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FoodTech Report

Volume 7 Issue 2

Tuna market’s strength lies in nutrition, innovation

By Dino Bertani, tuna product line manager, JBT FoodTech

tuna
High in omega-3 fatty acids, low in carbohydrates and packed with vitamins and minerals, canned tuna is a healthy and economical protein option for many consumers. In the United States alone, Americans eat about 1 billion pounds of canned and pouched tuna a year, according to the Tuna Council, an organization that represents U.S. tuna processors. Only coffee and sugar exceed canned tuna in sales per foot of shelf space in the grocery store, the council reported.

Integrated solutions

Over the years, tuna companies have developed new products beyond the basic oil or brine-packed can through innovative variations from seasoned filets to snack packs. To meet consumers’ constant demand for new products, canned fish processors have utilized JBT FoodTech’s fully automated tuna processing line to perfect new recipes and cooking methods and to expand product offerings. Now, packaging innovations, such as shelf-stable plastic cups and no-drain cans, aimed at convenience, flavor optimization and consumer preferences are being introduced to broaden the canned fish sector.

JBT FoodTech specializes in all steps of tuna processing — pre-cooking, cooling, cleaning, filling, brining/oiling, closing and sterilizing. Tuna processors can work side by side with specialists at JBT FoodTech Food Technology Centers to optimize processing lines, to increase product quality and to test and implement innovative packaging methods.

A turnkey tuna processing line ensures high-quality finished products packed in various-shaped containers, such as cans, glass jars and pouches. Flexibility and accuracy in the fully automated line help processors expand tuna product offerings cost-effectively, because the equipment can adjust for variety in size, shape and species of tuna.

Variation welcome

In addition to varying packaging methods for tuna, there are also multiple ways to pre-cook and sterilize the processed tuna, depending on the species, whether the product will be cut solid or in chunks, and if it will be packed in oil, brine or water.

Throughout the line process, TunaCAL computerized control systems calculate with mathematical modeling software the tuna pre-cooking and thawing parameters to optimize the process for maximum yield, quality and efficiency. The software automatically sets the ideal temperature and cooking time for every batch, based on a database of cooking profiles for every conceivable species of tuna. This is then monitored and controlled in real time.

The JBT FoodTech Tuna Pre-Cooker can accommodate different species and cuts of tuna and has a capacity of between 6 and 9.2 tons.

JBT FoodTech’s Tuna Pre-Cooker is designed to cook tuna fish under steam vacuum pressure and cool it under vacuum pressure. Its capacity ranges from 6 to 9.2 tons, depending on the fish species, variety, size and cut. Vacuum pressure technology prevents oxidation, while the steam cooking process prevents the proliferation of bacteria and scorching. The overall product has greater nutritional value, more compact muscle tissue, and better moisture and uniformity.

The Steam Water Spray (SWS) Static Retort sterilizes canned tuna at the end of the line. Steam is directly injected in the bottom of the retort for a fast and uniform temperature increase. Water sprays running over the entire shell length intensely mix steam and air to create a homogeneous temperature distribution. Customized trays are designed to fit the needs of the processor, whether working with pouches, glass jars or cans.

In addition to automatically accommodating for variety, the production speed and capacity of the tuna line offer processors reliability and efficiency.

High-speed production

Tuna

The automated tuna processing line from JBT FoodTech increases tuna processing efficiency and offers the flexibility required to introduce new product recipes and packaging.

Tuna fillers that focus on high production speed, reduced product loss, increased packing liquid absorption and fill weight accuracy aid processors in running production at optimal speeds with higher yields.

In the last few years, JBT FoodTech updated its Model 3266 tuna filler to fill two cans at the same time, increasing its output capability to 300 units per minute. The filler can fill cans in round, oval and club formats while maintaining consistent fill weight accuracy. And recently launched was the Model 3366 tuna filler, which comes in a chamberless version and was specifically developed for tuna in brine.

As consumers continue to enjoy the product varieties and health benefits of tuna, the industry focuses on innovation. JBT FoodTech specialists are focused on continuous improvement, so when the next recipe renovation, package design or processing technique is introduced to the marketplace, equipment is available to accommodate line changes and keep production up, running and profitable.

To learn more about tuna processing, visit the JBT FoodTech Web site.

Steam Water Sprayis a trademark of JBT Corporation.

©2009 JBT Corporation. All rights reserved.

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