All raw materials are inspected upon arrival and must be approved before continuing into the processing areas. For fillets, fish are first washed, then beheaded, gutted, filleted, skinned, trimmed, sized and classified, inspected for quality, frozen and packaged for export. For whole fish, the process is shorter. Most processors also provide different value adding options. Off-cuts from the production such as the head, the tail or skins are processed into fish meal and fish oil.
Processors engaged in tilapia production are mostly large operations with extensive experience in fish processing. They ensure that all necessary food safety and quality standards are met. Examples of such companies are Hoang Long, Vinh Hoan and NTACO. Their processing capacities are high and can reach as much as 180 tonnes of fresh fish per day. Many of the groups involved have more than one factory. In some cases these factories operate as a group, but in other cases individual factories can have seperate marketing and sourcing departments. Sometimes a factory can have multiple EU approval numbers. This is often the case when there are multiple processing workshops on the same premises. Each workshop needs its own EU approval number.