October 07, 2022 — Alternative seafood processing technologies and improving aquaculture efficiency can help alleviate significant pressure from the traditional sector, which is known to emit significant gas emissions greenhouse gases while dramatically reducing global fishing.
To this end, pioneering innovators are exploring new methods of preserving freshly caught fish based on precise freezing cells, while advanced monitoring systems provide better oversight of aquaculture management.
Australian B2B open innovation platform EarlyBirds has published a map of the latest activity across the seafood industry, which showcases some of the latest technological advancements.
“Today, innovations and disruptive technologies are addressing complex challenges in the aquaculture industry value chain,” comments Jeff Penrose, co-founder of EarlyBirds.
“This includes the need to decarbonize and adopt sustainable practices,” he points out.
“We can even focus on a single category that is relevant to a particular component of the industry, including sustainability and net zero operations.”
Slow Power Down
Overfishing and rampant fishing has led to the depopulation of marine life in many fishing hotspots around the world and has even led to the extinction of some prized catch species.
EarlyBirds sees aquaculture as an antidote to meeting seafood demand in light of government restrictions and declining wild fish populations due to overfishing or climate change.
In 2018, the industry reached an estimated turnover of US$232 billion and generated 80 million metric tons of food, even exceeding the total beef biomass produced. Most of the innovations in the industry come from the improvement of facilities for raising salmon, which is in high demand due to its high nutritional value.
The cost of feeding fish is the biggest obstacle, points out Kris Poria, co-founder of EarlyBirds.
“Commercial fish feed is made from groundfish and fish oil, which in turn depends on the production of wild fisheries of small forage fish or other aquaculture operations.”
“Some of the ways to solve this problem are to use vegetable proteins and oils or even farmed insects or microalgae as fish feed. Genetic selection and controlled breeding can be used to breed fish that have higher survival rates and a better meat to body mass ratio.
A recent study has highlighted that increasing the volume of recycled food system by-products and residues in feed and ingredients remains a key means of offsetting competition between aquaculture feed production and industry. F&B as a whole.
Mechanize seafood production
On the mechanical side of things, Poria points out that innovations in robotics can be used to create aquaculture facilities that can operate with minimal supervision, reducing labor costs.
Advanced sensors that can stay completely submerged “can almost indefinitely supercharge the data researchers need to fine-tune their processes,” he shares.
Supply chains can also be optimized using Internet of Things (IoT) connected vehicles and refrigeration solutions to reduce transport times and costs and ensure only fresh fish reaches the table. Some scientists have even suggested the use of drones to monitor onshore and offshore fish farm equipment.
While conservation strategies remain key to eliminating food waste, Anyong Biotechnology, a Taiwan-based aquatic food processing company, has emerged into the limelight as the first company in the region to use Cells Alive System (CAS) technology. ) from Japan.
CAS allows seafood to be stored for long periods of time while preserving freshness in a way previously not possible with traditional freezing methods. CAS prevents quality degradation over long periods of time, overcoming limitations of time and place to expand the possibilities of “you can only eat here or now” food.
“Exceptional quality comes from a top-level processing environment, technology and food safety management system. CAS technology gives you fish as fresh as if you lived next to a seaport,” says Guo Zhi Hui, President of Anyong Biotechnology.
The system is marketed among the most developed freezing technologies in Asia, according to the company.
Originally a medical-grade technology for freezing stem cells, CAS has the ability to preserve the freshness of ingredients while retaining the nutritional value and taste of fresh catch after thawing.
To do this, the CAS engine ensures that cell tissues remain intact during the freezing process. It generates a special magnetic field around fresh food which includes a mixture of pulsating magnetic fields, low frequency waves and several other types of weak energy, causing the water molecules inside to vibrate.
Ice crystals can form while the cell wall and membrane integrity remain intact, protecting against water loss from food. In addition, this process is done without adding additives.
The seafood giant’s foray into vegetables
Meanwhile, Thai Union, a traditional global seafood heavyweight, has notably turned its attention to the area of alternative proteins – which continues to capture consumer attention for its eco-centric positioning. The maker of Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods recently formed an alliance in North America with plant-based seafood brand, The ISH Food Company.
“We are excited to expand our reach in the alternative protein space through this alliance with The ISH Food Company,” said Maarten Geraets, Thai Union General Manager for Alternative Protein.
“Our venture capital business arm has worked closely with innovative alternative protein start-ups as we increase our focus and investment in sustainable seafood alternatives.”
As a leading distributor of frozen shrimp and pasteurized crabmeat in North America, Thai Union is highlighting its expertise in the seafood category, which it will leverage in this new market.
In a recent survey by Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods, grocery and foodservice executives and buyers received many requests for plant-based (35%) and lab-grown (31%) seafood this year. %).
Among other alternative seafood developments in recent weeks, Forsea Foods has brought its new concept of cell-based eel “closer to natural perfection”, it says, thanks to its patented organoid technology.
Meanwhile, Spain-based Mimic Seafood is expanding its production capacity in Madrid to bring more consumers its tomato-based tuna sushi, while cell-based sashimi and farmed fish products from Bluu Seafood are about to make a splash in Singapore.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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