Staff numbers and equipment boosted for fresh production
HB Grandi expects to see its production of fresh fish increase significantly at both its Reykjavík and Akranes locations as the new quota year gathers pace. This is due to increased quotas for cod, saithe and redfish, as well as a decision to reduce the number of freezer trawlers and to instead place the emphasis on operating fresher vessels.
To cope with the anticipated increase in fresh production, the Reykjavík and Akranes production plants have taken delivery of sophisticated new processing systems as well as which new staff have been taken on. Sixty new jobs have been created, of which 35 are in Reykjavík and 25 at Akranes.
In recent years HB Grandi has operated five factory freezer trawlers and three fresher trawlers, but earlier this year the company decided to take two freezers out of service and add one fresher. Venus HF has been laid up, while freezer trawler Helga María AK was steamed to Poland for a refit, and is due to return in November fully fitted out to fish as a fresher trawler.
The factory at Nordurgardur in Reykjavík has for the last year been using a new X-ray portioning and bone removal machine for redfish, developed by Valka, and this has been a very positive process. X-ray and 3D imaging technology are used to identity and position bones in redfish fillets, and a water jet cutter is used to slice the backbone out. In addition, the system allows filets to be portioned into pre-set sizes. Experience has shown that this provides a more precise cut and better yields, as well as increasing production rates. Boneless fillets command significantly better product prices than fillets with bones.
A sophisticated new Marel packing and grading station for fresh portion production has been installed at the Nordurgardur factory, and this is initially being used for precision grading and packing of fresh saithe portions
X-ray bone removal and portioning line for cod
Like the Reykjavík factory, HB Grandi’s Akranes factory is aiming a to see a significant increase in its fresh production and on the 6th of August it took delivery of a new X-ray managed bone removal and portioning machine from Valka, with the contract for this signed at the Brussels European Seafood Exposition earlier this year. This equipment makes it possible to identify and position bones for removal with a great deal of precision, as well as allowing fillets to be sectioned into portions. Although the new production line has only been in use for a month, according to Akranes factory manager Thröstur Reynisson, it has already proved its worth.
‘We had set aside August to learn how to get the settings right. Production is going well and we’re close to what we set out to achieve,’ he said, commenting that the new line can be used to process all of the cod that HB Grandi has at its disposal this year. The speed of production has increased and yields have been improved, while long-term aims are to boost yields even further and to concentrate more on higher-value production.
Fresh production from HB Grandi’s Akranes factory is shipped six times a week to Europe by air.