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Technical feasibility study for pirarucu (Arapaima gigas) canning

Grant number: 17/08276-6
Support type:Research Grants - Innovative Research in Small Business - PIPE
Duration: February 01, 2018 - December 31, 2018
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Food Science and Technology
Principal Investigator:Rodrigo Ribeiro
Grantee:Rodrigo Ribeiro
Company:Rodrigo Ribeiro - ME
CNAE: Pesquisa e desenvolvimento experimental em ciências físicas e naturais
City: São Paulo
Co-Principal Investigators:Alfredo de Almeida Vitali
Assoc. researchers: Camila Joana Fernandes Nascimento ; Jadel Müller Kratz
Associated scholarship(s):18/07521-0 - Technical feasibility study for Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas) canning, BP.PIPE

Abstract

ABSTRACT High-quality canned fish produced with premium raw materials and regional recipes are a trend and represent a great market, especially in European countries. Strong brands are well-known and share common traits, such as the awareness of the importance of superior quality and the insertion of their products into a gastronomic culture that values the entire productive chain. This economic activity boost income and labor from the fishermen to the specialized stores (which have become touristic destinations themselves). From the product point of view, the robust and hermetically sealed package allows for long shelf life, even without refrigeration. Nonetheless, in Brazil, canned fish are seen as inferior quality food. Only traditional products, such as tuna and sardines, are normally consumed. They are prepared mainly in classical recipes that do not add exceptional culinary value. Moreover, neither the biodiversity of the regional fishes nor the management potential of these species are being considered. The world's fishing industry is now facing a lot of pressure from new and stringent environmental laws and/or from the deterioration of maritime stocks after decades of overfishing. Rising raw material and storage costs affect profit margins and threaten the future of the activity. Therefore, sustainable alternatives with low environmental impact, that at the same time add value to the products, are highly desirable. The Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas) is an Amazonian fish with firm, low-fat, and rosy flesh that resists well high temperatures treatments. It has been successfully reproduced in captivity and managed in wild ponds in a sustainable way in the northern region of the country. Looking for solutions for the future, Cura Conservas proposes in this project to do research and development of a prototype that could underpin the feasibility of canning Pirarucu and scaling up the thermal process. This project aims at understanding the uncertainties around the physicochemical, sensorial, and microbiological properties of Pirarucu, and ultimately define whether the fish is suitable for processing. To this end, a prototype autoclave will be built simulating an industrial equipment of cans sterilization. The processes of brining and steaming will also be explored and mapped through the application of experimental design. With the obtained experimental data, it will be possible to determine the schedule process for the Pirarucu fillet, to comprehend its behavior at high temperatures, the sensorial result, how to conduct corrections in the process, and most important: to predict its behavior with other liquids typically used in regional recipes and in the high-quality canning industry. The economic impact that the industrialization of this iconic fish may have on local economies and riverine communities is highly significant. In the same proportion, the impact on the conservation of the species could be beneficial, helping in the recovery of this endangered variety and completing the virtuous cycle of sustainable use of a natural resource. In summary, apart from serving as a business model with a positive socio-environmental impact, Cura Conservas could promote a new way of using Brazilian noble raw materials and generate alternatives for the domestic canned segment. (AU)