Lumpfish caviar from vessel to consumer

FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 485

Lumpfish caviar from vessel to consumer

Jon Johannesson
FAO Visiting Scientist
Fishery Industries Division
FAO Fisheries Department
Rome, Italy

Rome, 2006

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© FAO 2006

Johannesson, J.
Lumpfish caviar from vessel to consumer.
FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 485. Rome, FAO. 2006. 60p.


Fish roe products have historically been seen as expensive and highly-desirable luxury food items. The most expensive is true caviar, which uses eggs from sturgeons caught in the Caspian Sea. In recent years, products from other fish species were developed to imitate original caviar. Using processes appropriate for each kind of fish, it is possible to make a similar but nevertheless an imitation product. Eggs from many fish species can be used. Together with roe, other products can be used to emulate caviar, based on the use of gelling agents to produce egg-like spheres from algae or soja for example.

The main purpose of this publication is to present a comprehensive overview of the production of lumpfish caviar as a model for fish caviar production. The source, lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus), is from the North Atlantic and can be used as a case study to develop similar products from other fish species, as was done with capelin caviar when it was created by lumpfish caviar producers in the 1990s. The document describes fishing methods, initial preservation by salting and storage of the salted eggs, as well as details on the caviar production process itself, where highly-salted eggs are de-salted and blended with other ingredients to obtain the final product, lumpfish caviar. Product safety is considered, and the rules and regulations that apply to the main markets are discussed. Production and marketing statistics demonstrate the extent of the global lumpfish caviar business. The publication draws heavily on source material from Iceland, a major producer and processor, and includes many illustrations.


Part I  (530 Kb)   Part II  (409 Kb)   Part III  (555 Kb)

Preparation of this document

1.  Fish roe products and relevant resources for the industry
     Definitions of caviar
     Lumpfish caviar
     The roe industry
     The lumpfish caviar industry

2.  World production and markets for lumpfish eggs and lumpfish caviar
     World production of salted lumpfish eggs

3.  Catch methods and roe separation
     The fishing boats
     The fishing gear
     Utilizing the catch
     The roe market

4.  Screening, salting and storing lumpfish eggs
     Screening and separating eggs from the sac
     Type of salt
     Use of preservatives
     The salting procedure
     The curing process
     Storage conditions
     Long-term storage and its effect on quality and yield
     Other methods of preserving lumpfish eggs
     Freezing and thawing methods

5.  The process of making lumpfish caviar
     The processing plant

6.  Hygiene and handling methods from catch to end product
     HACCP considerations
     Catching, gutting and collecting roes onboard
     Personal hygiene

7.  Test procedures
     Own laboratory
     Use of laboratories outside the processing plant
     A positive release system with certificates of conformance available
     Corrective processes

8.  End-product specifications
     Official specifications
     Buyer specifications

9.  Official rules and regulations on safety
     Food safety regulations
     Labelling and presentation

10.  Future trends and possibilities for the lumpfish industry

     References cited
     Other sources