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High speed duck processing at Donstar

The Russian duck integration Donstar is reviving a great forgotten Russian tradition. It is bringing affordable duck meat back to the table of ordinary Russians. It’s growing popularity demands scaling up production and processing.

Donstar is the name of the first large-scale duck meat manufacturer in Russia, situated in the Rostov region near Millerovo. The vertically integrated company produces a wide variety of duck products, known under the brand name “Utolina”. To process the ducks, the company teamed up with Marel Stork Poultry Processing. A high capacity duck processing plant was built using the latest available technologies and highest level of automation. Because of the huge success, further extension plans are being developed. Vadim

100% Russian product

Shalvovich Vaneev, CEO of the Eurodon Holding, the parent company of Donstar, says: “Our brand represents high-quality, fresh, tasty, tender and succulent duck meat. We are reviving this great, forgotten Russian tradition, a classic. It is a 100% Russian product, made in our Russia for Russians. Duck is becoming an affordable luxury product and is growing in popularity, just like turkey meat. Consumers can choose from a wide variety of attractive Utolina products, such as whole ducks, half ducks, legs, quarters, fillet, wings, giblets, etc. They are superior to what the market had been supplying until now.”

Controllable production for high quality

The whole Donstar project involves the construction of a feed mill, a hatchery, over 60 growing sheds, a processing plant and a waste treatment facility. Control over the whole production chain ensures quality control at all stages of the process and guarantees consumers reliable top quality, a safe product grown and processed in an optimum environment.

The ducks are processed at a high capacity plant with a current capacity of 4,000 ducks per hour (66 pm). The initial yearly capacity of this project is 26,000 tonnes of duck meat. Expansion plans are being developed to expand up to 40,000 tonnes and more.
The modern state-of-the-art plant employs 900 workers and is unique for Russia. A duck processing plant of a similar high capacity with such a level of automation is a rarity anywhere in the world.

GP dedicated for ducks

The Donstar project includes a Stork GP Live Bird Handling system. This smooth way of supplying live ducks makes a significant contribution to the overall efficiency of the processing plant and safeguards the quality of the ducks. After stunning and killing, the ducks are scalded. The dedicated duck scalders are equipped with the extra agitation necessary to ensure that the ducks are kept immersed and the temperature of the scalding water remains constant throughout the unit.

Custom-made defeathering

After scalding, the ducks are defeathered. This is crucially important for product presentation. The plucking action will also determine the extent to which the epidermis remains attached. This is especially important if whole ducks or portions are to be sold fresh, with skin still on the bird.

Marel Stork’s duck pluckers are based on the well-known A-frame concept and have adaptable plucking speeds and adjustable individual beams. Their position can be altered and there are frequency converters at the breast side, all to optimise the plucking result.

At the end of the process, products are weighed, batched, packed, labelled and sent on their way to Russian customers.

Waxing for perfect skin presentation

In duck processing, perfect breast skin presentation is essential. Feathers should be completely removed, but the skin must remain undamaged. Marel Stork is a master of the waxing process. A fully in-line, compact waxing system has been installed at Donstar, including an efficient wax recycling 
system. Products are conveyed through a bath filled with plucking wax. Then they are immersed in a wax cooling tank. Here the wax solidifies and is ready to be removed automatically in a wax peeler, taking off pins and smaller feathers as it peels. The wax is recycled. It is melted, filtered and brought back into the process to be re-used at the correct temperature.


The entire viscera pack is removed completely in a single automated operation. The viscera pack is hung over the breast side. In various automated steps, the ducks are prepared in the best possible way for chilling and all other downstream operations. Harvested giblets are chilled in-line and distributed. Feet are processed into valuable products. After air chilling using the Stork Downflow Plus chilling concept, whole products are selected by weight and quality and then processed in the Marel Stork cut-up area.

Labelling & packing solutions

At the end of the process, products are weighed, batched, packed and labelled in the most efficient way using a Marel Weigh Price Labeller. Labels are produced with the support of user-friendly Innova Software. The labelling module is part of the complete Marel Innova software solution. This solution enables plant management to oversee the processes and their KPIs, allowing any necessary remedial action to be taken at an early stage.

For Marel Stork, Donstar is the latest successful, high speed, automated duck processing greenfield project. It brings the best and latest dedicated duck processing technology together and enables Donstar to stay in pole position in duck processing. The Utolina brand has every opportunity to build on its popularity.

Fabian Brockötter and Marel Stork

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