05/05/14 Updated 31/05/19

Putting quality first

Dutch smoked salmon producer Zalmhuis Steur, in Monnickendam, defines itself through high quality. They value using traditional processing methods, but embrace automation that can promise an improvement in quality, and thus enjoy a strong partnership with Marel.

Smoking sustainable fish products using traditional methods is a challenge, but Zalmhuis Steur has done so since 1919, and the trademark taste of their products is acclaimed by customers – from top connoisseurs and wholesalers, to the consumer at home.

“Salmon is continually being tampered with, for example with injections and added aromas. That’s not the way we do things,” explains Gert Schram, Zalmhuis Steur Manager. “We don’t even add preservatives to our fish: just salt. We also set great store by sustainability and we want our production methods to be ecologically accountable.

“Maximizing profit is not our primary objective. For example, we try to make the best possible use of our fish offal and to use it to develop new products. We also keep a critical eye on our suppliers’ farming methods, making regular trips to Norway to see for ourselves.”

Perfect slices

Zalmhuis Steur faces the same challenge each and every day: to perfect the processes and to take things up a notch one step at a time, without compromising quality in any way. “We like to increase production, but not if that means rushing the salmon through the smokehouse using a standard technique. Quality is everything,” says Schram.

Zalmhuis Steur gives a lot of thought to any investment that raises the level of automation, but whenever improvements in efficiency and quality go hand in hand, Zalmhuis Steur and Marel are quick to strike a deal, such as when they set out to achieve the best slicing results.

Schram says, “We bought several Marel cutting machines, slicers such as the Geba 125 Vision Slicer and the MSC 650-45 Horizontal Slicer. Salmon is not a consistent product, and it has a head and a tail. Try to get standard-sized portions out of that! But now the slicers have made that possible. This is a great improvement to our efficiency, as it makes it far easier to create measured portions. It simplifies handling enormously.”