Meet the WEFTA-award winner of 2022 John Fagan at WEFTA 2023.

John Fagan is a Senior Food Technologist at Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and works with the Irish seafood processing sector to identify new opportunities to drive sustainable growth. He is the WEFTA National Representative for Ireland and has being attending WEFTA for 20+ years. Most of his work consists of working closely with Irish whitefish, pelagic, shellfish processors and fishers to maximize quality and value throughout the supply chain. John is part of a team driving business development and Innovation with key clients who are investing heavily in new technologies aimed at process automation, quality optimsation, new product development and digitization. BIM works across all parts of the Irish seafood sector including processing, aquaculture, fisheries and more recently, BIM monitors and actively engages with global RDI individuals and networks to stay abreast of commercially-attractive processing and AQUA-TECH opportunities. A large volume of BIM’s work involves identifying global innovations, expertise and new solutions, trialing and testing these under Irish commercial conditions and providing funding and training to develop new business opportunities. While John started life in the laboratory exploring the influence of packaging, processing and clean-label ingredients on shelf-life of whitefish, salmonid and pelagic fish species, more recently he is part of a Demersal team scanning globally for new opportunities to add further value to the Irish seafood sector. WEFTA is a hugely valuable platform for researchers to share their knowledge and expertise with a global network of experts and BIM works closely with various WEFTA RDI groups to access test centers, equipment and explore new concepts together. John will discuss key needs and opportunities for the Irish seafood sector and opportunities for WEFTA experts to address some of the ongoing issues along the seafood supply chain. Issues such as new sustainable technologies for increasing shelf-life, decreasing costs, enhancing competitiveness and future-proofing seafood supply chains will be discussed. By the end of 2023, Irish seafood processors will have invested up to €45million in upgrading processing factories, buying new equipment and automating previously manual processes. John is keenly interested in understanding R&D with high technology readiness levels (TRL) which can be trialled, scaled and implemented in client companies within short time spans and is very excited to learn more about your R&D.

Research, Development and Innovation opportunities for the Irish seafood sector – we need your input

The Irish Seafood sector was valued at €1.3billion in 2022 with 160 Irish seafood processing facilities, 1993 registered fishing vessels and 319 aquaculture companies operating throughout the country. As experienced within all global seafood supply chains, numerous factors are directly affecting performance of the sector including significant pressure to ensure supply chains are sustainable and transparent, the need to de-carbonise traditionally energy intensive processes, the push to automate driven by increasing labour costs and changing market dynamics brought about by new and disruptive technologies developed by global competitors. More than ever, we need the global seafood R&D community to align knowledge and approach to explore new technologies around optimizing raw material quality and shelf-life, monitoring and reducing the environmental impact of fishing, processing and aquaculture supply chains and creating new and circular approaches to maximization of all biomass (fisheries/processing/aquaculture) to ensure we are exploiting these in the most sustainable way possible. This keynote address will discuss various factors affecting the Irish seafood sector and discuss examples of fisheries, processing and aquaculture initiatives Ireland Inc is exploring to both valorize and safeguard the Irish seafood sector. BIM is heavily involved in identifying global knowledge and solutions, testing these with the Irish seafood sector and exploring whether these can be scaled to add further value, improve sustainability credentials, and increase margins or decrease costs. The knowledge generated by WEFTA scientists over the past 20+ years continues to inform best practice across the seafood supply chain and is actively aligning a global approach to ensuring our valuable aquatic resources are used in the most sustainable way possible.