolving demands of society, the environment, and the industry itself.
This project falls under the EU's Horizon 2020 program. In addition to various European universities, leading meat quality laboratories, supermarkets, breeding companies, and processors, Marel is actively involved in mEATquality as a supplier of equipment and technology. Johan Meulendijks, the R&D Director at Marel, represents the company as a member of the General Assessment Assembly.
According to Marel, the central question addressed by the mEATquality research is whether better animal welfare practices in farming lead to improved meat quality. To investigate this, the research team will collect relevant data from conventional, organic, and free-range farms and combine it with consumer expectations.
“We want to find out whether extensive and intensive farming methods of pigs and chickens result in different meat tastes. Does it affect the taste when animals are fed differently or when they can walk around freely?” explained Spoolder.
The research team will also conduct controlled experiments and develop assessment technology to determine meat quality automatically. Additionally, achieving full traceability of the meat's origin is an essential objective.
Meulendijks highlighted the crucial role of Marel in the project, particularly in measuring various parameters once the chickens reach the processing plant. Using Innova software and Marel’s in-line sensor technology, the goal is to find a link between specific product characteristics and factors such as feed or coop conditions. Ultimately, the project is supposed to establish a connection between the rearing methods of chickens and the consumer's experience of juicy, flavorful meat without fatty overtones.