2010/775 New product development for low value, high volume species - WA Sardines
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2010/775 New product development for low value, high volume species - WA Sardines


By Janet Howieson



Sardines have traditionally been an undervalued species in Western Australia (WA), with the majority of product used as angler bait and tuna aquaculture feed. However the species has considerable value-adding potential, both due to the high omega 3 fatty acid content and to the sustainable and high volume nature of the fishery. Consumer surveys have indicated that the key factor affecting consumer acceptability of sardines are related to product perceptions (e.g. used predominantly as cat food and bait, bones and the strong fishy flavour). However focus group discussions have demonstrated that value added sardine products could be developed with strong consumer acceptability.



This project applied value chain analysis to define new market opportunities for WA sardines. New opportunities for WA sardine products were identified in a market analysis report and also after interviews with chefs. The chef interviews also emphasised the importance of working with wholesalers when launching new products on the markets and also that supply of product information around fishing methods and regions, seasonality, sustainability and best practice handling would be favourably received. Chefs also indicated that consumer education would be helpful in changing the perception of the product. The results from the chef surveys were also used to inform the optimal size, packaging, form and weight of the product(s) to be developed.



Shelf-life assessed microbiologically and by sensory analyses was up to 5 days for whole and headed and gutted vacuum packed product, and up to 10 days for vacuum packed fillets. The shelf-life and sensory analyses were repeated and a new supply chain based on IQF freezing of the product soon after harvest, transport to Perth, thawing and automated filleting then refreezing of the fillets was optimised. The products developed were frozen raw and crumbed sardine fillets and frozen whole sardines.



The launch of the products into the food service market was successful. The crumbed sardines have proved to be more popular than the plain sardines with nearly double the volume sold. The trial also demonstrated the need for producers to work closely with sales people to ensure their product is indeed part of the pitch.