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Fish is a climate-friendly choice and pulled herring is the newest fish trend

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Publication date 4.4.2019 15.14 | Published in English on 2.5.2019 at 14.08
News item

Reducing food waste and mitigating climate change have become important priorities for many consumers and food sector businesses. Can our food choices bring change to society and the world? Pulled herring is currently being developed alongside other alternative protein sources. Bringing new fish products to the market requires long-term planning and open-minded cooperation.

Pulled herring could be used as an alternative to ground meats. At the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland laboratory in Espoo, researchers are working on the newest fish industry product, pulled herring, which is produced using the entire fish. Industrial manufacturing means the herring do not need to be gutted and boned. The brown strips of pulled herring contain all the internal organs, bones and scales.

Pulled herring preserves all the great properties of fish. According to the researchers at VTT, products made from sustainably caught, local herring are an excellent choice for consumers who are concerned about overfishing of the world’s oceans. Discerning customers choose ingredients that are caught and produced locally and responsibly.

“Food consumption habits are currently undergoing a transformation, so now is a good time to increase the rate of herring production and offer it to consumers as a healthy, environmentally friendly choice,” says Asmo Honkanen, Manager of Production Systems at the Natural Resources Institute.

Further processing requires investments

The development of new food products and the further processing of added-value products starts with top quality raw ingredients. Further processing also means a need for larger investments.

“Processing herring into pulled herring requires an extruder, which is not a very common tool in fish processing. However, it would make it possible to produce an entirely new type of product. It would also make it possible to process herring that are too small for filleting and are therefore not currently being used for food production,” says Kaisu Honkapää, Senior Scientist at VTT.

New products – sustainable choices

Only a fraction of the Finnish herring catch is currently used for food. As part of the Blue Products innovation programme, the Natural Resources Institute, the University of Turku and VTT are working together to find new ways to use herring and other underutilised fish. In addition to food, the researchers are also seeking applications in the cosmetics industry, for example.

“The innovation programme, which has received support from the European Fisheries Fund, aims to increase the rate of production of local fish, especially herring, in Finland and to thereby improve the yield and value of the entire production chain,” says Timo Halonen, Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.                          

The fish catch in Finland is around 150–150 million kilogrammes per year, but the industry has a negative trade balance of around EUR 350 million. New herring products have a great deal of potential to turn the trade balance of the industry in a positive direction. The total output of the fisheries industry is expected to grow in the future.


Timo Halonen, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295162411, timo.halonen(at)

Kaisu Honkapää, Senior Scientist, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, tel. +358 400138963, kaisu.honkapaa(at)

Asmo Honkanen, Manager, Production Systems, Natural Resources Institute Finland, tel. +358 295327308, asmo.honkanen(at)

The next step is finding new ways to produce herring so Finns will be more likely to choose it. Herring is a very healthy food, but it is not a very popular choice nowadays.

How is pulled herring made? Why should we eat more herring? Watch the video to hear what the experts have to say about pulled herring and Finnish fish. Link to video (in Finnish)