Marinating milkfish. Photo by: Jonah van Beijnen
When the raw material arrives at the processing plant the fish are first graded. In all product lines the first processing step is the gutting and gilling of the fish. After this step some fish are frozen whole, while others are filleted and deboned. Especially the deboning procedure is a time and labour intensive practice. In some cases the product is then marinated after which they will pass through a blast or plate freezer. After this, the products are packed according to the specifications of the buyer and stored in a large cold storage.
Eight processing plants are accredited to export milkfish to the Eurpean Union. This small number can be explained by the relatively small size of the present export market. Milkfish products are mainly exported to buyers that target overseas workers and migrants from Southeast Asia. Although exports for this market segment are likely to continue to increase in the near future, milkfish opportunities in other market segments remain limited as the extreme amount of bones in these fish make the product of little interest to most markets.