Seafood CRC: value adding to the school prawn industry: Clarence River case study
SARDI Food Safety and Innovation
School prawns are the main volume catch for Clarence River Fishermen's Co-operative and nearly half of this yearly catch is supplied as fishermen’s bait and not for human consumption. The traditional bait market is being eroded by changes to the use of artificial bait so the fishery needs to investigate alternative markets and revenue streams for their school prawns. Because of their very small size, it is near impossible to produce a cost effective whole, value-added product. However, there is a technical opportunity to extract the green prawn meat from the whole prawn and potentially market this product as an ingredient/product solution for the restaurant and catering trade. The potential market opportunity of the extracted product was seen to be positive and worth investigating when tested as part of another Seafood CRC project, receiving a good response from the chefs/end users interviewed. To understand the extraction of school prawn meat, its uses and success within the market, the Clarence River Fishermen's Cooperative believe that this technology could add another avenue of value-add to the prawn industry, making a product that is available all year round without relying on seasonal changes. This project aims to provide a commercially viable income generation tool to the school prawn fishery.
1. To identify and pilot an economically feasible end-use/new market for extracted green school prawn meat
2. To increase profitability for the commercial school prawn fishery
School prawns (Metapenaeus macleayi) are marine and estuarine prawns found along the east coast of Australia, between southern Queensland and eastern Victoria. Given that school prawns are low to medium priced, there is significant opportunity to increase the margin for this species by value adding. Due to the small average size of school prawns, it is not possible to produce a peeled product with current technology, but there is an opportunity to extract prawn meat from whole prawns.
This project investigated the production of an extracted school prawn meat from green and cooked prawns. The prawns were processed in a Baader separator which squashed the soft tissue (prawn meat) into a perforated drum. The extracted products were collected, packaged and the shelf life assessed through sensory, microbiological and biochemical methods.