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What Is Fish Processing?

The term Fish Processing refers to the preparation of fish and seafood for delivery to consumers. Processing is necessary to keep fish fresh long enough to reach the shelves in stores, restaurants and homes. Fish caught / harvested must undergo several steps before it is ready to be sold in the market. Larger fish processing companies often operate their own fishing fleets or farming operations control the entire process in house. The preparation process is comprised of a series of steps which include fish handling, primary and secondary processing.

Fish handling, which is the preliminary processing of raw fish and primary processing, which involves heading, gutting, fresh fish filleting, smoking, etc, prepares the fish for further processing and fish product manufacturing which this article will focus on.

Further fish processing, such as forming, coating, frying, cooking, chilling / freezing and packaging sometimes coined as secondary processing is key to adding value and preparing the product for the shelf.

GEA CFS EasyFlour 600 Preduster
GEA / CFS WetCoater 600

Coated Fish and Seafood - Adding Value

Battered and breaded seafood offers a convenience food valued widely by the consumer. Battered and breaded items are included in the value-added products because the process of coating with batter and breadcrumbs increases the bulk and weight of the product allowing the end product to be priced higher.

The pick-up of coating on any fish product can be increased either by adjusting the viscosity of batter or by repeating the process of battering and breading several times to achieve the desired weight.

Normally 50% fish portion is expected in any coated product. Fish fingers, fish bites, fish sticks, fish nuggets, fish portions, fish cakes, etc. from various fish species are the most popular breaded seafood product lines while breaded shrimp, lobster, oyster, scallops etc. cater to the luxury market and are widely used in restaurant traditional fish products.

GEA SuperFry 650mm Fryer
GEA SuperFry 650mm Fryer

What are the stages of further processing / secondary processing?

There is an increasing demand for ready to eat fish products, or products that do not require much preparation by the consumer. The production of battered and breaded fish products that are quick and easy for the consumer to prepare at home involves several stages of which are listed below.

The processing steps vary, depending on the type of product as well as the desired coating type, thickness and pickup required.

In most cases the process involves nine steps. They are as follows:

  • Forming

  • Predusting / Flour Application

  • Batter Enrobing

  • Breading

  • Tempura Dipping

  • Frying

  • Cooking

  • Chilling / Freezing

  • Packaging

GEA CFS EasyFlour 600 Preduster
GEA Tiromat Compact (GEA PowerPak Uni) Thermoformer


Forming is an important stage in the production of coated products for the fish and seafood processing industry. Cutting loss and surface area of the portions are the two important points which determine the economics of coated products.

A fairly recent innovation for the fish industry is the forming of skinless and boneless fish fillets or fish meat into a predetermined shape and size using specially designed forming machines. The shapes vary from conventional fillet shapes to several other imaginative ones we see on the supermarket shelves for example traditional fish and starfish shaped nuggets.

At Boyd International, we offer the fish processing industry various forming machines from brands such as GEA Koppens, Formax and Deighton. See examples below:

GEA / CFS Koppens VM400HSE MultiFormer

GEA / CFS Koppens VM900HSE MultiFormer

Formax F6 Burger / Patty Former with Paper Interleaving attachment

Formax F26 Forming machine

Deighton Formatic Forming machines

Formax F6 Burger / Patty Former with Paper Interleaving attachment
Formax F6 Burger / Patty Former with Paper Interleaving attachment


Pre-dust normally consists of a very fine raw flour type material. A more sophisticated and expensive pre-dust may contain spices and seasonings for both functional and flavouring purposes.

The purpose of pre-dusting / flour application is to prepare the surface of the portion so that batter can adhere uniformly. The fine layer of flour that is applied to your fish product mass serves as an adhesive, allowing other coatings to adhere better, for example batters to frozen or greasy food surfaces. It also supports the juiciness of your product and adds yield.

Industrial Flour applicators / predusting machines evenly coat a layer of mixed flours uniformly all over the product on a conveyor belt. Forced fan and vibrator remove excessive flour.

We at Boyd International offer the fish and seafood processing industry quality used and reconditioned industrial flour applicators / predusting machines from various brands including GEA Koppens, JBT Stein, Meyn and many more.

Predusters available at the moment:

GEA CFS EasyFlour 600 Preduster

Stein JBT 100-24 Preduster – hydraulic

Stein 100-24 Electric Preduster

JBT Stein XL-42F Flour Coater Hydraulic Preduster

GEA CFS EasyFlour 600 Preduster
GEA CFS EasyFlour 600 Preduster

Batter Application / Wet Coating

Dry breading will not adhere to a natural or formed product. A layer of batter, which is a liquid based on starch and proteins, will ensure that breading adheres properly to the product. Boyd International offer several used and refurbished wet coating / batter enrobing machines that are trialled and tested in order to ensure excellent distribution, removal and reuse of batter and suitable for a wide range of fish product capacities.

Single and double pass systems are often applied by fish processing plants to add value with maximising coating thickness and weight.

GEA CFS EasyFlour 600 Preduster
GEA / CFS WetCoater 600

How does an industrial Wet Coater / Batter Enrober work?

The pre-dusted product is conveyed to the batter applicator and transferred to the next conveyor, which will draw it through the batter. The fish portion is totally submersed in the batter as it is drawn through it. Other applicators may use a pour-on application in addition to the submersion method. Irregular shaped products should be placed on the line with any concave surface upward to prevent air pockets from inhibiting batter pickup.

What can Boyd International offer?

We offer various used and refurbished industrial wet coating/ batter applicators from various brands at a fraction of the new cost. Some of these brands include GEA Koppens, JBT Stein, Meyn, Deighton and many more. See examples of batter enrobers available below:

GEA / CFS WetCoater 600 

GEA / CFS Koppens ER400 Batter Enrober (WetCoater) 

Breadcrumb Application

There are many types of breading applicators available, and the appropriate machine depends on the ingredients used. Industrial breading machines apply different types of crumb to a natural or formed fish product that has been battered. A conveyor belt moves the product through a bed of crumb while a curtain applies a top coat, completely submerging the product in the crumb. Pressure rollers are used to apply sufficient force to press crumbs onto the battered product to maximise crumb adhesion.

The speed of the breading machine can be adjusted to closely match the belt speed of the batter applicator to ensure the smooth running of the fish coating process.

Before we discuss the broad range of industrial breaders available, we must first explore the various bread crumb types available to the fish processing industry. They type of crumb one chooses determines the type of breader that will be suitable for handling said crumb.

What are the types of crumb for industrial breading machines?

  • Fine / standard bread crumbs - for standard breading

  • Japanese-style / Panko crumb - crumbling bread crumb which is an ideal coating for various kinds of fish and seafood and popular in the Asian market. Adds value and enhances consistency to fish.

  • Cornflakes crumbs - can be used for enhancing colour and adding texture. Adds significant weight and value.

  • Pandora crumbs - available in a wide range of varieties such as cereal, spices, herbs and gluten free / allergen free crumb coating, enhancing the product value significantly.

  • Rice Krispie crumb - allows the fish product manufacturer to make interesting and innovative products like 'bubble' coated fish products.

Single and double pass systems are often applied by fish processing plants to add value with maximising coating thickness and weight.

JBT Stein 100-24 Breader / Flour Applicator - Hydraulic
JBT Stein 100-24 Breader / Flour Applicator - Hydraulic

Minimal crumb damage and crumb breakdown is key, especially in the case of Japanese, panko, pandora, Rice Krispie and cornflake type crumbs. Breading machines with specific crumb circulation systems are important for handling these crumbs for example the GEA CrumbMaster and the Marel RevoCrumb.

At Boyd International we offer the fish processing industry various types of used or refurbished industrial breading applicator machines to handle a broad range of crumb types from fine to coarse, from various brands but principally JBT Stein, GEA / CFS Koppens / Meyn, Marel, Deighton.

Let us look at the types of JBT Stein breading applicators we offer:

JBT Stein XL Breading Applicators

A high production, convertible breading machine that gives uniform coating with nearly any breading material from flour to free-flowing crumbs and Japanese crumbs. Available in 24" (600mm), 34" (860mm), and 40" (1000mm) widths.

JBT Stein XL-FM Flour Max

An excellent choice for predusting and flour coating applications. The XL-FM is a dedicated flour machine designed to run virtually jam free. Available in 24" (600mm), 34" (860mm), and 40" (1000mm) widths.

JBT Stein E24 Breader - Hydraulic Stein 24 Inch Breading Machine
JBT Stein E24 Breader - Hydraulic Stein 24 Inch Breading Machine

JBT Stein E Series Breading Applicators

Designed to run free flowing coatings and can be adapted to handle Japanese style crumbs. The E series breader is available in 8" (200mm), 16" (400mm), 24" (600mm) and 34" (860mm) widths.

JBT Stein 100 Series Breading Applicators

A machine for general breading application. Capable of running flour and other pre-dust materials in addition to free-flowing breadcrumbs. Available in 8" (200mm), 16" (400mm), 24" (600mm) and 34" (900mm) and 40” (1000mm) widths.

DB-4 Rotary Drum Breaders

Used for pre-dusting irregularly shaped products. The DB-4 applies a uniform coating to any product while gently tumbling.

Standard drum breaders for example:

Drum breader - breading drum / coating drum

Tempura Batter Application

How does an industrial Tempura Dipper work?

A conveyor belt transports products gently down through the tempura or batter, while a top belt makes sure the products are submerged. A conveyor system that gently moves the product through the batter bath ensuring complete and uniform coating coverage even for products with an uneven surface geometry. After they have been dipped, products are conveyed out of the bath.

Tempura batter applicators are designed for applying a heavy viscous leavened tempura style batter to a wide range of food products prior to the frying step.

Industrial tempura coating adds value to fish products by increasing yield and improving bite.

We offer fish processing companies used and refurbished Tempura batter applicators from various brands including GEA Koppens, JBT Stein, Meyn, Marel and many more for example:

Marel TEM 630 Tempura Dipper - click here for more information


After coating with batter/breadcrumbs many products are often flash fried prior to freezing. The purpose of pre-frying is primarily to set the batter/bread coating on the fish portion. Flash frying for example develops a characteristics crust and gives the product a characteristic fried (oily) appearance and taste. Therefore, the temperature of frying oil and the time of frying are critical.

The normal frying temperature is between 180-190 °C and the frying time 20-30 seconds. The term pre-frying is used because the final product frying is completed by the consumer. The battered/breaded fish portions enter the frying medium through a conveyor system, the speed of which is adjusted so as to keep the fish portion in the hot oil for the required time.

GEA SuperFry 650mm Fryer
GEA SuperFry 650mm Fryer

Examples of industrial used and refurbished fryers Boyd International have available at the moment:

Coat and Fry Continuous Oil Fryer

Totally reconditioned - rebuilt from frame up in February 2022.

New electric and new elements.

Electronically heated - 35.2kW heating and 2kW for mechanical – total 37.2kW.

Model 400-1600 Fryer

Belt width 400mm.

Frying length (in oil) 1600mm

Overall length 2050mm.

With Teflon infeed - infeed for tempura-battered products.  Sometimes called "Teflon" infeed.

With top hold down belt.

With a continuous oil pumping system.

Low-level oil safety cut off.

More information on the Coat and Fry Continuous Oil Fryer

Coat and Fry Continuous Oil Fryer - 400mm belt width
Coat and Fry Continuous Oil Fryer - 400mm belt width

GEA SuperFry 4000 / 650mm Fryer

Continuous Fryer with 650mm belt width.

Manufactured by GEA / CFS.

Thermal oil heated.

Teflon infeed for battered / tempura products.

4,000mm frying length in oil.

650mm wide belt.

More information on the GEA SuperFry 4000 / 650mm Fryer.


High and low volume linear ovens for example the MAREL LINEAR OVEN and the GEA FlowCook, are excellent solutions for steaming, cooking, grilling and roasting, whole, formed and ready-to-eat fish products. Various capacity solutions from low to high volume throughputs are possible depending on the execution chosen and on product requirements, such as desired core temperature, correct colour, bite, and taste perception. These industrial multi zone cooking systems are flexible and designed to be both energy efficient and easy to clean.

Other industrial solutions Boyd International offer include cooking kettles for example the Bastra 500 litre cooking kettle which is used for cooking, simmering, scalding, blanching, heating up a wide range of products.

Freezing / Chilling - Fresh Fish / Cooked fish or seafood

The fish portion leaves the fryer with a coating temperature equivalent to that of the oil but still frozen in its centre. Although the fish flesh centre is frozen the surface flesh may be partially thawed. Therefore, a quick and efficient freezing method is essential in maintaining the quality of the coated product.

Time efficient freezing is usually carried out in spiral / tunnel / blast / plate or IQF freezers depending on your seafood freezing needs.

Industrial freezing solutions explained

  • Spiral – Spiral freezers are able to freeze a large number of contents while at the same time maintaining moisture, and flavour throughout the entire freezing process.

  • Tunnel – Tunnel Freezers are able to freeze cooked products that are at high temperatures of up to 90 degrees Celsius (194 F) with no pre cooling necessary, thereby eliminating freezing slowdowns. This is due to the continuous circulation of air within the freezer and no intake of additional hot, outside air. By ensuring continuous inner air freezing capabilities, large quantities of products can be frozen quickly and efficiently in a very short space of time.

  • Blast – Air-blast freezers are the most common type of freezer. Individual product items are placed in a recirculation air stream within a room or tunnel. The air is circulated by fans, which are often associated with the evaporator coils providing cooling.

  • Plate – Ideal for flat products like fish fillets as the product is pressed between metal plates. Fish mince and trim can also be frozen on plate freezers.

GEA / CFS Koppens Spiral Freezer TempoFrost
GEA / CFS Koppens Spiral Freezer TempoFrost

IQF - the IQF method of freezing is special because of its ability to individually freeze all its components and keep them separate from each other.For example, if we were to use an IQF freezer to freeze a batch of shrimp, the shrimp would not be clumped and frozen together. Instead, each individual shrimp would be separate within the batch. This makes it much easier to individually freeze and then store similar products.

Freezing is completed when the internal and external temperature of the fish portion drops to about -18°C.

We supply various brands for example, GEA, Octofrost, Starfrost, Torry and JBT Frigoscandia GYRoCOMPACT for the freezing of fish, crustaceans, shellfish and seafood.

At Boyd International we have the following spiral freezer available at the moment:

GEA Spiral Freezer

Model: GEA S-Tec 18 (1.7) 21-120

Year of manufacture: 2018

Overall belt width: 18 inches (457mm)

Usable belt width: 400mm

Total belt length: 209m

Tiers: 21

Max product height: 45mm

Tier pitch (height between tiers): 120 mm

Refrigerant: NH3 ammonia

Infeed height: 900mm

Outfeed height: 3500mm

Total cooling power required: 130KW

Total installed power: 13 kw + 1.1 kW + 0.75 kW

400 V 50 Hz / 3 phase

Click here to view pictures of the GEA Spiral Freezer as well as a table of product applications.

Spiral freezing systems feature innovative IQF airflow technology, which delivers consistent freeze to seafood products while increasing product output. This provides the processor with optimum product quality and maximum freezer performance benefiting both the business and the consumer.

How do Spiral Freezers Work?

Most spiral freezers employ mechanical or cryogenic refrigeration methods, and the use of high-velocity air pumped over the product in either a horizontal (crossflow) or vertical (downflow) arrangement. However, several airflow configurations are possible.

We also offer tunnel freezers:

Torry Tunnel Continuous Air Blast Freezer TF 115 25

Is a Torry Tunnel suitable for your process?

 The Torry continuous air blast IQF freezer provides an efficient, hygienic method of rapid Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) for a wide range of food products especially fish portions. Its most important feature is its solid stainless-steel belt on which the product is conveyed, which protects the product from damage and contamination. The product is moved through an insulated enclosure where refrigerated air is circulated both over and under the belt at high velocity, thus freezing the product rapidly.


Various packaging solutions exist on the market for packaging coated fish and seafood products. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Box / case

  • Tray – for example for mussels

  • Bulk packaging

  • Vertical Form Fill and Seal Bags

  • Vacuum pack - Fish may be vacuum-sealed to increase shelf life. Fish packed via vacuum packaging deprives the fish product of oxygen, which prevents oxidation reactions and slows down spoilage ergo increasing product shelf life.

  • Horizontal flow wrapper – for making a shrink film pack for frozen fish for example.

  • Bag in box

  • Crate

At Boyd International, we supply a multitude of ultra-reliable, cost-effective used and refurbished industrial packaging solutions for your fish production line. We can supply options from various brands to suit your specific packaging requirements in terms of package presentation and shelf-life needs. These include the following applications:

  • Tray sealing

  • Thermoforming

  • Horizontal Flow Pack (HFFS)

  • Vertical Flow Pack / Vertical Form Fill Seal (VFFS)

  • Stretch Film

Examples of what we at Boyd International can offer:

VC999 TS 300 Tray Sealer with MAP

ProSeal PR 30 Rotary Tray Sealer

Multivac R126 Packaging Machine

GEA Tiromat Compact (GEA PowerPak Uni) Thermoformer

ProSeal PR 30 Rotary Tray Sealer
ProSeal PR 30 Rotary Tray Sealer

We also supply tray / crate washers. See options below:

Jeros Crate Washer / Tray Washer 

Oliver Douglas Trayline 3 Industrial Washer to wash and rinse crates, boxes, baskets, lids, metal / plastic tray

Oliver Douglas Trayline 3 Industrial Washer
Oliver Douglas Trayline 3 Industrial Washer

Why choose Boyd International for your secondary processing requirements?

Boyd International can offer your business fish and seafood processing solutions from the source i.e. the fishing vessel, all the way to the shelf. Our team of highly specialised engineers have the expertise to equip the fish processing operations of processing plants of all sizes, in any part of the world, with used and refurbished machinery of the highest quality standard for a fraction of the new price tag, enabling processors to maximize their profitability.

Contact us today to discuss your specific machinery requirement.