A Flinders University researcher is working on a scheme that could not only cut production costs for seafood processing companies but also improve their bottom line – and companies are taking note.
PhD candidate Mr Shan He (pictured) from the Flinders Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development (CMBD) is investigating how the unused components in seafood processing leftovers, such as proteins and oils, can be used in other food ingredients.
“Research has been conducted before to determine the potential reuse of fish waste but my research focuses specifically on how we can recover these residual products in the most cost effective way and make them functional so that they can help improve human health,” Mr He said.
As part of his research project, Mr He will be producing a fish protein hydrolysate – comprised of minced fish off-cuts – that could be used as a food additive to ultimately lower the cost of seafood processing, increase production yield and enhance commercial benefit for the seafood industry.
“This type of protein could be used for its oil capacity to improve the texture of products such as fish fingers,” he said.
“But it could also be used to boost the consumer value of a product so, for example, instead of purchasing a fish cake weighing 100 grams you could add five grams of the fish protein hydrolysate to produce a more generous and healthy product.”
After the fish protein has undergone more food quality development, Mr He hopes the product will eventually become available on the supermarket shelf.
Mr He and CMBD Manager Mr Raymond Tham presented some of the benefits of fish protein hydrolysates to a group of more than 25 commercial fishers and seafood wholesalers, including representatives from the prawn, finfish and mussels processing industries, in Port Lincoln last week.
Mr Tham said there was a compelling business case for the reuse of seafood waste.
“It is estimated that the average seafood processor can reduce operating costs by up to 15 per cent, as well create products that have higher value to generate new revenue and profits,” Mr Tham said.
“Seafood co-products have the potential to not only improve the shelf life, taste and texture of processed foods, but also to make them healthier. For example, we know that foods fried using these special functional ingredients can have up to 80 per cent less fat than regular fried food,” he said.
Mr Tham added that extracts from seafood co-products also have a wide application in the nutraceuticals and cosmetics industries and this can “create more value for Australia’s industry in the future”