Nofima reinvents North Sea herring

Nofima researchers have developed Virgin herring. Photo: Ragnhild Skåra/Nofima Nofima researchers have developed Virgin herring. Photo: Ragnhild Skåra/Nofima
Industry Database

Norway's Nofima is taking advantage of the increase in North Sea herring stocks to create a new product, Virgin herring.

Researchers have developed new processing methods to preserve the taste and texture of the raw material which is the same as Matjes herring – the most famous North Sea herring – and have created new market-adapted products.

The company says the herring used must have the right gut content of copepod and have a high fat content. The virginal aspect of the new herring product is related to the small size of the fish, which is to be spawning for the first time.

Nofima says in market terms, Virgin herring is in keeping with consumer demand for “uncomplicated products with less salt”. Virgin herring is filleted and lightly salted compared to most other traditional herring products.

New processes also ensure the products are made with a milder ‘Matjes flavour’ to appeal to younger consumers.

Based on trials conducted over the past two years, full-scale processes have been developed for the production of new fillet products. While Matjes is filleted after processing is completed, the new products can be produced directly from fillets, with or without skin.

Testing work is ongoing with leading manufacturers in several markets. Feedback from the market evaluations will decide whether further adjustment and development of the processes and products is needed.

Nofima says it aims to launch the products for industrial customers and the hotel, restaurant and catering sectors after the year’s season.

Development of the product has been carried out in close cooperation with the industry using funding from the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund.

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