Fish is one of Marel's three key protein industries. Marel is a leading global supplier in the sector, providing both advanced standalone equipment and integrated systems for all stages of the fish processing value chain. Our systems range from single scales to integrated production lines and turnkey systems, both onboard and ashore. Marel Fish contributed EUR 159 million in revenues in 2018, or 13% of total revenues, translating to an EBIT of 7.9%. The business has been transformed in recent years, as investments in innovation and enhanced levels of standardization have increased orders and improved margins.
Aquaculture has been the fastest growing food production segment in the last decade, and Marel Fish has a strong foothold in the sector, especially in the salmon industry. We have also worked for many of the world’s largest processors of tilapia, sea bream, and sea bass. Our efforts to extend our market penetration in this sector has strengthened our position as a leading provider of processing solutions for the farmed fish sector.
Marel was an active participant at global seafood conferences throughout 2018 in order to share its expertise in processing advances, as well as to nurture its close partnership with companies throughout the seafood industry.
Marel participated in the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Norway, the Global Fishery Forum and Seafood Expo in Russia, and the China Salmon Summit, to name just a few. Gatherings such as these offer the chance to share processing knowledge and expertise with researchers, academics, investors, and influential organizations, both national and international.
Marel’s new automatic MS2720 Deheading Machine for salmon was released for sale in January 2018. The new machine offers some of the highest levels of throughput, yield and quality ever achieved for this process. It allows salmon processors to achieve optimum yield from every fish, as well as enabling a better flow by performing high-precision cutting and allowing for the automatic transfer of deheaded fish into our MS2730 Filleting Machine. Besides boosting productivity, the deheader is easy to operate, with all settings and operations made on a touchscreen panel next to the operator platform at the machine’s infeed.
Marel has sold more than 35 FleXicut machines since the revolutionary pinboner and portioner was introduced in 2014, including several FleXicut Marine machines for onboard processing of boneless fillets. The automation of bone removal and portioning with FleXicut enables processors to raise productivity while greatly improving product handling and yield.
As the second generation of FleXicut emerges, greater levels of interconnectivity and new features are improving processing results further, while the reliability of existing systems is fueling the growing interest in FleXicut across the industry.
The pinboning and portioning system now also offers an integrated pre-trim solution and advanced product distribution system that automate this process even further.
The FleXicut pinboning and portioning system is a perfect example of how Marel transfers technology between processes and industries. Its technology is the result of innovation and development of X-ray technology that started with the SensorX in 2004 – a machine that is now the quality assurance standard in the poultry industry – and image processing and computer applications that Marel started using in its intelligent portioning machines in the 1990s.
This technological transfer continued with FleXicut in 2017. Initially developed for whitefish, the equipment underwent extensive testing in 2017 for salmon applications, and the successful results were demonstrated at the 2018 Salmon ShowHow in February.
The fish industry as a whole is increasingly recognizing that traceability is essential to ensuring food safety. The ability to demonstrate reliable data collection and a valid traceability system from source to shelf is essential to gaining and maintaining a competitive edge, as well as accessing new markets.
As the leading provider of automated data collection solutions to the food processing industry, Marel continues to take a very active role in realizing the vision of data-driven food safety in the fish industry. Our Innova Food Processing Software can provide relevant data to both sides of the supply chain, and guarantee that products meet the highest food safety standards.
In 2018, we demonstrated the QC scanner (not yet released for sale) for the first time, a solution to automate the quality control process. The scanner color grades fillets, and automatically detects surface defects such as pearl stripes and melanin or blood spots after filleting and skinning. With this information, the scanner can determine if fillets need further manual trimming or can skip that step. With automated quality control, processors can both speed up production and raise value and quality.
Shanghai Hi-Chain Foods’ salmon processing facility completed its first full year of operation in 2018, utilizing a new Marel processing line that was installed in 2017 - China’s first automatic processing line for salmon.
In recent years, Chinese salmon processors have increasingly looked to technologically advanced processing equipment to improve performance and food safety, raise yields, and reduce costs. The installation marked a shift in the nature of many of the jobs at the factory, and Marel’s service engineer were in close contact with Hi-Chain from the start to ensure successful installation of the plant.
The plant produces up to 30 metric tons of salmon products every day, and the Marel installation is vital to ensuring filleting, trimming, pinbone removal, skinning, portioning and slicing is carried out effectively and in a timely manner.
Leroy Seafood Group’s new plant in Norway became one of the most advanced salmon processing plants in the world when it began operating in 2018. The facility is equipped with high-tech salmon processing systems from Marel that are setting new industry benchmarks.
Marel supplied solutions for pre-rigor filleting lines, including new deheading machines that transfer fish to five parallel filleting lines, as well as whole fresh salmon packing and logistics solution for the plant.
The salmon is brought directly into the factory early each morning, and leaves the factory packed as fillets or whole fish later the same day. By filleting so close to source, Leroy saves on freight costs, raises the quality of the end product, and reduces the carbon footprint of the salmon that ends up on our plates.
In 2018, Icelandic fish processor G.Run installed two FleXicut pinboning and portioning machines, a FleXitrim flowline and two packing lines. The installation was part of a major expansion of the company's facilities in Grundarfjordur, Iceland, which includes a new 2000m2 building.
The FleXicut systems enable G.Run to increase the primary product ration, which is extremely valuable to them. The upgrade also helps the processor meet its goals of significantly raising throughput without adding more staff. The project marks the first time the FleXicut has been used for processing redfish. With two FleXicut lines running, one can be used for redfish and the other for cod and similar species.
Marel's Innova Food Processing Software is a vital element of the installation. The software supports the complete integrated system and compliance with quality standards and food safety regulations, as well as improving utilization of the raw material.