New crabmeat-extraction mechanism developed


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
August 24, 2009

A North Carolina entrepreneur has developed a new way to process and market fresh crabmeat.

Gabe Dough, an MBA student at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and founder of Shure Foods, created a mechanism for extracting crabmeat from the shell without cooking it, replacing the manual labor involved with picking crabmeat and yielding a higher percentage of meat per pound of raw material.

Dough also came up with a means to tweak the texture and consistency of fresh crabmeat so it can be formulated into medallions, nuggets or patties. The fresh crabmeat is treated with a protein-binding agent that allows it to be quickly shaped, portioned and frozen so it can be shipped uncooked to restaurants worldwide. When thawed, chefs can prepare it as fresh crabmeat.

A Roanoke Island native, Dough is trying to give the region’s blue crab fishing and processing industry a much-needed boost.

“This opens new doors to the marketplace, and it lets us bring the price down,” Dough explained. “Our goal is to open new uses for crab, not to replace other crabmeat. Our product will include mostly North American blue crab, local crab that’ll be priced competitively with foreign imported crab, which should also help our crabbing industry.

“Crab catches come in waves,” he added. “There are times when the current market can’t handle the volume. Other times they can’t get enough. It causes violent price action while crabbers, trying to make a living, have to dump product onto the market. Crabs are a perishable item. The end result is that the crabber loses money and the resource becomes misallocated.”

Dough received a USD 30,000 (EUR 20,967) low-interest Company Inception Loan from the nonprofit North Carolina Biotechnology Center to get Shure Foods off the ground. The loan allowed him to produce commercial-scale batches of his crabmeat.

Dough is now in search of industry partners and customers.

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