After weathering manifold stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fish processing industry is rolling out a wide variety of new machines. European manufacturers are de-licing without chemicals and slicing filets with speed, while a private-public research collective is building new ways to turn sidestream into commercially viable products. These latest releases could move more fish out the door – and faster than ever.
Multi-national food processing company Marel has released a trio of new machines: the Retail Pack Slicer I-Slice 3400, Pinbone Remover MS 2610 and Salmon Deheader MIS 2721.
The single- and dual-lane versions of the Pinbone Remover MS 2610 can process up to 18 and 36 filets a minute, respectively. Each lane uses five liters of water a minute, a roughly 20% reduction from other bone removers according to the July issue of Marel’s in-house publication, Insight Magazine.
“The Pinbone Remover has three speed settings for the pinbone roller to adapt to the varying condition of the fish,” according to the product specifications. “Likewise, the pressure on the pinbone heads can quickly be adjusted by a weight bar if needed.”
A drip tray and filter unit for collecting the bones and offal are sold separately.
The Salmon Deheader MIS 2721 uses a vision camera to make the most efficient cut on each fish. After the neckbone is cut, the knives v-cut along the collarbone and the remaining “salmon is measured before the tail is cut and delivered to the outfeed, ready for fileting,” according to Marel’s website. It can process up to 25 fish a minute.
Also designed for salmon processing, the I-Slice 3400 is capable of handling up to nearly 200 pounds an hour. It slices filets from less than one-tenth of an inch to 0.79 inches thick. The standard cutting angle interval can be set between eight and 40 degrees; the upgraded interval can reach 72 degrees. It is operated from a multi-lingual color touch screen.
“Marel offers complete solutions with up to four slicing units, including checkweighing and rework stations,” the company stated in its July Insight Magazine.
Food processing equipment manufacturer BAADER expanded its operations in February with the acquisition of SKAGINN 3X Group, an Icelandic-based food chilling and processing tech company.
“With SKAGINN 3X being a full member of BAADER, we can now position ourselves as a full solution provider for all fish species,” BAADER Managing Director Robert Focke said at the time in a news release.
There was “almost no overlap in the portfolios” of the two companies, BAADER North America CEO Nils Rabe commented. “Together we are really coming closer to… [being] able to provide complete solutions to the customers,” which he says is more popular in the market following the pandemic.
BAADER’s recent releases are designed for a variety of species. The BAADER 581 Pro filets and trims farmed salmon and trout, as well as wild-caught coho, sockeye and tuna—whether pre- or post-rigor.
Also, with a 20% smaller footprint than previous generations, the tightened housing also dampens the sound. The high-speed machine can filet up to 25 fish a minute. Its working range depends on the species, ranging from 1.2 kilograms of gutted farmed trout to seven kilograms of gutted farmed salmon.
Additionally, its optional belly trim tool “integrates the main trimming effort into the fileting machine” to allow “for different cutting patterns and is completely integrated into the recipe management system,” according to the company.
“This is the most advanced machine for salmon,” Rabe said.
The dynamic back knife increases yield by up to 3%, according to Rabe, who said he’s hearing from customers that the implementation of BAADER equipment is producing a 15% growth on grade-A product making it into the freezer.
Tentatively slated for release to the North American market in early 2023 is BADDER’s 189 Pro, an updated version of the BAADER 189 whitefish fileting machine.
“Not only we, but our customers, call (the 189) a legend,” Rabe remarked. “The 1989 Pro is answering continuous demand from the market.”
The Pro’s computer-controlled cutting elements can be adjusted to process multiple whitefish species. Its cutting elements are computer controlled, in contrast to the 189’s mechanical adjustments. Early head-to-head testing between the 189 Pro and a recently serviced 189 indicates the machine may be able to provide an up to 2% yield increase.
While the Pro can handle a variety of whitefish and will be broadly available, it was designed specifically with the North American market in mind, according to BAADER, due to the popularity of the initial 189 along the U.S. East Coast and in Alaska.
Fish processing machinery company Optimar’s new Optiflush removes sea lice from trout and salmon with temperate water and repeated flushing. There are no chemicals or medical substances used to eradicate the parasite.
“The technology uses nozzles placed 360-degrees around the fish to effectively and gently remove lice, either as a stand-alone unit, or after treatment with thermal de-lice technology, such as Optilicer,” according to Optimar’s website. Aquaculture testing by research and development company Akvaplan-niva, found the treatment temperature with the Optiflush was two degrees colder than without it with a 97% reduction in moving-stage salmon lice and scabies.
WaSeaBi, a four-year project funded by the European Union, is working to create storage, sorting and decision technologies to make use of the 70% of aquatic biomass that ends up as sidestreams. The joint effort involves 13 partners from across four European countries, including research universities and private companies like Barna, which specializes in producing fish oil and fishmeal from byproducts.
To date, its most developed technology is a sorter that parses a fish into five pieces, keeping cut-offs like heads, backbones and tails from being contaminated by things like blood intestinal residue. With that separation, all parts of the fish can be used for food and other products like protein isolates, oils and hydrolysates.
“With our new sorting method, the whole fish is treated with the same care as the filet,” research lead Ingrid Undeland, professor of food science at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, explained. “The focus is on preserving quality throughout the entire value chain.”
“Instead of putting the various sidestreams into a single bin to become by-products, they are handled separately, just like in the meat industry,” Undeland said.
WaSeaBi member company Sweden Pelagic AB, which handles roughly 15,000 tons of herring annually as the largest primary herring producer in Sweden, has already implemented the sorter into its workflow.
“The sorting technology gives us a lot more possibilities to develop new healthy and tasty seafood. In the long run, we hope it will give us better revenue,” CEO Martin Kuhlin said. “I think that it will give us great advantages in the future. The technology will make it possible to extend our product range.”
“This year, we estimate that we will produce around 200 to 300 tons of ‘herring mince’ and the ambition is to increase that number every year,” Kuhlin said.