Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 36

PROCESSOR PROFILE

Two of the plant's ground
beef lines process ground
beef bricks exclusively. The
other two lines are used
for patty production.

36

" It was very much about being vertically
integrated and capturing that cold chain from
the processing plant all the way through to our
customer's door, " Forrest said.
Vertical integration means managing every
stage of the production chain.
" We own our entire production and cold
chain, " he said. " The product comes through
the Port of Philadelphia, we pick it up with our
own trucks, transport it to the facility, unload
the containers into our own cold storage,
USDA inspect it, process it and then deliver it
ourselves to our customers. "
The company goes to the port every day to
pick up shipment containers from Australia
and around the world. They receive 60 to 100
shipment containers - holding 3 million to 5
million lbs of meat - at the plant per week.
Less than 5% of Thomas Foods' product
sold in the United States is processed outside
of its New Jersey operation. Included in the
5% is Australian lamb that's sold in a major
club retailer. That product is processed
and packaged, retail-ready, out of one of its
Australian plants.
The New Jersey plant has two separate
processing rooms - one dedicated to ground
beef processing, the other to cutting steaks,
chops and other meat cuts. The ground beef
room features four processing lines - two
exclusively for ground beef bricks, the other
two are used for patty production.

MEAT+ POULTRY | 01.21 | www.meatpoultry.com

The new 20,000-square-foot addition, going
online in February, will be a fifth ground beef
line for processing ground beef bricks. After
it's operational, the plant will be processing in
excess of 1 million lbs of ground beef per week.
The second production room is where
the steaks and chops are cut and packaged -
some of which are fixed weight depending on
customer requirements.
Included in its line of meat cuts are lamb
shoulder chops, loin chops, leg steaks and rack
chops; pork loin, shoulder, tenderloins and
chops; veal scallopini and Osso Bucco; and a
full line of beef products.
Each week the plant processes around 1.4
million lbs of finished case-ready products that
go to retail, foodservice and direct to consumer
through subscription service companies - more
than 50% of which are ground beef products.
After the new line is running in 2021, the
production capability will climb to 2 million lbs
per week.
Thomas Foods utilizes a variety of
packaging formats for its ground and cut
proteins. For ground beef, the company
packages in chubs, 1-lb bricks in rollstock and
grounds and patties in modified atmosphere
packaging. The plant has IQF (individually
quick frozen) capabilities for use with its patty
production as well.
For its steaks, chops and other consumerready meat cuts, rollstock and MAP are the
most common packaging formats with some
products being packaged in VSP (vacuum
skin packaging).
" We are moving into different packaging
formats where there is a big push to reduce
some of our use of plastics - we are trying to
cut down on our footprint around the use of
non-recyclable plastics, " Forrest said.

INTERNATIONAL INPUT
More than 90% of the lamb sold out of the
Swedesboro facility is sourced from Australia.
" We're an Australia company - our
DNA is quite Australian. We are procuring
proteins globally to meet our customers'
requirements with a heavy slant to our
heritage and origins in Australia, " Forrest said.
" One of our strengths is global sourcing and
importing products. "
More than one-third of the all the products
sold from the New Jersey facility are sourced


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Meat+Poultry - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - January 2021

Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 1
Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 1
Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 2
Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 3
Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 4
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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - vdg - 1
Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - vdg - 2
Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 67
Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 68
Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - 69
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Meat+Poultry - January 2021 - marel - 1
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