Today’s global tuna industry is faced with multiple challenges, from the need to minimize environmental impact to the challenge of how to meet retailer and consumer demand with a limited stock of fish. Albert-Frans Brouwer, JBT’s Global Product Line Manager for Tuna, here examines the challenges the sector faces and explains what JBT is doing to help tuna processors overcome them.

If you look at the global tuna industry as it stands today, it is clear that it is a sector which faces multiple challenges. To maintain a healthy population of tuna in the world’s oceans the number of fish we can catch is limited and that’s not going to change. So if you want to be successful in the industry, the key focus has to be on improving the yield, turning as much of the catch into product that can be consumed by people. Next to this the tuna industry is increasingly focused on minimizing the environmental impact of processing.

Where can improvements be made? To do that we need to examine how tuna is processed from the fresh catch to eventually becoming the finished tuna product in a package, ready for consumption.

Along the way, there are a number of essential steps. After being caught, tuna typically comes frozen into port. The fish is pre-cooked, cleaned and cut into smaller pieces before going to a filler, which fills the pre-cooked tuna into cans. From there, the canned tuna goes to a filler-closer where oil or brine is accurately added on top of the tuna cake and the can is closed. In a final step the closed container is sterilized again after which the finished product is ready to go out to retailers.

Learn more about JBT’s Vacuum Pre-Cooker Cooler for Tuna

JBT has a full range of product solutions for all the key process steps that serve tuna processors around the world. In recent years we have been very successful in the marketing of our filler portfolio in the Mediterranean region, with the focus on improving the efficiency of our solutions.

The JBT Tuna Filler series, which is designed to automatically add pre-cooked tuna into open-topped cans at high speed, has recently been augmented by a model that can fill three, 3 oz cans simultaneously, surpassing the industry-standards.

Learn more about JBT’s Tuna Filler

On top of that, for many years JBT has developed software that optimizes pre-cooking and sterilization parameters during processing, making sure the production potential of each of these stages is maximized. We evaluate the type of fish that comes in to make sure customers receive the best possible product after the process is completed.

Our focus at JBT is on the product quality and the environmental impact because that is going to be key to the future of the business. In particular we want to take a closer look at the pre-cooking stages because that’s where we believe we can offer new solutions to substantially reduce water consumption and a more sophisticated determination of processing conditions. We are also looking at ways in which we can we can integrate processing innovations from similar industries, such as poultry or meat.

I think it’s safe to say that although big challenges exist for today’s tuna industry, processors can be confident JBT will be working side-by-side to help meet them.