SWEDISH company Hälsingestintan has come up with a novel idea to improve beef animal welfare and meat quality – mobile abattoirs that visit the animals' home farm, entirely removing any live transport from the food chain.
The two-trailer abattoir trailer design is completely autonomous, with its own electricity, water and heating, offices and changing rooms, slaughterhouse, and a cold store for the meat. It goes directly to the farm, a veterinarian is on hand to ensure good animal welfare, and the animals are lead to the slaughter wagon by the farmer, who of course is very well known to them.
The capacity of the rig varies, but the basic staff of four people slaughter up to thirty animals a day, whereafter the meat is transported to the company's hanging hall, for tenderising and cutting.
Professor Emeritus Bo Algers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences explained the thinking behind the mobile service: "Good animal welfare makes the animals less stressed, which gives a better meat quality and durability. An operation whereby the animal is exposed to stress before slaughter can cause changes in the pH course and consumption of glycogen that can lead to poorer meat quality."
Having pioneered the concept in Sweden, the man behind the company, Franck Ribière, is now taking Hälsingestintan to France, and hopes that its stress-free model will be taken up in other countries where consumers appreciate the link between animal welfare and eating quality.
"We are passionate about providing ethical meat to our consumers," said Mr Ribière. "We are dedicated to good animal welfare and high quality meat. Our ethical concept for meat production eliminates all slaughter transportation, thus improving animal welfare, as the cattle are slaughtered on the farm in their familiar home environment and avoid stressful transportation. 
"The concept also includes a digital chain of custody, informing the customer exactly which farm the animal comes from – and this in turn brings farmers and consumers closer together. The aim is to achieve sustainable meat production, where better animal welfare and high meat quality go hand in hand."
Hälsingestintan has attracted a lot of interest internationally, and France, where consumers have long been protesting against poor animal husbandry in the meat industry, is the first foreign market to adopt the Swedish concept.
“We are absolutely convinced that this concept is ideal for the French market," said Mr Ribière. "I have spent many years travelling the world on a quest for the perfect meat, and have long wanted to improve animal welfare. We give French consumers a good reason to carry on eating meat, produced in a sustainable, ethical way."
He has now entered into an agreement with French company SAS Boeuf Ethique, whereby Hälsingestintan will transfer its knowledge of animal welfare, mobile slaughter and traceability, with the goal of having the mobile business established there during 2017.
Company co-founder Britt-Marie Stegs added that she saw the new agreement as a step in the right direction for spreading knowledge of more ethical, sustainable meat production to more countries: “I am delighted to see Hälsingestintan’s concept – a concept based on values such as honesty, transparency, good animal welfare and high meat quality – making an impact also outside of Sweden. The farmers, the animals and the consumers all deserve this,” she said.