Dr. Jón Thrándur Stefánsson, Head of Research at Markó Partners and Editor of the Seafood Intelligence Report, spoke about how the market dynamics are changing in the whitefish sector, with a special emphasis on the product flows in the market and strategic positioning of companies within the sector.
Jón Thrándur discussed consolidation and competitiveness in the context of lessons learned from other sectors, such as aquaculture. He predicted future trends and challenges and talked in particular about the power of retailers and how processors are changing the value chain as they adjust to constant evolution in the industry.
Leif Inge Karlsen, Founder and former Director of Lerøy Hydrotech, shared his extensive experience and knowledge of fish farming and production, highlighting where whitefish processors can gain from lessons already learned in the salmon processing industry to increase the quality of wild whitefish products.
He spoke both in broad terms and with specific examples such as fish handling, explaining how “the whitefish industry has now started to copy the salmon industry.” He compared this to a similar trend some 60 years ago when the dried fish producers competed with fresh fish producers in a similar way.
Leif expressed his optimism about the future of whitefish processing, but concluded that, “The whitefish industry must increase quality and supply processing plants not just on a seasonal basis, but must also catch during other months to supply the market.”
Jorge J. Alonso Ygea, CMO at Scanfisk Seafood, shared Scanfisk’s experience of gaining the competitive edge by constantly applying new technology and investing in research, development and innovation. “New” was the key word of Jorge’s presentation. He said that being innovative is more than simply having a state-of-the-art facility.
Jorge says that it’s about innovation across the whole process – from product development to ways to achieve low energy consumption, to creating new products that use the same raw materials but introduce new cuts, new tastes, new packaging and new branding.
So the companies that are keeping ahead are the ones that are making full use of advances in cutting, portioning, marinating and packaging technology.
Attendees then entered the demo hall where Marel’s vision to create a virtually hands-free process throughout production was widely apparent. Within Marel’s customers’ reach now is the process whereby pre-trim is the last place the fish is touched by human hands.
A new configuration of the FleXicut line attracted a lot of interest, especially the packing robots on the line that automate the process even more, and the new pre-trim solution.
The automation of bone removal with FleXicut raises productivity and greatly improves product handling and yield, and the new features automate this process even further, as demonstrated during the showhow.
The FleXicut solution at the event included a SensorX bone detection machine, which serves as an automated QC station. Einar Hlödver Sigurdsson, Marel Product Manager, said that people were especially impressed by the re-work system.
“With a SensorX on the line, processors have a huge advantage in being able to guarantee bone-free fish,” Einar said. “It’s also a good example of our emphasis on providing new solutions, new ways of doing things, and how this event gives our customers a chance to look at the array of solutions and equipment available to them.”
Attendees were also given the opportunity to walk through a computer rendered model of a modern fish processing facility in Iceland. This virtual reality experience gives a unique insight into automatic whitefish processing with a FleXicut line. The FleXicut water-jet cutter is a great example of Marel’s focus on cutting-edge innovation and technology.
A selection of Marel’s range of further processing equipment was also featured at the event. As Karin Verstraaten, DemoCenter Food Technologist at Marel Further Processing, explained, “We’ve got the RotoCrumb producing breaded products and visitors were impressed, and perhaps even surprised, by the uniform crumb distribution, even using large crumbs which is perfect for fish.”
Karin explained that fish processors coming to the showhow sometimes aren’t even aware that Marel offers coating, breading, marinating, forming and cooking equipment. “There’s a lot of potential for fish processors to move into the production of value-added fish and seafood products,” she said.
Other further processing equipment in the demo hall included the ValueSpray for marinating, with the marinated product then distributed into microwavable packs from Cryovac®.
While demonstrations were running, attendees could keep track of all the data in the Innova Food Processing Software office in the demo hall.
Data is increasingly valuable in today’s hi-tech processing environment, and the ability to track and analyze data is key to fish processors being competitive. The event showed people the data being generated by the machines in real time and how this data is key to gaining full production control.
The Whitefish ShowHow is held at Progress Point, Marel’s state-of-the-art demonstration and training center in Copenhagen.
Media inquiries: Stella Kristinsdóttir, Marketing Manager Marel Fish: firstname.lastname@example.org