Piscicultura Cristalina automates tilapia packing

Piscicultura Cristalina Target Batcher 2

Maintaining the exact weight specified on the packaging, avoiding overweight and adhering to legislation represent key challenges for small to medium-sized fish processors. In manual processing, where operators use scales to batch fixed-weight packs, various inaccuracies can arise. These errors often lead to reworking and suboptimal utilization of raw materials. Delivering packs that weigh less than the tare weight could expose your company to legal issues. Conversely, opting for overweight leads to waste and lost profits.

Integrating an automated solution into the packing process at the end of the production line presents a viable alternative for processors aiming to ensure both efficiency and precision in their batching operations.

Piscicultura Cristalina Tilapia Packing

Selecting the TargetBatcher

Ideal for enhancing end-of-line processing for small and medium-sized businesses, Piscicultura Cristalina chose the TargetBatcher as the optimal solution to meet their requirements. The family-owned business, located in the southwest region of São Paulo, Brazil, processes about 15 tons of fish daily, yielding roughly 5 tons of fillets.

A robust and easy-to-sanitize fillet batching solution, the TargetBatcher ensures exceptional weight accuracy and food safety standards. It has enabled traditional tilapia processors to meet market demands for fixed-weight packaging, particularly for smaller portions weighing less than half a kilogram.

Piscicultura Cristalina Target Batcher

The TargetBatcher’s advanced technology and high return on investment (ROI) were determining factors in the company’s decision to acquire the solution. “When we purchased the TargetBatcher, we were already familiar with Marel’s equipment. In our experience, it’s the most reliable. When it operates and receives the correct preventive maintenance, the factory does not stop because of a piece of equipment or a defect. The machine runs perfectly,” says Mauro Tadashi Nakata, partner-owner of Piscicultura Cristalina, expressing his satisfaction with the results.


Nakata emphasizes several positive aspects of the fillet batching machine, such as its seven high-accuracy individual scales and 14 holding bins, dynamic and high-precision weighing capabilities, ease of operation—controlled by a single employee—and the machine’s robustness, which allows it to function very well in a freezer environment. “Sanitizing the machine is also fairly simple; it involves using a foam jet, scrubbing and a water jet,” Nakata adds.


Ideal products for a discerning market

Given the decrease in family size and limited refrigerator space, particularly in larger cities, consumers are seeking practical and convenient options. The precision of Marel’s equipment in batching fixed-weight products made a significant difference in Piscicultura Cristalina’s final production line. The company, with fillets making up its largest market share, targets this consumer demographic and caters to its customers in a tailored manner.


Piscicultura Cristalina produces and sells whole tilapia, red tilapia—also known as Saint Peter’s fish—and fresh and chilled fillets. “Whole fish represents an increasingly smaller percentage of our business, or currently about 15% of sales, while fillets represent about 85%, with increasing volume,” reports Nakata.


Fresh fillets account for 50-55% of sales volume and are destined to fish markets and supermarket chains. As for frozen fillets, a significant portion is distributed to restaurants and foodservice. For these customers, the company provides customized portioning, taking into account the grade, fillet size and weight of each portion.


“We have customers who need fillets that total 240 g in average weight, for example, but we also take orders for fillets in half-kilo packs or larger portions,” Nakata explains, adding that the fish farm also offers two products in 400 g packs, intended for retail.

Piscicultura Cristalina Target Batcher 2

Before acquiring the TargetBatcher, Piscicultura Cristalina’s packing process was manual. “We started producing these packs manually, using hand scales. When we received positive feedback from customers and consumers, we realized that in order to increase volume, as well as ensure greater accuracy and safety in product weight, we would need an automated solution,” says Nakata.

The TargetBatcher ensures precise weighing, which is dynamic, and streamlined the packing process, ensuring a fixed weight for the packs. Given that the operation of the TargetBatcher is relatively straightforward, the company found it easy to integrate into their production workflow.

Piscicultura Cristalina Tilapia

Strategic partnership

Piscicultura Cristalina’s relationship with Marel began in 2016, when the company was finalizing the construction of a more modern facility. As a global leader in innovative food processing solutions, Marel was deemed the perfect partner to supply the necessary technologies for the new, larger plant with its well-designed workflows.


“Marel is a strategic partner. Their various solutions have become vital to the operation of our plant. We believe that, with time, we will acquire new equipment that will further benefit and increase the productivity of our industry,” says Nakata.


Nakata got to know Marel through the recommendation of a relative, also from the fish industry. “At the time, I needed a skinner and a fillet grader, and he referred me to this equipment because it was the most reliable and effective in processing. I had great experiences with those solutions, and they are still working today,” he says. “When the demand arose for a fillet batch machine to work with fixed-weight packs, I talked to Marel’s commercial team. They introduced me to the TargetBatcher, explained how it worked and what benefits it could bring to our industry. We bought the machine and it did everything we needed it to do.”


About Piscicultura Cristalina

Piscicultura Cristalina has been in the tilapia fish farming business since 2002. However, the owners’ experience in the industry predates this period and is deeply ingrained in the family’s DNA. The family patriarch, Mauro Yoshio Nakata, had been working with fish farming since 1992.

Piscicultura Cristalina Building

Currently, Piscicultura Cristalina primary focus lies in farming, processing and distribution of tilapia within the domestic market, primarily in the state of São Paulo. In 2008, the company expanded its operations to include tilapia processing activities, transitioning from solely selling to catch-and-pay and fish markets without processing. From 2008 to 2016, Piscicultura Cristalina operated a small-scale facility. Then in 2016, they completed the construction of a larger and more efficiently designed facility, where they currently specialize in tilapia filleting.

“As a medium-sized family business, we always seek to offer the best products and partner with the best customers. We know we can’t compete on volume, so our focus is to deliver the best fillets and fish, always fresh,” says Nakata. “In addition, we try to be present in good supermarket chains and restaurants that value this type of product. We also offer customized services for our customers, such as packing according to their needs,” he adds.


Like Marel, Piscicultura Cristalina is deeply committed to sustainability. In addition to strict adherence to environmental regulations, they engage in reforestation initiatives along the dam banks and implement top-of-the-line effluent treatment systems tailored to the requirements of the industry.


Piscicultura Cristalina’s successful collaboration with Marel and their dedication to sustainability and customer satisfaction exemplify their position as a forward-thinking player in the fish processing market.


Read more about the TargetBatcher

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