CONSUMER demand is driving seafood product quality and diversity to new heights, Marel, the international food processing equipment company, will tell the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Bergen next week.
Marel executives will be speaking at the forum’s aquaculture and salmon seminar on Tuesday to address how technological advances are rapidly elevating levels of automation in the seafood processing industry.
The company has said these are exciting times for anyone involved in fish processing, with the rate and global spread of increasing automation amounting to a revolution in the industry.
Marel’s core markets – salmon, cod and tilapia – have enjoyed ground breaking advances in the past 12 months, with more expected in the year ahead.
Sigurdur Olason, managing director of Marel Fish, said in advance of the forum: ‘While the main driver for higher levels of automation is the reduction in manpower available, particularly in Europe and North America. But it’s the technology and innovation that delivers practical solutions to this challenge.’
Olason said a recent example of increased automation in the salmon industry is the installation of China’s first fully automatic processing line.
‘Chinese processors have traditionally been known for a heavily hands-on approach to fish processing. So this installation in China highlights the widespread significance of automation in the global salmon industry.’
And as the cod industry looks to innovate and optimise the value chain, pinbone removal has been automated both on land and on sea, and the first Marel FleXicut pinbone removal and portioning systems have now been installed on freezing trawlers as part of a complete modernisation of onboard processing.
Marel’s most recent contribution to the revolution of cod processing is the addition of a new pre-trim solution and packing robots to the FleXicut system.
‘This means that pre-trim can be the last place the fish is touched by human hands,’ said Olason.
He said companies were increasingly prepared to invest in technology to compensate for a diminishing supply of labour.
‘In the South American tilapia industry, the desire to process larger volumes is also pushing automation.’
Picture: Marel Fish managing director Sigurdur Olason will address the forum in Bergen