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WASEABI aims to optimize utilization of aquatic resources


Over a 4-year period, Royal Greenland will be part of an interdisciplinary team of 13 partners with the goal to optimize the utilization of seafood side-streams by developing new methods for the production of nutritional ingredients.

The WASEABI research project was launched in May 2019 and is spearheaded by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark in collaboration with a consortium of 13 partners. The shared goal is to optimize the utilization of side streams from aquaculture, fisheries and the fishing industry by developing new methods for producing ingredients for the food industry.

Big potential for better utilization

With an annual turnover of nearly €28 billion and more than 122.000 employees, the seafood processing industry is significant in Europe. The industry is increasingly focusing on the opportunities  within side-streams. It is estimated that from a production of 5,1 million tons of fish caught, about 1,5 million tons consist of side-streams.  Up to 70% of the aquatic resources end up as side-streams, which are either used for low-value purposes such as animal feed or simply disposed of as waste.

WASEABI is a contraction of the words 'Waste', 'Seafood side-streams' and 'Bio economy'

An example of an activity in the WASEABI research project is in Royal Greenland’s Nutaaq® production in Maniitsoq, Greenland, where high-quality Atlantic cod is processed and frozen within 2 hours after leaving the water. The short process makes for an ideal case in the WASEABI project, as the side-streams are still fresh after processing. By-products such as heads, frames, off cuts and guts are collected as part of the WASEABI project to research the potential for utilizing these products commercially.

The factory line in Maniitsoq, where our Nutaaq® cod is produced

“We are very excited about the start of the WASEABI project and have very high expectations as to what we can accomplish”, says Charlotte Jacobsen, project coordinator and Head of the Research Group for Bioactives – Analysis and Application at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark. ”With this project, we want to help the industry exploit their raw materials much better and in a more sustainable manner. We need to find ways to make the most of the resources that are available so that ultimately we are able to produce more food for the world’s growing population ”, Charlotte adds.

The research programme is well aligned with other initiatives initiated by Royal Greenland regarding the Nutaaq cod, as production of cod liver oil from a unit in Maniitsoq was initiated last year. The oil from this production is approved for both human nutrition and for use in animal feed. Royal Greenland’s new m/Tr Sisimiut will also offer significant improvements on discards and waste. The new Sisimiut will be able to utilize the fish 100%, as the vessel is equipped with an on board fishmeal and fish oil factory to process cod and other whitefish.

Identifying obstacles and offering value-adding solutions

WASEABI aims at achieving a valuable utilization of the biomass by developing storage solutions, sorting technologies and decision tools, which will secure a more efficient and sustainable supply system for by-catch and side-streams. By addressing side-streams from six different raw materials representing typical aquaculture, fisheries and aquatic processing industries in Europe, WASEABI takes on a whole value chain perspective in order to succeed with high quality production of for instance protein-based ingredients for food, aromatic ingredients or mineral supplements for food or animal feed. To transform these products into marketable products, WASEABI will also conduct an evaluation of the commercial potential of the produced ingredients from the side-streams as well as quantify any environmental, economic and social impacts.

WASEABI expects to deliver significant results after the 4-year period, where they - among other goals - aim to have:

  • Identified at least two bottlenecks per type of side-stream
  • Developed successful sorting for solid herring filleting into at least three separate fractions with at least three new storage methodologies for seafood side-streams
  • Developed decision tools, tested by at least two of the participating companies
  • Guidelines developed and tested by at least two companies
  • Three high-quality side-streams made available to bio based industries
  • Produced at least six marketable food ingredients from side-streams
  • Developed at least 4 side-stream processing concepts

Runs until May 2023

WASEABI was kicked off with a partner meeting in Copenhagen back in May and is expected to finish in May 2023. The project has a total budget of just over €4 million, whereof €3,1 million is funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The WASEABI consortium is an interdisciplinary team consisting of 13 partners from five European countries. The partners include three research institutes/universities, 1 industry cluster and nine companies from Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France & Spain, respectively.

Read more about the WASEABI project here


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