Marel fish: A North American Heritage

Des Moines Location Front Signs

For 40 years, our North American fish processors and Marel have been transforming processing for a stronger, more sustainable future.

Proudly established in North America since the 1980s, Marel has supported fish processors for more than 40 years. We are passionate about the fish processing industry and driven by the relationships we foster with our customers. Our commitment is not for a day or a year but for a lifetime. 

Relationships and equipment that lasts

In 1986, Icewater Seafoods purchased the first Marel waterproof scales in Canada. With a keen eye for processing solutions, the late Bruce Wareham, founder and former CEO of Icewater Seafoods, saw his company's need for scales to produce five-pound layer packs of cod. Marel's waterproof scales were the perfect solution, "Until we got the Marel scale, we could never find one that was watertight," Wareham remembered. 

Since this first purchase, Marel and Icewater Seafoods' relationship has remained strong. For the past 30 years, Marel has supported both Bruce and Alberto Wareham, Bruce’s son and the current CEO, in times of growth, with high capacity and high yield equipment, but also in hard times, like when the 1992 Cod Moratorium forced the company to decrease its operations dramatically. "To continue surviving after the moratorium hit in '92, we had to reorganize and restructure operations," Bruce Wareham explained. Marel worked with Icewater Seafoods to build solutions that prepared their processing line for the future, from portioning and grading to the latest integrated technology. "We are still using these Marel solutions, we have added different elements since, but these products are still running strong." 

Lenexa Progresspoint 046

Innovation's big and small 

As the world changes, so do the needs of processing lines. Marel engineers have always been excited to create equipment that can address these challenges for all fish processors, whatever their size. 

In the mid 1990s, the salmon industry was changing. Salmon buyers were looking to purchase farmed salmon for the first time and there were discussions in play for commercial filleting in Alaska. With the short six-week season, a shortage of skilled labor and a market hungry for both farmed and wild salmon, hand filleting wasn't a viable choice. 

At the time, the only filleting machine available was expensive and difficult to adjust to salmon's variable sizes. A group of Marel engineers saw the need of their clients and developed the 2611 Salmon Filleting Machine, a.k.a. the Northern Lights. 

With a focus on simple operation, small footprint and affordability, the new machine allowed hundreds of smaller processors to fillet salmon in small batches. It made the short Alaskan salmon season both viable and profitable. 

The Marel salmon team continued to work with the 2611 Salmon Filleting Machine, adding more blades and making adjustments that increased yield and cut quality. In the early 2000s, Marel released the even more advanced CT 2630 Filleting Machine. 

The Connected Advantage  

Although the teams have new faces, Marel's aim to meet our customers' and the fish processing industry's demands has not. Today we recognize an undeniable need for intelligent technology and connectivity to ensure the future of fish processing. As with our equipment, small and large businesses can benefit from the data collection and analysis provided by Innova Food Processing Software. 

Trident Seafoods is an Alaskan-based, integrated seafood harvesting, processing and marketing company. A third-generation business, they share Marel's values of relationships, innovation and sustainability in the fish industry. The Marel development team started working with Trident in 2008 when their goal was to utilize Innova in palletizing for food safety.  

Marel utilizes Innova Food Processing Software (FPS) to bring full integration to all our customers' equipment with machine-to-machine connectivity. Tailoring the software to suit the needs of individual businesses means integration can be gradual or all at once. Innova software has the flexibility to adapt as businesses grow and change. Jarred Brand, Trident's Director of Manufacturing Engineering and Technology, says that for Trident, "[Innova software] solves all the business challenges around traceability, packaging, order control and inventory management." 

Today, most of Trident's processing facilities run with Innova Software and their relationship with Marel is stronger than ever. Brand can't see this changing in the future, "We're seeing a lot of change around automation. A lot of new fish processing facilities are getting more and more automated, more and more robotics. I see the software over the next couple of years adapting with that change and providing more data."

MS 2730 Fillets

Where are we going to tomorrow

With consumer demand driving markets, labor scarcity affecting production and changing environmental conditions making raw material usage increasingly crucial for the bottom line. Marel engineers design innovative robotics and advanced technology that are precise, flexible and scalable to ensure processors of all sizes have adaptability for the future. "Our aim is always to help our customers improve their efficiencies and yields in a market which is now changing at a faster pace than ever before," states Christian Bols, Marel's North American vp of sales for the fish industry. 

Scotia Harvest in Canada teamed with Marel to help them capitalize on the exploding redfish numbers in the Gulf of Satin Lawrence, an estimated 4.4 million ton in the water. In 2021 Scotia Harvest opened a new fish processing facility equipped with an advanced Marel production line. "This plant was built from the ground up for process flow so that the fish doesn't stop moving when it enters the processing line and ends in the box. And that's a big change from how a lot of the plants do it, at least here in Atlantic Canada," says Alain d'Entremont, president and part owner of Scotia Harvest. 

At Marel, we value the opportunity to bring the most advanced equipment and technology to fish processors. To do this, we foster partnerships with other leaders in the field so we can offer an expanded equipment portfolio and increased knowledge and expertise. These partnerships also ensure our service network is constantly growing, providing local experts to help processors keep production lines running at optimal capacity, whenever and wherever they are. 

When Bristol Seafoods, Maine, invested in new Marel equipment and technology, they wanted to automate their growing groundfish processing facility. They needed equipment that could give them new processing capabilities, increase their yield and reduce handling. "This investment and partnership with Marel gives us new capabilities that bring our customers unmatched quality, consistency, precision and customization," stated Bristol President and CEO Peter Handy. 


Transforming the future together 

At Marel, we do not operate in a vacuum but work with fish processors to find solutions that meet their equipment, software and service needs, keeping them competitive in a competitive market. Since the 1980s, North American fish processors and Marel have been working together to transform seafood processing and ensure the sustainable production of high-quality food long into the future. 

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