Monday, April 15, 2024

Seafood industry boosted by research into freeze/thaw process

Two Lincolnshire-based organisations have joined forces to identify a fresh and sustainable approach to the freeze/thaw process of seafood produce, which could transform the global seafood industry.

The University of Lincoln, UK, has partnered with New England Seafood International (NESI), through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Designed to link forward-thinking businesses with the expertise of academics, KTPs provide schemes to help organisations innovate and grow. This KTP project will research and develop a brand-new fish thawing process, combining ecological, environmental and sustainable business outputs.

The UK seafood industry relies on a large quantity of frozen and raw ingredients as part of the food manufacturing process. Currently, seafood thawing remains an under-researched area of the food chain, bringing many costly processes relating to timescales, cost efficiencies and retention of produce quality.

In addition to identifying new and sustainable practice in the seafood industry, the initiative will also aim to tackle the skills shortage gap. The project will be based at NESI’s North East Lincolnshire facility in Grimsby, and the team at NESI will have access to a team of the University’s industry experts at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM), who will assist on the project and impart their knowledge and expertise.

The KTP will use a blended approach across manufacturing and scientific disciplines, in which they will challenge established industry practise, advancing the understanding of the freeze/thaw process and creating opportunity for wider industry adoption.

Martin Davies, Group Operations Improvement Manager at NESI, said: “New England Seafood are delighted to have the opportunity to work alongside the University of Lincoln to improve one of the most complex and critical manufacturing process steps.

“The academic expertise the University will provide, combined with many years of seafood industry experience in New England Seafood, a recipe to optimise this process for the long-term in a balanced way, across people ergonomics, food hygiene, environmental, and operational efficiency factors.”

Janey Bellamy, Associate Professor in Food Robotics and Process Automation at NCFM, said: “This is a great opportunity to challenge established industry practices and to advance the understanding of the freeze/thaw process with clear and validated data. This work will have a positive transformational impact on the food supply chain across multiple sectors.”

The project is funded by Innovate UK and will last for 2 years.

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