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Tuna Market’s Strength Lies In Nutrition, Innovation

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 U.S. 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 said.

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, cooking methods and expand product offerings. Now, packaging innovations aimed at convenience, flavor optimization and consumer preferences are being introduced to broaden the canned fish sector, including shelf-stable plastic cups and no-drain cans.

Variation welcome
In addition to varying packaging methods for tuna, there are multiple ways to process tuna, depending on the species and whether the product will be cut solid (portion of the loin cut to fit the can) or in chunks, and packed in oil, brine or water.

JBT FoodTech specializes in all steps of the tuna processing — precooking, 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, increase product quality, and to test and implement innovative packaging methods.
The 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.

Through the line process, Tuna CAL computerized control systems calculate with mathematical modeling software the tuna precooking 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.

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 fast and uniform temperature increase. Water Sprays running over the entire shell length intensely mix steam and air and create a homogeneous temperature distribution. Customized trays are designed to fit the needs of the processor, whether working with pouches, glass 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 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 continuous innovation, and 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.