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Monday 28 November 2011 Uruguay

The world's best Hereford cattle at Breeders and Packers Uruguay

  BPU Uruguay “the Mecca ” of meat plants

 Breeders & Packers is the latest incorporation to Uruguay’s meat industry   


As we entered the foyer the first thing I noticed was the smell of leather identical to the smell when you open the door of and expensive car that has leather seating. The décor was smart effective and very personal, with paintings on the wall of boxers that contrasted well with other paintings of singers, I could tell instantly these were not just paintings, rather people who had played some role in the life of Terry Johnson, such is the nature of the man.


On the left hand side of the foyer there is a gymnasium that is as luxurious as any 5 star hotel, complete with two full size boxing rings,and state of the art gym equipment this took me back to the seventies, when Barry MaQuigan and his brothers worked for me in Tunney Meats at Clones in Ireland.




The manager of the gymnasium and sports centre at the plant Mark Wilks .


Like all slaughtermen, the only way to tour a meat plant is start at the cattle pens where the cattle arrive and are unloaded and work your way to the loading bay where the finished product is dispatched. I noticed strait away there were no corners and round cattle races and  knew immediately these were a Temple Grandin design.



The world finest cattle yards “ Temple Grandin ” influenced



We old slaughtermen who had to knock our own cattle for solo dressing, realize the importance of getting your beast a quietly as possible into the knocking box causing no stress, which also improves the eating quality of the meat, stressed cattle cut dark meat.


A beast will walk up hill all day or down a wall that slopes away from them. I noticed all the cattle pens held a maximum of 40 cattle and had running water on both sides of the pen,  the walls sloped at an angle which means cattle entering, are walking away from the wall.



When I saw the stunning pen and the automatic lander, I knew I was looking at the work of Gerard Muckian from GM Steel in Ireland, who has been working with meat plants owned by Terry Johnson on the development and design, project management and maintenance of abattoir and meat processing equipment for over 12 years.



Upward Hide Puller

The mega kill floor all cattle well spaced so no contamination



Terry Johnson contracted GM Steel Fabricators for this project because he considered GM Steel Fabricators as the right partner having the capacities to execute a turnkey large capacity beef processing plant with the latest hi-tech equipments.

In the year 2000 GM Steel Fabricators designed and installed a new beef & lamb slaughterhouse on a Greenfield site at Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. The Merthyr Tydfil processing plant is still one of the best running meat plants in the United Kingdom.




Roberto Palma, (Third generation meat industry)

   President and general manager of BPU.  

Terry Johnson has built several beef processing plants in different continents so he is very aware of what's going on in this industry. He likes his companies to be at the forefront of new innovations in the industry and attributes his growth and profit to this.

He and several other industry players have declared his new BPU plant as the most modern & efficient integrated beef processing plant in the world, mainly as a result of excellent design and smart technology.



The kill floor should be called “Gemini" as there are two of everything and both kill lines run side by side with capacity of 150 cattle per hour between them. The beauty of the kill floor is the length of the lines and the fact they are strait lines from stunning pen to the evisceration.



The lines then merge into one line after evisceration for splitting, trimming, washing, grading and labelling.



The pre-cooling hall where all carcass’s spend 2 hours to remove water and excess blood

before chilling.


When the cattle come out of the kill floor they receive an electric shock stimulation of some 5,000 volts, this breaks down the sugar paticles in the meat and ensures  a more tender beef carcass for eating.


Now we come to the most exiting part of the beef slaughtering process.



As opposed to the sides of beef going into the chillers immediately after slaughter, which means the water stays in the carcass causing the beef to "weep" when it come into room temperature, the cattle at BPU stay on a moving conveyor for two hours in a pre-cooling room, where all the water in evaporated and the cattle then enter the chillers as dry as a bone.




Carcasses dried and ready for 48 hours chilling the colour of the beef is amazing

This means the keeping quality and the colour of the beef are indeed the best on offer anywhere in the world today, somthing I have not seen since the old days of the butcher killing his beast behind the shop, with a bucket and cloth and as little wate as possible.




Note the pink colour of the meat and whiteness of the fat.


The boning hall is second to none, what else would you expect with Gerard Muckian designing and Marel Equipment and the expertise of Tony Ambrose and his amazing team at Marel Food Equipment. 



The are six boning lines and the potential is unlimited. The plant currently is only working two lines processing 500 cattle per day.



The revolutionary flooring in the boning hall cost a cool US$7 million. This has to be the most expensive floor in the world for any establishment.



The floor is made of a reinforced slip proof plastic that is half an inch thick and was laid in the same manner as Axminster carpets are laid in a home. I have never seen anything like this in my life.



Boning hall line (One of six lines) equipped with Marel Equipment




The red offal and green offal area’s are also state of the art and the offal is chilled on a continuous conveyor.


BPU are fully self contained with their own laboratories to test the meat and blood from cattle and a fully equipped hospital for emergencies with the staff.



Every care is taken to provide for the 350 staff from the most wonderful dining room to a crèche allowing young mother to bring their children to work.



Sports are encouraged and as well s boxing and the gymnasium the factory have their own football pitch.



The changing rooms were very well thought out with the personnel have an entrance door in their street colts and a separate exit door in their work uniforms, meaning there is no risk on any contamination from street cloth,



The video below shows the kill floor in operation on the day the President of Uruguay visited and for his lunch he was treated to exactly the same food that is served to the 351 members of staff.



Click blue line for Video of the plant - Visita del Presidente Mujica al Frigorífico Breeders and ...

Visita del Presidente Mujica al Frigorífico Breeders and Packers -Recorrida por la planta - Reunión privada con el Sr ... Uruguay-UE trabajan para la reforma ...


This is without any doubt the finest meat plant in the world and is 21st Century state of the art precision technology, yet full of old fashioned traditional butcher's value's.



The President of Uruguay, Terry and his staff enjoying lunch in the plant



It was indeed a red letter day for me,  reminiscing with Terry about our old days on Smithfield and in Devon and Cornwall, as well as receiving an education into the industry that has been very kind to both of us. 












Beef does not come any better than this








Last but not least, the 550 hectare site is now being landscaped and the first houses have been built and are occupied in the village Terry is building for his staff.



The waste water lagoons are  odourless as the methane is taken from them and thy are all stocked with fish. The site is situated and the top of a hill surrounded by lush pasture this really is a piece of heaven on earth.



There are no outward signs that this is a meat plant and as Terry said to me “It doesn’t have to be ugly to be practical”.  









William Hayes, Buenos Aires Friday 18 th November 2011

Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.

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