Smoked meat manufacturing facility upgrade to double capacity

Thursday, 07 September, 2023

Smoked meat manufacturing facility upgrade to double capacity

Poachers Pantry (Poachers) smoked meats was established in 1991 by Susan and Robert Bruce on the family’s property after identifying a gap in the local market for European smallgoods. Now in the business’s 32nd year, their son, William Bruce, and his partner, Lauren Allen, are taking the reins and preparing the manufacturing facility for the next three decades.

Over the years, Poachers has supplied product to supermarkets, delis, restaurants across Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as product to the Qantas business class menus. In more recent years — in partnership with distributors Cartel and Co, Flavours Group, Harris Farm and Brindabella Foods — products can be found across the east coast of Australia, down to Tasmania and more recently in Queensland.

The production facility lies in the heart of a working farm, just north of Canberra. It operates the Smokehouse Restaurant, weddings and events, a vineyard and wine label. The smoked meats and wine produced on the property can be enjoyed by visitors to the restaurant.

In 2022, Poachers received a NSW Government’s Regional Jobs Creation Fund grant, allowing the business to significantly upgrade the production facilities, including the purchase of brand new curing, cooking and smoking equipment from Germany, through CBS Food Tech in Sydney.

The new equipment includes a new Henneken tumbler and injector, and two Reich Airmaster Ovens which will produce both hot and cold smoked meats.

The smoked meats manufacturer was previously limited with its production equipment when it came to curing products such as the nitrite-free bacon, taking up to two weeks and being smoked for a further three to five days. With a bigger tumbler and the new smokehouses, drying and smoking and drying time will be reduced to 24–48 hours.

The contemporary Reich Airmaster smokehouses are designed to provide shorter, energy-efficient cooking and smoking cycles, increase load capacity, ensure consistency between batches all while increasing yields across the business’s product range. 

William Bruce at the smokehouse.

Having 130 kW of solar on the property was a major factor in selecting the Reich electric ovens. Poachers produces 80% of its own power. The move to fully electric will see its gas consumption reduced by 90%.

Features of the ovens include: good performance, high load capacity, product consistency and high quality, faster process times, lower weight loss and digital monitoring to track batch cycles and temperature, as well as fulfilling HACCP reporting requirements which, to date, had been completed on paper-based forms.

Owner Andy Scherger’s father was the one who installed the original Poachers smokehouse that started the business back in 1991 — a second-hand smokehouse from the local CIT (TAFE).

Thermoformer in operation.

Now with this new equipment, paired with the existing packaging equipment — Ulma Thermoformer and Trief automatic slicer — Poachers is expected to double its existing production capacity.

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