UK CARCASS payments are likely to gradually switch to the Danish AutoFOM system following the Danish-backed acquisition of Flagship Foods.

UK producers are currently paid on a P2 back fat measurement which takes no account of superior eye muscle or more valuable loin and leg meat content.

Although lean meat percentage levels are shown on producers‘ grading sheets in most cases payments are simply linked to the P2 measurement.

There has therefore been little incentive for producers to invest in high carcass conformation breeding stock.

The AutoFOM system is based on ultrasound technology and effectively scans each carcass to assess lean meat distribution. 

Producer payments are based on 2,000 measurements which calculate the weight of butchered meat in four primal joints.

George Adams, which currently slaughters around 13,000 pigs a week, is trialling an AutoFOM scanner alongside the existing P2 system.

Pig development manager Mark Haighton said he hoped the firm‘s producers would be paid on the AutoFOM system by the end of the year.

The British Pig Executive and the Meat and Livestock Commission are both backing this new system. 

Mick Sloyan of the BPEX believed that this new technology would provide a greater flow of carcass information which would allow producers, breeding companies, processors and retailers to plan accordingly.

The AutoFOM system is becoming well established in other European countries and in the USA. 

AutoFOM will no doubt feature in the Danish Crown acquisition of the Flagship Foods business which, subject to clearance by the EU‘s competition authorities, is likely to lead to extra investment in Dalehead Foods‘ UK abattoirs.