World Record in Filleting of Small Fish. Ulf Groenqvist – the owner of SEAC AB of Sweden tells about the world record in filetting of small fish

The Swedish Fish Processing Machine manufacturer – SEAC AB – located on the Royal summer Island of Öland, Sweden (in the Baltic Sea) – is one of the main suppliers of very small fish. What is then ”smaller fish”? We use to say under 50 pcs per kilo down to even 120 fish/kilo!

During the recent demo test for customers from Russia, Romania, Latvia and Finland, SEAC made an extrordinary test – to fillet and ”belly clean” small sprats, Baltic herring and anchovy down to 6-8 grams. During the same test they processed up to six different end products from the same fish in the SEAC FPM-400 Nobbing and Filleting machine.
The Swedish company SEAC AB and it’s founder Ulf Groenqvist started to redevelop former Swedish fish processing machine manufacturer ARENCO’s herring machines also for smaller fish, and during 2010-2012 they introduced their brand new machine progamme – SEAC FPM machine – today the one and only filleting machine for very, very small fish in the world.

Mr Groenqvist noticed that the fish became smaller and smaller both in Baltic Sea but also in the Mediterrenean Sea from the 1990s to this day. Same result was seen on many more places all over the world.

During the 5–8 years the SEAC FPM-400 machine has been on the market, a tremendous development has been made – both on new fish species but also on new end products.

The tests started with smaller Baltic herring and vendace (40–70 fpk) and the next step was sprats and anchovy (two very popular fish species), but due to it’s smallness – very difficult to process by hand (try to hold a 10 gram fish and then try to fillet it by hand, and you will understand why).

Normally no fish processing machine in the world can compare it’s recovery or yield with hand filleting, but now, when we are close to the edge of smallness of fish, the machine works even better than hand filleting. Furthermore, with a processing machine you avoid injuries during filleting; machine works constantly while human gets tired after a while, and you improve the hygienic standard inside the factory.

But perhaps most important is the capacity. The machine can do up to 400 fish pockets/min (F 30 – smallest pocket size) but 4-5 people can only fill up to 325/330 fish/min into the pockets. The SEAC FPM-200 (Nobbing and Filleting machine) reduces the number of operators by 10-12, but the FPM-400 filleting machine reduces the number of operators by up to 40 people.

Today there is no autofeeder that can feed so small fish (today’s existing feeders from PERUZA or SWEDEFISH can do down to approx 50/60 fpk) but on smaller sizes the accurracy or the capacity is yet not enough. Today, such autofeeder doesn’t increase the capacity but only reduces the number of operators.


During the BIG DEMO TEST in Sweden, companies from four different countries tested their defrosted Swedish Baltic herring and sprats but also sprats from Black Sea and from both Latvia and Russia part of the Baltic Sea. Also some defrosted anchovy from Turkey where tested.

All fish where defrosted in cold water and, of course, the inside temperature was zero degrees or more. Some of the fish was very soft; some belly cracked – but due to SEAC unique mechanical gutting system with individual head measuring system – included in the SEAC FPM-series – it looks like ”the more softer or worse quality of the fish – the better production”.

How can it be like this? Well, most other fish processing machines are using vacuum gutting when removing the entrails out from the stomach and if fish is defrosted, poor quality or belly cracked, the vaccum has problems to suck out the belly cavity, but the mechanical gutting system on SEAC FPM-series is working almost exactly as hand-gutting with all advantages coming out from this.

End products from test:
We talked earlier about different end products coming out from the tests in our machines.
They where:

A H&G (beheaded and gutted) with tail left on fish cutlet
B H&G + T (beheaded, gutted and tailcut)
Both A and B are done in SEAC FPM-200 H&G+T machine and yield should be from 65 up to 72%.
C+D H&G (with or without tail and ”belly cleaned). This is a ”new end-product” coming up on the market all over the world. Here you open the belly with two horizontal knives (cutting away the part of the fish where there normally are worms and parazites) and also the black membrane inside the belly cavity is removed. Of course, also the blood strain under the back bone is removed.

E+F Butterfly fillet with or without tail. Here the back- and belly-bones are removed by two angled set of knives and the outcome is a nice butterfly fillet ready to be cooked/eaten.

Both C to F are done in SEAC FPM-400 (which is SEAC FPM-200 + a filleting machine – SEAC FPM-350)
Result from the test = NEW WORLD RECORD

Test No 1: Filleting of Baltic sprats (64 fish = 576 grams, about 9 grams each). End result: 241,5 gram fillets – yield 43%. Different fish fat consistence due to summer and winter fishing.
Test No 2: Filleting of Baltic herring and bigger sprats. (64 fish = 1087 grams, about 17 grams each). End result: 587 gram fillets – yield 54%.
Test No 3: Filleting of Baltic sprats (45 fish = 1098 grams, about 24 grams each). End result: 475 gram fillets – yield 46%.
Test No 4: Belly Cleaning of sprats, tail on. (50 fish = 442,5 grams, about 9 grams each). End result: 298 gram BC-fish – yield 67%.
Test No 5: Belly Cleaning of sprats, tail off. (50 fish = 438 grams, about 9 grams each). End result: 288,5 gram BC-fish – yield 66%.
Test No 6: Belly Cleaning of Baltic sprats and small Baltic herring, tail on. (55 fish = 737,5 grams, about 13,4 grams each). End result: 432 gram BC-fish – yield 58%.
Test No 7: Belly Cleaning of Baltic sprats and small Baltic herring, tail off. (50 fish = 713 grams, about 14,3 grams each). End result: 426 gram BC-fish – yield 60%.
Test No 8: Belly cleaning of Baltic sprats, tail on. (36 fish = 964,5 grams, about 26,8 grams each). End result: 548 gram BC-fish – yield 57%.
Test No 9: Belly cleaning of Baltic sprats, tail off. (38 fish = 993,5 grams, about 26 grams each). End result: 566 gram BC-fish – yield 57%.

NOTE It is very hard to calculate the yield (recovery after processing) exactly due to many circumstances outside the machine manufacturer’s control, such as:

  • Size of fish
    Quality of fish
    How fish has been fished
    How fish has been handled during the transportation to the processing plant
    Presorting of the fish
    How the fish has been frozen
    How the fish has been defrosted
    Skillness of operator
    Processor’s requirements

However, SEAC is very proud to say that ”SIZE doesn’t matter” – we can process any smaller size in our FPM-machines” – hopefully this WORLD RECORD shows this.