The AGTECH Program was initiated in 2007 by the Council of Agriculture (COA) under the Executive Yuan, and it has already subsidized many companies for various successful R&D achievements and subsequent transition to commercialization. Among these companies is Fortune Life Enterprise Co., Ltd., which conducted the Development of Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) Technology for Small Shrimp through Micro-glazing and Vibration Module Program from 2017 to 2018, resulting in the successful completion of Individual Freezing and Glazing (IFG) technology for automated production of small-size catches such as sakura shrimp (Sergestes lucens), Taiwan mauxia shrimp (Acetes intermedius), and whitebait. The success of this technology has earned the company international and domestic purchasing orders since the end of 2018, which in turn led to Fortune Life signing procurement contracts for sakura shrimps with suppliers from Dongkang, thus providing a steady source of income to local fishermen. In the long run, marketing campaigns in niche markets are being studied in order to raise the international competitiveness for Taiwan’s frozen aqua-product.
The COA pointed out that Taiwan’s sakura shrimp population is found in coastal areas near Yilan’s Toucheng and Pingdong’s Dongkang from November to May of the following year. Its coloration and flavor are well-loved by both Taiwanese and Japanese consumers alike. However, Japanese consumers often demand that the physical integrity of a product must be intact; therefore, damaged sakura shrimps are considered sub-par merchandise and sold at a lower price. Although conventional pouch-freezing method is somewhat effective in keeping products fresh, but it also causes shrimps to stick together and form lumps or blocks. This presents a major hassle whenever only a small portion is needed for cooking; consumers must thaw the whole block in order to obtain the desired quantity. This repetitive thawing process is not only time consuming but also result in the loss of flavor and freshness.
The COA explained that after 2 years of R&D, Fortune Life has successfully developed a vibration separator for mass production. Through experimenting with various thickness of glazing using food-grade gelatin and upgrading refrigeration equipment as well as production line automation, imperfections and defects in small-size seafood caused by repeated defrosting can be improved and therefore, effectively increase freshness, quality, and individual physical entirety of the product. Moreover, more than 80% of labor cost can be reduced. The company has completed 3 new product development projects including Individual Micro-glazed Sakura Shrimp, Taiwan Mauxia shrimp, and whitebait. It has even developed derivative products such as sakura shrimp sauce, dried sakura shrimp, and sakura shrimp meal. By the end of 2018, Fortune Life has already been awarded 3 international and domestic partnership agreements from Japan and other countries. Furthermore, the company has also contributed to providing a steady income for fishermen by placing an order for 75 tons of sakura shrimp. Fortune Life has even invested more than NT$ 10 million in expanding its production line, which the company believes it would generate an extra annual production value of NT$ 20 million in 2019.
Assist enterprises to participate in agricultural innovation and R&D
The COA stated that the AGTECH Program has completed 74 projects since its inception in 2007. An accumulative estimate based on the results shows that for each NT Dollar that the government spent in subsidy would in turn result in an average of NT$1.35 direct investment from the industry and yield NT$7.22 worth of production value. Moreover, the derivative investment that comes from the enterprises is over NT$ 1.6 billion. The COA would continue to promote the AGTECH Program to encourage more innovative R&D, so that industrial transformation could be carried out to achieve sustainable development of new agriculture.