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Application of high power ultrasounds (HPUs) to improve the sustainability in meat TENderize and BRINe processes

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TENBRIN (Application of high power ultrasounds (HPUs) to improve the sustainability in meat TENderize and BRINe processes)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-02-28

Meat tenderness is the most important quality attribute sought after by consumers, therefore it strongly influences their re-purchase intent and their choice of particular meat cut. Before placing the meat in the market a tenderization process is always needed in order to overcome the unavoidable natural process called “rigor mortis” that occurs after slaughter and makes meat tough to the point that it becomes not edible.
Ageing, the natural tenderization process widely used by meat producers, consists in holding the meat unpacked (dry ageing) or vacuum packed (wet ageing) under refrigeration for long periods (7 – 90 days depending on the age of the animal and the meat cut. The main limitation of the process is that is highly time- and energy-consuming (more than 28.000 Kw per carcass) resulting in high processing costs (e.g. 3,000 € for a 500Kg carcass tenderized 15 days, 0.4 €/Kg per day). Longer tenderization periods required for tougher cuts make the process unprofitable for meat producers who finally sell these cuts as minced or processed meat, losing market value. In this scenario, it is clear why the meat industry is strongly interested in a more efficient solution for meat tenderization, which can help increase profit margins in fresh meat products and revalorize those tougher beef meats.
Trying to provide a solution to this problem, we have developed TENBRIN: a high efficient equipment for meat tenderization based on High Power Ultrasounds technology as an alternative to traditional aging. Our optimized tenderization process will lead to a time reduction up to 80% for the whole tenderization process for a wide range of meat cuts and animal types. Moreover, we considered the possibility to expand its functionality to meat brining, prompted by the demonstrated ability of HPUS to accelerate mass transfer in food systems making it an ideal solution for this kind of processes. With our innovative equipment we address to meat processing industry as well as to big supermarkets, hypermarkets and Cash & Carry that have their own meat processing and packaging plants, offering the solution for obtaining high quality meat with minimum operating costs.
From a technical point of view RI-LAVO has re-evaluated the initial technological objectives and analysed in detail the requirements for optimization and production of all the components of TENBRIN. The challenges to be faced in each case have been studied and led to valuable conclusions on the next steps to be taken in order to ensure the evolution of TRL6 to TRL9. RI-LAVO has identified and preselected raw materials and service suppliers based on long and successful previous collaborations although backup alternatives has been also considered in order to fill in any unexpected gap during project execution. RI-LAVO approached key partners such as FELISARI, a US solutions provider, and also key stakeholders in the meat industry that have expressed their interest to participate as end users in the TENBRIN project.
The tasks necessary for product optimization and manufacturing have been outlined. The technical requirements for final validation at full operational environment have been also described and potential end-users have been identified. Moreover, a technical analysis to identify potential technical, commercial and managerial risks assessment has been carried out and the adequate contingency measures have been determined.
From a commercial point of view RI-LAVO conducted a detailed market analysis including market value and growth rate, market drivers and trends and competitor profiling. In addition, a Freedom to Operate check has been carried out and a preliminary IPR protection strategy has been discussed. The key regulations and technical standards that TENBRIN should meet with has also been defined. A commercialization and dissemination strategy including target countries and key stakeholders to approach has been carried out and the financial objectives have been aligned with commercial forecasted achievements.
RI-LAVO has performed an estimation of total revenue, operating costs, payback and ROI until 2024 based on which the decision to continue with the development of TENBRIN proposal was made.
The high interest of the meat sector in our product has been confirmed by the high number of support letters that we received while preparing our phase 1 application. Key stakeholders such as the Consortium of Bovine Meat Quality in Italy and the Association of meat industries (ASINCAR) in Spain have expressed their interest to participate in the project as end users. The reduction in ageing time introduced by TENBRIN in the meat industry will lead to 60% production costs reduction increasing profit margins of fresh meat products by 4€/kg.
With this feasibility study we have re-evaluated our initial ideas/ objectives adapting a more customer-oriented approach that helped us make useful conclusions concerning our target end-users and our future actions towards the successful commercialization of TENBRIN. A further phase 2 will be targeted at the following critical activities:
- Optimizing the treatment chamber and the US source.
- Applying improvements on the optimized prototype that will be dictated after installation and testing at end user’s facility.
- Validating the final industrial prototype at full operational conditions to demonstrate system efficiency and minimum energy consumption.
- Preparing a solid commercialization plan and a dissemination strategy that will help us build a strong sales network in the target countries.