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Marel's FleXicut takes off among North American whitefish processors

The sixth version of Marel's FleXicut was launched in the North American market in June.

Icelandic equipment manufacturer Marel delivered its sixth FleXicut processing machine in the North America market earlier this year. Since then, two machines have been sold to Canadian companies and the rest to US-based companies on both coasts.

The machines were all sold for whitefish processing, Magnus Olason, Marel's sales business manager, told IntraFish.

While salmon processing equipment has been a revenue leader for Seattle-based Marel's North America division, over the past three years, the company has also been making inroads to improve its whitefish processing capacities, he said.

The FleXicut, designed in 2014 to cut pin bones out of cod fillets, includes X-ray vision to locate the pin bones and cuts using water-jets and knives. The automation of bone removal raises productivity and greatly improves product handling and yield, according to Marel.

"There is a big drive in getting more throughput per person in the factory," he said. "People are expensive. Cutting down on labor is important."

Marel is working to adapt the FleXicut to several other species, seeing increasing interest among companies that are struggling to replace processing specialists, the company said.

"Finding specialists is getting harder, which is why machinery is now replacing skilled labor," he said.

Another aspect that is making machine processing more popular in North America, according to Magnuson, is its ability to specialize in premium cuts, which is becoming more important for the whitefish market.

"Every year, they’re filleting more and more, and increasing the value of cuts," he said of North American producers Marel works with.

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