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Seafood science for a changing demand


"Seafood science for a changing demand”

was the focus of the WEFTA 2014’s international meeting

The 44th international meeting of the West European Fish Technologists Association, WEFTA 2014, was hosted by AZTI-Tecnalia from the 9th till the 11th June in Bilbao.

Any company that forgets to tackle the changes that the market is facing is doomed to fail. Adapting to the changes through the scientific knowledge, the innovation and the technology development will be the only way to achieve this. Therefore, the 44th international meeting of the West European Fish Technologists Association, WEFTA 2014, which was held this year in Bilbao was focus on "SEAFOOD science for a changing demand”.

The event was focused in the R+D+i oriented to global societal needs, looking for innovative solutions to meet the new demands. Global Seafood Markets in 2030 are expected to be characterized by:

  • The demand for seafood is expected to increase strongly, as is product innovation, mainly due to an increase in the world population requesting for high quality animal protein

  • The value of attributes and information are increasingly important.

  • The presence of aquaculture products continues its growth. The innovations in this sector are leading to rapid technological progress making aquaculture products more competitive.

  • There are some data suggesting that seafood prices will rise by up to 70% between now and 2050 due to shortage of supply and wage growth.

The WEFTA 2014′s program "SEAFOOD Science for a changing demand” was covered through six scientific sessions: Safety evaluation and emerging risks; Seafood quality reassurance; Integrity, authenticity and differentiation of products; Sustainable use of catches and farming; Advances in seafood processing technology and smart control; Product innovation, consumer acceptance and expectations.

The program this year included key lectures coming from academia and from the industry, and as a novelty, the program of the meeting did offer a special session with specific presentations coming from the industry. It was attended by 125 delegates coming from 18 countries, 21% from the industry, and more than 100 contributions were received.

The first key lecture on "Health benefits and risks of seafood: simply fatty acids and mercury?” was presented by the 2013 WEFTA winner, Dr. Maria Leonor Nunes, scientific coordinator of the Division of Aquaculture and Seafood Quality and Upgrading at IPMA, the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere.

Session 1 on Seafood quality reassurance covered important achievements regarding seafood quality and innovative reliable methodologies for its measurement. Some of the strategies proposed represent new ways to improve quality of seafood and to be aware about effects (intrinsic or extrinsic) that can compromise seafood quality. The presentations covered the following themes:

  1. New methods for seafood quality evaluation, including the quantification of fish partial voltaic basic nitrogen by SPME-GC-MS, a novel method (no-destructive) also for volatiles amines determination, a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) tool for identification of quality changes on marine raw materials, and the potential of Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy for histamine detection in fish.

  2. Quality evaluation strategies for different species such as iced sea bream, scallops, Norway lobster, Atlantic horse mackerel, cod and salmon.

  3. Fish oil and nutrition, specially the role of lipid bioactive oxygenated mediators.

  4. New tools for spoilage control in seafood based on the use of bacteriophages, as viable alternative to chemical antimicrobials against food pathogens and as food preservers.

Session 2 on Safety evaluation and emerging risks included five presentations, three of them dealing with the state of the art on the evaluation of marine chemical and biological contamination and a fast approach for the detection of allergen parasites. A final talk covered the benefits and risks of aquaculture products.

The second day begun with two interesting key note lectures coming from the industry: "The Power of Branding – Bringing New Consumers to Fish”, that was presented by Charles Boardman, Business Manager at Icelandic Seachill and responsible for the overseas expansion of The Saucy Fish Co., the UKs leading seafood brand. The second industrial key lecture on "Key hot prepacked fish categories in the chilled and frozen EU Retail Shelves" was given by Gonzalo Campos, who works transforming fish commodities in value-added product categories in Sealed Air, the company that is helping the development of the fish packaging sector in Europe.

During session 3 on Advances in seafood processing technology and Smart control we had the opportunity to learn about different advances in fish processing, including the different effects and possible uses of natural extracts for storage of mince fish, and the effectiveness of modified atmosphere packaging and active technologies on the quality preservation and shelf life extension of different fish and shellfish species. We learnt about the importance of the bleeding process on overall quality, and the improvement observed when ice slurry was used during the bleeding process. Another presentation explained how the denaturation occurs in fish muscle during thermal treatment, thus providing the necessary information for the optimization of these values for different species.

The utility of hydrostatic high pressure technology was showed for reducing spore contamination in fish products and for elaborating new products. Novel freezing technologies for freezing Albacore tuna were discussed. And the use of Process Analytical Technology (PAT) approach for the discrimination (based on Near Infrared spectroscopy signals) between fresh and defrozen hake was explained.

In session 4 on Product innovation, consumer acceptance and expectations, there were several presentations with interesting conclusions related to consumers’ perception and knowledge about different seafood aspects and products. Some of the conclusions showed that benefit perception seems more important than risk perception, and that fish quality is the main driver that influences buying behavior in European consumers. Several innovations were discussed, from the use of natural extracts for melanosis treatment in shrimps, to the design of seafood products for enhancing their beneficial effects on health, and the optimization of heat treatments for creating better products.

The third day began with a presentation on "Seafood innovation in Spain: a need, not an option” by Javier Arán, the R+D Manager of Isidro de la Cal, a company devoted to the development of seafood value added products. His lecture made it very clear that innovations of the seafood products is an ongoing process and that staying at status quo, is not an option for seafood industry.

The contributions in session 5 on Integrity, authenticity and differentiation of products covered subjects from seafood fraud or misinformation on the labels (some results showed up to 30% mislabeling), to different genetic techniques for differentiation of products. Results applying novel methodologies for authentication of different tuna species in the processing industry were very promising.

Session 6 on Sustainable use of catches and farming had its main focus on the new EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and specifically on the near future of the discard ban or landing obligation. Some presentations mentioned that, when the landing obligation is in function, the focus will be on how to control the obligation, for example by the use of different on board observation techniques (e.g. CCTV camera technology) in combination with automatic sorting of the catch. Different studies have made estimations on the amount of new raw-material that will be part of the seafood value chain, and the prediction is that an important part will end as fish meal/fish oil or fish feed, mainly for aquaculture. Results from the southern part of the Bay of Biscay showed that there are different alternatives for the new raw-material, either as feed or pulp for surimi production. In addition, the number of products that this new raw-material can be used for goes from new products for human consumption to active biomolecules.

For completing the oral sessions, 55 posters were exhibited during the conference showing different studies regarding the advances done in the different areas.

WEFTA 2014 conclusions