Scott Technology has agreed in principle to purchase French technology company Normaclass to expand its meat processing capability.

The Normaclass system uses digital cameras to collect data and measurements of each carcass. That data is then analysed in real-time to determine a carcass classification that, combined with weight and market prices, is used to determine the price paid to the farmer.

"Normaclass has long-standing and extensive relationships throughout the large French and Uruguayan red meat industries," Dunedin-based Scott said in a statement to the NZX.

"These relationships will offer Scott exciting opportunities to showcase our wider meat automation technology, our bandsaw safety technology – Bladestop - and backend logistics within these markets."

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Scott says Normaclass has a record of profitability. Earnings from the transaction are expected to be "modest" in the context of the wider group, but should be immediate, the company said. Terms will be detailed when the deal is settled next month.

Chief executive Chris Hopkins did not disclose a price but said the purchase is "not significant or material." According to Hopkins, the "acquisition is considered a bolt on acquisition providing access to the technology and markets."

Scott, half-owned by Brazilian meat processor JBS, gets about a quarter of its revenue from meat processing. It also provides automation systems, robotics and process machinery for the appliances, industrial automation, mining and materials handling sectors. Its biggest markets are the Americas, Europe and Australia.

Scott has expanded rapidly through acquisition in the past five years. Last year it employed more than 770 staff worldwide with Europe overtaking New Zealand as the largest worker base for the first time.

During the 2018 financial year it acquired Belgian industrial automation specialist Alvey Group and North Carolina-based automated guided vehicle manufacturer Transbotics. In January it acquired the spares and sundries business of Milmeq Meat Slaughter.

This week Scott said the Normaclass purchase fits with its broader goal of building out the group's suite of image-related technologies.

Not only does the firm have an established product in that market, but the purchase should also advance the group's wider research and development in those areas.

Normaclass also provides a complementary technology for Scott's DEXA x-ray system for customers who simply want an objective carcass grading tool, it said.

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