With the Help of a Sea Grant Workshop, Burgers Go Fishing

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With the Help of a Sea Grant Workshop, Burgers Go Fishing

Last fall, Dan Kauffman, Virginia Tech extension staff affiliated with Virginia Sea Grant (VASG), held a VASG-funded workshop to help seafood processors learn more about how they could enter the value-added market.

Sunburst Trout Farm's new Trout Burger. ©Jean Dent

Sunburst Trout Farm’s new Trout Burger. ©Jean Dent

Thanks to North Carolina Sea Grant and Devika Banerji for allowing Virginia Sea Grant to repost this story. Find the full article here.

More and more, fish processors are working to produce new, value-added seafood that will last longer on the shelf and stand out and compete with imported products.

Last fall, Dan Kauffman, Virginia Tech extension staff affiliated with Virginia Sea Grant (VASG), held a VASG-funded workshop at the Culinary Institute of Virginia to help seafood processors learn more about how they could enter the value-added market. North Carolina’s Sunburst Trout Farms provided a real-life example with a new value-added product: trout burgers.

Value added means just that—adding value to a product. Producers do this by making a product that is quick to prepare, versatile, and affordable, resulting in a product that is more appealing to customers.

The workshop provided seafood producers and businesses with information for getting into value-added markets. For part of the workshop, Kauffman brought together Charles Hudson, research and development chef at Sunburst, and Barry Nash, North Carolina Sea Grant’s seafood technology and marketing specialist, to develop a prototype that showed the conference attendees the steps needed to create a value added seafood product. Hudson and Nash chose to use the tout burger as that vehicle. By the time of the conference, the burger had gone through several reformulations and been reviewed by several taste panels. After tasting the burger, conference attendees made their own suggestions. Then, after the conference, Nash and Hudson made further improvements to the burger to get it ready for market.

To make the burger, Sunburst uses meat left on the fish frame after cutting a fillet. While the meat is of the same quality as the premium fillets, it’s in small pieces after being scraped from the bones. The trout burger offers a high quality and affordable way to utilize the meat, rather than tossing it aside.

That affordability coupled with versatility is key. Says Nash, “There is only so much you can do with just a fillet. Consumers need products that are healthy, flavorful, and easy to cook.”

Currently, the trout burger is only available to wholesale buyers at $8 a pound. However, the burgers will be coming to grocery stores soon.

This is a summary of an article that was originally posted in the Autumn 2014 issue of Coastwatch, a North Carolina Sea Grant Magazine, as well as NC State University’s website.