The defrosting of frozen raw materials is an everyday routine in fish processing companies. Although it is a highly sensitive process which has an influence on raw material yield and product quality it is rarely paid the attention it deserves. In other words, there are some reserves here, particularly since the defrosting process often proves to be a “technological bottleneck” within operational production procedures.

Deepchill, the trademarked name for a product developed by the Canadian company Sunwell Technologies, is a cooling and preservation medium comprised of millions of ice micro-crystals suspended in a liquid solution to form an ice slurry. The micro-crystals surround the entire surface area of the product being cooled, giving it the ability to chill at least three times faster, and store a few degrees colder for a longer period than conventional ice. The slurry also suspends and protects the product from bruising, bacterial growth and tissue degradation.

Whether it’s herring from the North Atlantic, shrimps from Asian farms, or hake from the southernmost point of Africa, a lot of seafood products are traded frozen. Before they can be further processed they have to be thawed. In industry, special defrosters are used to do this. They are based on different technologies and for this reason alone there is no “ideal” technique that fulfils all requirements.

A manufacturer of autoclaves for the food and pharmaceutical industries Steriflow SAS is a 35-year old company whose equipment is used around the world. In 2005 Steriflow SAS licensed the Shaka technology which was invented in the UK. Using this technique the product is vigorously shaken while in the autoclave. The frequency of the shaking is 100-150 cycles per minute and this movement increased the penetration of heat into the product thereby allowing a reduction in the cycle time compared to regular autoclaves. The equipment can be used with any kind of container including cans, glass jars, pouches, and plastic trays.

3X Technology manufactures a range of processing solutions for the white fish, salmon, shrimp, and pelagic fish sectors. Founded in 1994 the company has developed from supplying the local processing industry on Iceland to selling its equipment on the international market, earning it awards for its export performance.

In the late 80s a number of processing lines made by the Swedish firm VMK and the German Baader were installed on Russian vessels. This was followed by a pause where few Russian vessels were overhauled. Now however, according to Ulf Groenqvist of Seac AB, there seems to be a small boom in the number of Russian and Ukrainian factory vessels that are being refurbished. These boats are being upgraded with either new or completely renovated processing machinery.

Fish and seafood are today transported around the globe by road, sea and air. Whilst transporting durable products such as canned or salted foods is relatively easy, fresh and frozen products make considerably more demands on the carrier. It’s live fish that present the really big challenge, however. Their transport is expensive and difficult, but to make up it enables top freshness and quality.

In 1976 the independent sales representative Rudolf Maass founded in co-operation with Adolf Cavier the company Rudolf Maass + Partner KG in Hamburg. His vision was the development and production of a salmon slicer for industrial use. This was the genesis of the Maass Salmon Slicer CM 176. Through constant, intensive co-operation between producer and customers, the company’s range of slicers grew rapidly.

“Fish slaughter” can be understood in different ways: It generally comprises preparatory measures for the slaughter process, then the stunning and actual killing of the fishes, as well as gutting. In the past the focus was primarily on efficiency and profitability. Today, efforts are also made to avoid unnecessary stress for the fishes. This applies both to manual and machine slaughter processes.

The market for plate freezers has always been fiercely competitive. Over the last years, however, with the entry on to the market of Asian companies that can produce equipment at lower costs than their European counterparts, the focus has moved to innovation, reliability, and customer service.

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