The North American frozen seafood market reached $14B in 2021 and is expected to grow to $17.6B by 2027. Convenience and health consciousness are significant drivers in this trend. But there are even bigger benefits to be shared by brands with the expertise to make the most of today’s top tech when freezing their fare. And Secret Island’s role in preserving our favorite kind of food is no fish tale.
A Birdseye View on the Birth of Frozen Foods
Most people equate Clarence Birdseye with the frozen vegetables he pioneered to earn his place in the frozen foods aisle. But this idiosyncratic innovator had a taste for adventure that put him on a colorful path to get there. That journey started on a dog sled expedition in Labrador in 1912. There he learned firsthand how the fish the local Inuits caught were “frozen in mid-flip” in the -30° F air. To his delight, Birdseye found they tasted better than any frozen fish he’d had back in his hometown of New York City. That wilderness meal inspired him to dig deeper into his hosts’ frozen food stocks. When he compared a fish frozen in mid-winter to one frozen in the spring, he discovered that the former had smaller ice crystals that presented less damage to the fish. And their superior taste confirmed that the speed of freezing was critical to preserving both freshness and taste. That insight would inspire Birdseye’s creation of what he called “a marvelous new process which seals in every bit of just-from-the-ocean flavor.”
Today’s Tech Takes Freshness Farther
Many have built upon Birdseye’s initial investigations to improve the flash-freezing process. The system used by Secret Island is the latest and greatest manifestation of the principles he first discovered and defined. The portioning and power used for this advanced technology go far beyond what was available in his time. The Individually Quick Frozen (IFQ) process we employ permits each perfectly portioned cut of salmon to be frozen separately. That segmentation decreases the speed needed for freezing, producing ice crystals so small there is virtually no loss of freshness quality. The IQF tunnel these portions pass through lives up to the promise in the flash-frozen name. It achieves an average temperature of -80° F to freeze each fish portion within minutes of its ride through this part of our production line. The careful calibration of the timing of that ride between harvest, portioning, freezing, and packaging is the secret to preserving the natural purity and freshness of our legendary seafood.
Better Health and Taste with Less Waste
Once our flash-frozen seafood is received at home, the standard recommended 0° F temperature of your home freezer will keep it safe. As the USDA notes, “freezing to 0 °F inactivates any microbes—bacteria, yeasts, and molds—present in food.” That preservation of wellness, however, is only half of the flash-frozen health story. Our strict protocols for processing our fish ensure the other. Because according to the National Fisheries Institute, when a fish is caught, handled well, and frozen immediately, you literally stop the clock to freeze in freshness without any nutritional loss.
The latest science combined with a survey of consumer tastes proves the ultimate power of flash-freezing on the plate. In a 2017 study performed by the environmental non-profit organization Ecotrust, both a blind taste test of flash-frozen vs. fresh seafood and the use of an electronic Seafood Certified Quality Reader (CQR) delivered similar results. The CQR device uses low-frequency electrical currents that measure the relative conductivity that serves as a metric for the cellular degradation of seafood over time. Results of the consumer tests and CQR data both indicated that flash-frozen fish can be a fresher, higher quality product than never-frozen fish purchased at retail.
Finally, as the food industry experts at Winsight note, seafood that’s frozen can benefit the health of our planet in ways that fresh products can’t. Our individually packaged cuts of salmon are especially convenient for providing only the portions you need to prepare at any given time. That makes them less likely to miss the plate to become part of the 30-40% of the U.S. food supply that ends up as waste.
We’re grateful to the innovative Inuits who first inspired Clarence Birdseye to bring flash-frozen foods to the world. One bite of Secret Island salmon will show you that we’ve got the recipe for the freshest-tasting salmon you can buy down to a science too.