Mackerel shelf life study

Project Overview Project Overview

Establishing a shelf life for fresh and refreshed mackerel (Scomber scombrus) products, processed and stored under different commercial conditions




Mackerel is the highest value wild caught export, worth €73 million in 2021. Typically, over 85% of mackerel is exported annually as a frozen commodity to several African, Asian, and European markets. In more recent years, a number of Irish pelagic processors have also processed and sold fresh mackerel domestically and occasionally exported small volumes of fresh product in whole, headed and gutted (H&G), and filleted formats. Fresh mackerel tends to command a premium over frozen, and customers are increasingly seeking consistent year-round supply, particularly for fillets. To satisfy these growing demands, some processors are importing fresh mackerel. In addition, domestic value-add customers are increasingly requesting frozen product from pelagic processors for subsequent tempering (defrosting) and processing for the retail market.


As market opportunities further develop for fresh and refreshed (defrosted) product, processors are increasingly being asked by their customers to provide associated accurate shelf-life data. In addition, the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) has been requesting that regular shelf-life testing be carried out by FBOs on samples of fresh and refreshed products to comply with their Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS).


In 2020 a number of Irish processors approached BIM seeking support to set up trials to determine shelf-lives for a variety of fresh and refreshed mackerel product formats. This report describes the relevant trials conducted and their findings.

Read the report here


For further information please contact

Pelagic Sector Manager

Dr. Michael Gallagher