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A Pilot Study for Improving Energy Efficiency in the Seafood Sector

The Issue

It takes energy to process, package and deliver seafood to American consumers. As with other sectors of the economy, the seafood industry would like to become more energy efficient to lower production costs and to market its products as more “green.” Actually implementing conservation strategies, however, can be difficult because it is not always obvious where energy-saving opportunities exist. A simple first step in reducing a company’s energy consumption is to identify its most energy-intensive processes or activities.

What Has ANR Done?

Pamela Tom, manager of the California Sea Grant Seafood Technology Program at UC Davis, and Glen Lewis, energy advisor to the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research at UC Davis, installed an electricity meter at the Pacific Fresh Seafood processing plant in Sacramento. The meter continuously recorded the plant’s electricity consumption for 10 months and relayed the information to a user-friendly computer program. The two analyzed the data with company staff.

The Payoff

Reducing Energy Can Yield Savings

A surge in electricity usage was observed at night, when trucks made their deliveries to the plant. In the offloading process, trucks must back up into receiving docks that connect to a huge chilled storage area. Keeping seafood cold is key to protecting its quality; however, the metering data showed that the dock doors were probably being left open more than needed.

By being more careful to keep doors closed between deliveries, the group estimated that the company might be able to reduce its energy consumption 5 percent to 10 percent annually, translating into an annual savings of about $20,000. In addition, the plant can now track and report its carbon dioxide emissions.

Tom and Lewis introduced the concept of “green” energy management to seafood professionals at a recent Pacific Fisheries Technologists meeting. Since then, others have requested similar projects be conducted at their businesses.

Clientele Testimonial

“Energy efficiency is an important subject for industry,” says John Lin, general manager for quality control and technical support at the Pacific Seafood Group in Portland, Ore., the parent company of Pacific Fresh Sea Food. “We will continue to focus on this area. The project is a good starting point for us.”

“With little, if any, financial investment, the food industry can evaluate the value of green energy management,” says Kenny Lum, president of the Seafood Products Association in Seattle, Wash. “We stand to benefit from a cost-production standpoint and from a marketing one.”


Supporting Unit: Sea Grant Extension Program

Pamela Tom, Seafood Extension Program Manager, California Sea Grant Extension Program, Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis, pdtom@ucdavis.edu

Glen A. Lewis, Energy and Supply Chain Management Advisor, California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research, Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis, galewis@ucdavis.edu