Fish skin becomes fish gelatin and healthy snacks

Karin Loft Eybye

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Fish skin becomes fish gelatin and healthy snacks

This project was completed in 2021.

Fish skin is today a biproduct of the fish industry. A development project will reduce waste by turning fish skin into high value ingredients such as fish gelatin, ingredients in skin care products and healthy snacks such as fish chips. This project brings a large number of industrial partners together as well as the Danish Technological Institute and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) as knowledge partners.

  • When there is no current production of fish gelatin or fish chips in Denmark, new knowledge must be supplied to the companies in relation to new processing steps. For a long time, the focus has been on utilizing side streams together with the Danish fish and food industry. We are looking forward to applying this experience into this fish skin project as well and contributing the realization of its commercial potential – so the waste product can become a high value product says business manager Karin Eybye, Danish Technological Institute. 

Large quantities of fish lands in Danish harbors every year, some of which ends up as low value residual products for feed. Fish skin has a large potential as a high value product in the form of gelatin and fish chips. There are currently no production of fish gelatin or fish chips in Denmark. This project will put an end to that. The project deals with cold water fish such as cod and pollack, where the residual products typically make up 40%.  

Completely new market opportunities in fish gelatin

The market for fish gelatin is limited in 2018 but is expected to increase in the following years due to cultural and lifestyle-based customers wishes. It is therefore important that Denmark gets on the bandwagon now, points out Marco Frederiksen from Eurofish International Organization.

He has great expectations for the opportunities of the project for both the fishing industry and ingredient and food companies:

  •  With this project a completely new and sustainable value chain is being develop in Denmark. We already have a global position of strength within food ingredients. It is natural as a fishing nation to expand this position with fish gelatin. Hopefully with a new application, fishing can also get a slightly better price for the raw materials, says Marci Frederiksen, senior project manager at Eurofish International Organization.

From knowledge to new quality products

Danish Fish Protein is one of the partners in the project. They are already working with fish skin as a raw material but sees great opportunities in further product differentiation via the characterization of fish gelatin for various applications.

Director, Greta Jakobsen, has this angle on the market opportunities:

  • We have a strategy to develop knowledge-based products of high quality. Through this project we expect to develop a process and raw materials for 1-2 applications. DTU offers the research background on the characterization, while the Danish Technological Institute contributes with the application development. In this way I expect that great, concrete value will be created in the project, says Greta Jakobsen, Director at Danish Fish Protein.

Extraction and test

In addition to food, Danish Food Protein expects a potential within microencapsulation and skincare product.

This is made possible in the project by extracting fish gelatin from the fish and testing the functional properties of the prototypes for microencapsulation of oil, as well as in selected skin care series with the participating companies. In relation to fish chips, tests and pilot production are carried out and different flavor variations will be tested by consumers. Based on these tests companies will be able to start actual production with minimized risk and investment.

In this context the Danish Technological Institute has been brought into the project to contribute with competences within the development of production methods of ingredients, facilities for testing and quality assessment of prototypes, for example by consumers panels, as well as in depth knowledge of physical and chemical characterization.

Facts on the project

The project was supported by the Green Development and Demonstration Program, GUDP under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and ran from 01.02.18 – 01.02.21.

Participants in the project: Eurofish International Organization, Pandalus A/S, P. Taabbel & Co. A/S, Bioceval A/S, Danish Fish Protein (Hoejmark Group A/S), Technical University of Denmark and Danish Technological Institute.