Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

ULTRAFISH Report Summary

Project ID: 709452

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ULTRAFISH (ULTRASOUND TECHNOLOGY FOR BETTER QUALITY AND SHELF LIFE OF FISHERY PRODUCTS)

Reporting period: 2015-11-01 to 2016-02-29

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

SCANFISK is a Spanish company based in Zaragoza specialised in fish processing of fresh & frozen products. With three business areas (fresh, frozen and processed fish), we produce a wide range of products (over 50) in two formats, bulk and packaged, and deliver to national and European markets over 6K tonnes of fish products/year. With over 25 years’ experience in the fishing industry, our main objective is to continue improving the quality and quantity of fish products to cope with the increasing European demand for healthy fish products (average annual consumption of 23Kg/fish per capita) by developing ULTRAFISH: a novel technology based on the use of ultrasounds that will increase the commercial shelf life of fish products. The process is based on the application of a known technology, used in other technological areas, which are now transferred to the food sector. This technology has not been applied so far in fishery products (fish and seafood). Ultrasound is also environmentally and economically sustainable, significantly reducing the use of water and energy resources during fish processing as well as reducing waste generation.
The aim of the project is to develop a new process that will deliver on the market fresh and processed fish products (frozen and rehydrated) with high sensory quality, longer commercial shelf life and will prevent or decrease the amount of additives needed, which will help to overcome all existing legislative barriers in some countries (like United Kingdom), and can thus penetrate new international markets. The proposed technology is an ecological process that not only will require less energy and water but also will efficiently use raw materials during the whole life cycle, which will benefit both fish processing companies and the end user.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The technical viability study has demonstrated that the application of ultrasound will reduce the processing times (from 3 days to 1 day) maintaining the quality of fish products. This will contribute to increase the production capacity by 38%. Using a lab scale technology (5L water capacity), ultrasound parameters were optimised to achieve the best results, which proves our technology readiness level (TRL). Moreover, we have identified the next steps required to implement the technology at industrial scale (work packages), and identified the key third parties that need to be involved in the process.
The commercial viability plan has helped us to better define our target markets (Spain, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium), our main competitors and the key stakeholders that will be involved during the commercialisation plan (distributor channels and retailers). Results from the internal survey with current customers have also given us strategic insights about how to correctly promote our products based on their needs (mainly related to price increase concerns).
As part of the risk assessment analysis, we have identified the potential risks at technical and commercial level that may arise during the implementation of ULTRAFISH. The patent search results shown that we have the freedom to operate, hence we have defined a specific IPR strategy for our innovation to protect the results.
ULTRAFISH is aligned with the overall strategy of Scanfisk and our needs, which are increasing our profit margin by optimising our processes and improving the quality and quantity of our products. The innovation has the potential to boost the growth of Scanfisk, increasing our sales by almost 28% maintaining our current cost structure.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Ultrasound is a technology that is emerging as a ‘green and innovative’ technique in the Food sector. It is well-known that ultrasounds have significant effect on the rate of preservation, reducing the microbiological activity (99.9%), the processing times (80%) and costs (20%), eliminating post-treatment of water waste and consuming less energy (30%), but still not fully applied within the fish processing industry. Thus, ULTRAFISH will materialise this opportunity. Moreover, differently from other novel processing techniques as microwaves or gamma radiation, sound waves are considered safe, non-toxic and environment-friendly. In comparison with pasteurisation, ultrasounds can achieve similar antimicrobial effects but at low temperatures, which is perfect for fish products as they need to maintain freezing temperatures. The application of ultrasound to fish products can be then an advantage since its preservative effects allow more optimal use of fish products throughout the whole supply chain, increasing their quality and commercial shelf life up to 12 days.
The main goals for ULTRAFISH are:
- Apply an environment-friendly technology: safe and non-toxic equipment, fully automated and reliable.
- Increase production capacity by 35%: processing times will be reduced by 3-4 days allowing 12 extra processing cycles. Fish products will be quicker processed and therefore purchased onto the market.
- Water will be reused at least 4 times, which in turn will save 6.5 million litres per year of water waste.
- Longer marketability time: shelf life will be increased from 7 days to 10-12 days, enabling better acces to new geographical markets at far distances (Asia, USA).
- Lower processing costs: energy and water consumption will be reduced between 30-50%, as well as the use of additives and extra disinfection treatments, which in turn will reduce the overall production cost of fish products by 20%.
- Finished product will have a clean label thanks to the reduction/elimination of additives. This will contribute to access markets with stricter regulations, like UK.

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