The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) said seven different packaging formats would be developed with the aim of ensuring the pipis were able to travel long distances and remain alive or fresh for as long possible.
Pipis are bivalve molluscs and the variety used in this project is not the same as the New Zealand pipi.
Packaging formats will include vacuum and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) but not active and smart packaging as the group want to work with tried and trusted methods.
The pipis are currently sold in bulk or loose in an esky to central fish markets and have a shelf life of around five to six days, said Karen McNaughton, senior food technologist at SARDI.
She told FoodProductionDaily.com that the plan is to enhance the product and push it into new markets for premium opportunity, looking at the packaging, consumer convenience and the possibility of more messages on the pack.
The product will be fresh or blanched and will be packaged chilled or frozen under modified atmosphere or vacuum conditions.
The project, which starts this week after the planning stage, is targeting a limited market launch for around October this year.
“A technical panel will look at how long the pipis survive and what effects increasing the shelf life will have on the visual, microbiological and sensory qualities of the process.
“There will also be an end user customer evaluation to look at the packaging format, size, weight and information on the packaging.”
She added that the project will use a small machine at first as they need to “walk before they can run.”
How it started
SARDI Food Safety and Innovation group work with a variety of primary industries so they started talking to the pipi segment and started on the idea through a state government initiative voucher scheme to stimulate innovation in the local industries.
“The minimum aim is to double the product shelf life from five or six days to target the domestic market but ultimately, as part of a three year strategic plan, look for overseas market opportunities,” said McNaughton.
Grace Portolesi, Minister for Science and Information Economy, said the project is being awarded AUS$12,333 in funding as part of the Innovation Voucher Program, a State Government initiative to support innovative local businesses.
“Currently fresh Pipis are only sold on the domestic market, but this project aims to open up new interstate and international retail and food service opportunities,” she said.