Virgin herring is a winner in Germany Photo: Friesenkrone

Project Year 2017

Virgin herring – trendy in Germany

 Processing technology  

Virgin herring is a winner: full of healthy fats, it is making herring trendy in the German restaurant market.

Behind the scenes, Nofima is proudly watching the product we helped develop become a success.

Virgin herring comes from the same raw material as Matjes herring – three-year-old sexually mature herring that have not yet developed roe or milt. The Dutch word “Maatjes” means maiden.

Each year around 140 million matjes herring are produced along Norway’s coast.


Friesenkrone, which markets virgin herring under the brand name “SJØ”, has introduced the product in both sushi and tapas versions, and with a number of different flavours developed by creative young chefs, such as chocolate, onions, fresh cheese and dill. The German food magazine “Küche” gave “SJØ” first prize in the “Küche Awards” for 2017.

“We can’t take credit for the products, only for the process behind virgin herring as a raw material,” says Torstein Skåra, senior scientist at Nofima.

Project from 2012

The origin is Norway, the North Sea and Nofima. The young herring are caught in a very short season just before spawning.

In 2012 Torstein Skåra and Morten Heide at Nofima were tasked with participating in the development of new herring products. Processes were developed to adapt the flavour and texture of herring to the market’s desires and needs. The work was carried out at and in partnership with Egersund Seafood – now Pelagia.

Bright outlook for other markets

“Judging by the popularity of Friesenkrone herring in Germany, the outlook looks bright for other potential markets. A trial introduction of this concept is now being planned in China,” Skåra says.

It is incredibly satisfying to see that the manufacturer is winning awards for its work.

“Research is very rewarding when a project you’ve worked on yields new products that many people enjoy,” Skåra says.

Friesenkrone, Pelagia

Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF)

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