Briefly, Superfresh is a form of packaging in which salmon is placed on a CO₂ emitter consisting of baking powder and citric acid, among other things, and then packed in such a way that air is removed from the pack before it is sealed. This packaging method is called MAP, or Modified Atmosphere Packaging. With the Superfresh method, the salmon can stay fresh for up to 20 days at a constant low temperature, or 10-12 days at four degrees above zero.
The initial research was intended to find a packaging method specially designed for cod and salmon fillet, but the same method could also eventually be used for other types of fish and also for meat.
"After the pack is sealed, the cushion develops CO₂ gas and it also has absorbent properties. This CO2 emitter has been adapted for the product, so that it does not change the fish's pH value, and sensory tests have also shown that the fish often has a higher quality than with comparable packaging methods," says Marit Kvalvåg Pettersen, Senior Research Scientist at Nofima. She has been responsible for the research over the last few years.
As the first stage, the consumer packaging is now ready for the market, but transport packs will also be developed. In addition to extending shelf life, this packaging method also has considerable transportation advantages. The new method requires less volume and the product can be transported together with other food. A great deal of fish is still being transported in boxes with ice, which means more volume and also more weight, because of all the ice.
Superfresh is now in production and ready for the market. "We are very excited about how this will be received by the market. We envisage two main groups that could benefit from this packaging method for fresh food products. One is the industry that prepares and serves food - what we call the HORECA segment in our terminology. The other is the consumer market, where this CO₂ emitter can be used in a variety of packagings," says Jan Endre Vartdal, Director of Vartdal Plastindustrier.
Tailored to the size of the fish
There are several factors that make Superfresh a true innovation. Firstly, the packaging is suited to the type and size of the fish, so as to give the optimum quantity of CO2 gas. Secondly, the total packaging concept means that salmon, for example, can stay fresh for up to 20 days under ideal conditions, which means one degree above zero.
The newly developed CO₂ emitter can be used in various types of packaging. The Superfresh concept is presented in Brussels with an EPS box. EPS consists of 98% air and 2% polystyrene and is a material commonly used for fish boxes.
"The CO2 emitter costs a little more than ordinary absorbers, but means that the product keeps much better, so it will help to reduce food wastage," says Vartdal.
The research is financed by the Research Council of Norway, through several of its programmes including FORNY and MAT, as well as by Innovation Norway, Nofima, Vartdal Plast and two fish processors. The CO₂ emitter is produced by Cellcomb Foodpad in Sweden.
Vartdal Plastindustrier is launching the product to the industry at the European Seafood Exhibition, the world's biggest seafood fair, held in Brussels 23 – 25 April.
CO₂ emitter: The "cushion" at the bottom of packs of products such as fresh fish. The product keeps longer because CO₂ is developed after the pack has been sealed.