Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 9

Grant helps researchers develop a
domestic market for jellyfish

COURTESY UGA CAES

U

niversity of Georgia (UGA) food scientists and marine extension experts
received a nearly $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to
develop food products from cannonball jellyfish, which could boost economic
growth on the Georgia coast.
Harvested from waters off of the southeastern coast of the U.S., cannonball
jellyfish, commonly called jellyballs, have become a prominent catch for fisheries in
the region and are a way for shrimpers to diversify their catch during the offseason
for shrimp. But up until now there has never been a sustainable domestic market for
jellyfish food products.
" Large amounts of jellyfish are harvested on the coast of Georgia, but what is
harvested is sold almost entirely to Asian markets, " said Kevin Mis Solval, a food
process engineer specializing in developing novel food ingredients at UGA's College
of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. " A big challenge in creating a more
domestic industry will be building the demand by creating a product that people can
use in their everyday lives. "
Rather than preparing whole jellyfish as snacks or packaged meals, which would
require a major investment in large-scale processing facilities and could be perceived
as unappealing by U.S. consumers, Mis Solval proposed the idea of engineering dry
food ingredients that could be used in several food applications or supplements.
Cannonball jellyfish contain
large concentrations of collagen,
a naturally occurring protein that
is edible and can be used to create food stabilizers and thickeners, Mis Solval said.
Jinru Chen, a UGA professor
of food microbiology, and Bryan
Fluech and Tori Stivers from
the UGA Marine Extension and
Georgia Sea Grant make up the
team that will research
opportunities to expand the
state's jellyfish industry.
Creating a domestic market
Domestic demand for jellyfish could boost Georgia's
for
jellyfish
could be a muchseafood industry and related businesses. Here, a net
needed
boost
for Georgia's coast.
full of jellyfish is emptied onto a ship, as fishers begin
One
company,
Darien-based
to process the haul.
Golden Island International,
already has invested in a processing facility in McIntosh County, where the jellyfish
are dried and salted before being shipped to Asia.
New methods for harvesting and production could benefit plant employees and
fishers, allowing processing companies and seasonal shrimpers to gain more yearround work, Stivers said. With the development of a domestic market for cannonball
jellyfish-based products, U.S.-based companies also would mitigate the risk inherent
in relying too heavily on overseas business-a venture that is vulnerable to trade wars
or increased tariffs.
For more information about the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology, visit foodscience.uga.edu. Follow new developments from the UGA Marine
Extension and Georgia Sea Grant at gacoast.uga.edu.
-Sean Montgomery, CAES (UGA College of Agricultural
and Environmental Sciences) News

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9


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Georgia Magazine - March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - March 2021

Contents
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 4
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 5
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 6
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 7
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 8
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - 9
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Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - March 2021 - Cover4
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