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Ice Chilling System for Enhanced Food Cooling

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ICECHILLING (Ice Chilling System for Enhanced Food Cooling)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-01-31

The problem that the IceChilling technology addresses has industrial, economic and social aspects and that is primarily due to insufficient cooling of poultry meat from slaughtering through the prodcution chain. Poultry production is the fastest growing meat sector in the world, with over 50 billion chickens produced, and growing >2% per year. People in the industrial world eat 80 kg of meat a year on average, thereof 25-40 kg of chickens. In the UK people get >45% of their protein from chickens and at the same time about 75% of all UK chickens are infected with Camphylobacter, causing about 280.000 food poisoning cases per year. In the last 25 years the average size of slaughtered chicken has gone from about 1 kg to 2.5 kg and a faster growth rate from 10 to 5 weeks. The increased size and higher output, along with more demand for fresh meat and better hygiene has put enormous economic and technical pressure on the poultry meat industry. Poultry meat processing industries are mainly regionally located and of very different size in terms of output. The chilling rooms are typically located in the middle of the slaughter/process facilities and composed of stacks of conveyer belts, chilled by cold air or cold water spray. Therefore it is very difficult and expensive to increase the chilling power by introducing longer belts and/or increase the cold air flow, in order to cope with the increased cooling demand. Therefore, since the IceChilling technology can be added to the current belts and does not require larger facilities, it would be a highly competitive solution with much savings for the meat processor. Based on these developed solutions, ThorIce has already made the first successful steps into the international markets and its goal is to be among the leading players in ice-slurry applications world-wide.

Our goal is to bring to market a novel chilling technology, that can be added on the current conveyer belts as they carry the slaughtered chickens through the cooling chambers currently in use. Air chilling is the current industry standard, typically aimed at getting the meat temperature from 40°C to <4°C in 2 hours.
Provided is the key content of the work done in a minimum of words and format for clarity. It is arranged according to description of work as planned in the work package of the proposal.

Business definition. The ThorIce group is a specialized manufacturer of high-quality ice-slurry generators with >300 units sold worldwide since 2006. The newly developed the IceGun system (patent pending) together with the ice-slurry generator and circulation tank, together makes a unit system that answers a pressing need in the poultry processing industry. The first ThorIce system was developed and now demonstrated effectively at Matfugl chicken meat processor in Iceland and further systems are now being installed and tested by customers in Slovenia and Hungary.
Competitive advantage. The key factors for a strong competitive position defined. Analysis of main competitors and why/how the ThorIce solution can slice into their markets; research and define what strategic alliances with key competitors and/or with other big players serving the target markets would best serve the company´s growth strategy.
Patent and freedom to operate analysis: In connection with two patent applications an exptensive patent and fredom to operate analysis was done and the conclusion is that although many past patents relate to our field, most are expired and most of the general background knowledge is no in public domain. Therefore there is no obvious problem or danger of not having freedom to operate. Also it was concluded that there is room for new patents and Ip protection for our inventions relating to better function of the IceGun and related technological improvements.
Regulatory issues: Regulatory issues concerning the use of ice-slurry which is made typically with 3-4% salt were specially investigated and based on the relevant regulations it was concluded that in none of the EU regulations and guidelines have we found any reference to any problems with using ice-slurry made with NaCl for the purose of chilling poultry. We have repeatedly measured many samples of chicken breast and determined the content of NaCl, water and protein. In no cases have we seen any significant difference in these values for chicken chilled with our method compared to those chilled with traditional air-chilling.
Research and development. A substantial amount of research and development work has been done to build a more scientific basis for our solution and technology, concomitantly with continuous improvements in design and finding/testing the best materials and components for the optimization of the performance and robustness of the IceGun®. The key work, results and conclusions are summarized.
Market analysis: An extensive market analysis will be done for different sectors to have a clear view of the markets with the lowest entry threshold (“the low hanging fruits”), the greatest possible profit margin and the largest current volumes as well as most promising future markets for long-term growth and profitability.
Demonstrations and market actions. By numerous contacts there is clearly a pressing need for our solution and many customers eager to work with us.
Market analysis. An extensive market analysis has been done and updated for the poultry sector. The current markets that have the greatest need have been mapped. The size of the poultry production customers differs from under 3.000 bph to 3.000-6.000 bph, 6.000-10.000 bph and over 10.000 bph. The current stop is at 13.000 bph which is a mechanical “ceiling” due to length of chains and the long time needed for the last 2-3°C extra chilling. Reaching over 13.000 bph is important for the factories striving to increase profitability in their production.
The conclusion of the action:
The project has been exceedingly useful, in particular did we benefit greatly from the experience and insight from our coach, Mr. Uffe Bundgaard-Jørgensen, who came to visit us in December but also came to Iceland and gave an open seminar that we took part in. In the report we summarize all the work done and conclusions, which are definite to continue on our path of full development and marketing on a global scale. We plan to pursue further financing by a mixture of grants, conditional sales and business angel and venture capital investments.
Logo and IceGun demonstration