Fish International 2018: Recap on three busy days

IntraFish is reporting live from the Fish International 2018 event in Bremen, Germany. Check here for the latest updates from the showfloor.

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 3.50 p.m. CET

Pelagia eyes growth through VAP

Norwegian pelagic group Pelagia, which is half-owned by fishing giant Austevoll, has “ambitions to grow", both in product offering and processing capacity, Rolf Kristian Vage, sales director at the group food department told IntraFish.

“We have a 40 percent share of the Norwegian pelagic catch, so we need to look at where we want to grow, but we are ambitious, especially about adding value to our products," Vage said.

The plan is to expand its marinated and fillet lines and reduce its focus on whole-round products in the short term. The company expects good prices of mackerel to continue from its most important markets, especially Asia.

“The markets are not oversupplied, and the demand is strong," Vage said. "We are now seeing that the gap in prices between the different sizes is not as big as it was last year."

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Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2.25 p.m. CET

BioMar tackles antibiotic usage with new diets

BioMar Spain -- which works with BioMar France on developing feed for marine species including sea bream, sea bass, meagre, turbot and trout -- is heavily focusing on the creation of diets that can reduce the use of antibiotics at all stages of the farming process.

“One of our main lines of research is the search of functional feed for marine species to reduce the use of antibiotic,” Rocio Alvaro, biologist and head of the commercial department at BioMar Spain, told IntraFish.

“This is an important issue that we are targeting, as the use of antibiotic is significant in the Mediterranean," she said. "In the long term we’re aiming for a full reduction of antibiotic with functional diets."

BioMar Spain produces 50,000 metric tons of feed for the domestic market a year. Currently the company has no growth plans for the region market but expects it to increase in the future.

“Aquaculture is growing in Spain, there is a lot going on and over time we will have to grow as well to supply the increasing demand," Alvaro said.

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Tuesday, Feb. 27 1.55 p.m. CET

Sea bream, bass prices soften

Greece's Selonda is seeing prices for sea bass and sea bream stagnate -- and even soften -- in certain markets in a period traditionally marked by stronger prices.

“At this time of the year, the water is already cold so the fish doesn’t grow, and demand in catholic countries in the run-up to Easter increases, which normally results in higher prices,” Basil Sudborough, export manager with Selonda, told IntraFish. “However, we are seeing that this is not the case, prices are flat in some markets, in Spain they are falling, and in the US and Canada the situation is worse than ever."

According to him, volumes coming out of Turkey could reach “unprecedented levels" this year.

“In the US and Canada they sell the 800-grams plus to prices at which I sell 400-gram sized fish, the difference is as high as €2 per kilo between Turkish and Greek products,” he said.

The Greek bass and bream sector is considering the creation of a marketing association to differentiate itself from competitors and to build a strong brand for consumers. However, the plans are still at a very early stage.

“Our product is better but when an importer brings in big volumes, the price difference means they can save a lot of money," Sudborough said. "We need to create a branding body, but this won’t solve the week-on-week problems we’re having."

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Tuesday, Feb. 27, 12.30 p.m. CET

Herring processors fear possible loss of MSC status

Herring processors are concerned a possible loss of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) status for the four certified fisheries in the Atlanto Scandian area in the Northeast Atlantic, could result in a number of retailers in Europe dropping the product.

The Norwegian spring spawning herring fishery; the ISF Norwegian & Icelandic herring trawl and seine fishery; the SPSG, DPPO, PFA, SPFPO & KFO Atlanto-Scandian purse seine and pelagic trawl herring fishery; and the Faroese Pelagic Organisation Atlanto-Scandian herring fishery will all undergo individual independent audits in the second half of April to determine whether the fisheries are managed in compliance with MSC standards.

"There are two problems in the area," Ines Biedermann, commercial manager for the MSC in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, told IntraFish.

"One is that the Institute of the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) found in September that herring stocks are declining, and the other is that the different countries operating in the fisheries have not reached any management agreements, which means they set individual quotas that surpass the total allowable catch recommended by ICES.

"Sustainable biomass levels and the common management measures in the area are two of the MSC pillars in terms of fishery certification," she said.

The herring processing industry is paying close attention to how the situation unfolds, as the blue stamp plays a very important role in contracts with retailers.

“This could be a big problem, if the fisheries lose MSC status it would mean the loss of contracts especially in Germany, which is one of our main markets,” Frans H. Kegge, director at Dutch processing group Haasnoot Fish Group, told IntraFish.

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Monday, Feb. 26, 5.52 p.m. CET

Trader: Salmon prices to rise through Easter

Norwegian salmon prices are expected to continue on an upward trend for the coming weeks through Easter, Svein Bruheim, member of the board at Norwegian salmon trading company Bravo Seafood, told IntraFish.

Low water temperatures at the moment mean slow salmon growth in the water, and smaller fish, while also a number of processing plants are temporarily closed to undergo maintenance and cleaning works.

On the other hand, the sea lice situation is improving thanks to the low temperatures, which will help the growth of fish and allow for good supply all in all.

"The prices in the medium and long term will depend a lot on the demand from China. At the moment not many farmers are exporting there, but if this changes then importers from China will get big volumes of large fish, and that will increase prices even more," Bruheim said.

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Monday, Feb. 26, 3.18 p.m. CET

Andromeda Spain -- the world’s first ASC meagre?

Amerra Capital-owned sea bream, sea bass and meagre farmer Andromeda plans to get Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification for its Spanish farms later this year, when the scheme is available.

This would make it the first meagre farm to get the eco-stamp.

“We will also get certification for bream and bass, but we are the only ones doing meagre so it will be an industry-first when we get this species certified,” Eduardo Soler, quality and environment control manager at Andromeda Spain, told IntraFish.

“We want to certify our farms in Greece as well, but that might take a bit longer,” he said.

According to him, the Mediterranean species will benefit from the certification scheme as customers in European markets are increasingly demanding it.

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Monday, Feb. 26, 2.55 p.m. CET

German salmon smoker recovers from 'disastrous' years

Dreistern is back to supplying its entire portfolio of customers after the high prices of 2016 forced it to stop selling to a number of them for more than six months.

At times, high raw material prices were not accepted by retailers and wholesalers, which resulted in a disastrous situation for the company.

“The problem is that producers cannot predict the prices, and they go up market-wide so you’re left with no other option but to raise your price too,” Heiko Frisch, managing director at the company, told IntraFish.

Dreistern has around 150 employees, and continues to produce hand-made signature salmon, both cold and hot-smoked. It is also introducing a convenience line to get closer to end-consumers.

Under its Fieldlers Fischmarkt brand it sells value-added products to both retailers and the foodservice market.

It is also pushing sales of a praline and salmon snack product, which it launched a year ago.

“Demand is increasing and we are adapting, but of course there are those customers who are driven by price," Frisch said. "We're focusing on the ones who are driven by quality."

The company has plans to add a new slicing machine to cope with rising demand and to achieve higher yields, but processing will continue to be mostly manual.

In 2016, the company’s turnover was €15.3 million.

“The market for salmon is good in Germany. If you have a good product and you develop relationship with clients there’s room to grow,” Frisch said.

Its main markets are Germany, Austria and Switzerland and for the time being the company is sticking to these countries as setting up logistics to export to new countries can be quite expensive. But it plans to increase its presence in Europe little by little.

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Monday, Feb. 26, 12.30 p.m. CET

ASC delays sea bream, sea bass standard

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) held a seminar on its newly developed sustainability scheme for sea bream, sea bass and meagre farmers in the Mediterranean, but could not launch the standard at the Fish International show as predicted.

The certification body started working on the scheme at the end of 2016, and has gone through all the phases including two rounds of public consultations, but it still needs the final approvals.

“There is nothing new in the standard itself, we have selected the ASC scheme for species farmed in marine cages, mainly salmon, seriola and cobia, and have taken the components of these programs that can apply to the Mediterranean species,” said Michiel Fransen, head of standards and Science with the ASC.

The scheme is expected to be available later this year, after finalizing a pilot project in which farmers from Greece, Turkey and Croatia have participated.

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Monday, Feb. 26, 11.43 a.m. CET

Spain's Fandicosta expands into US

Spanish frozen seafood processor is expanding beyond its natural market, western Europe, and into the east of the continent and the United States.

It is promoting value-added frozen products in Germany, although the market there is still not significant.

And it is currently in talks with US retailers which are already ordering production of swordfish and tuna frozen steaks as well as easy-peel and de-veined shrimp.

“We are trying to get to a common ground in terms of prices, the idea is to eventually do private label but for now we will pack our product under the retailers’ brands,” Agustin Verdes, export manager at Fandicosta, told IntraFish.

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Monday, Feb. 26, 10.30 a.m. CET

Stolt Sea Farm nabs former Pescanova turbot farm

Stolt Sea Farm now has a production capacity of around 7,000 metric tons of turbot a year, which makes up for more than half of the world’s turbot production, Vanessa Figueiredo, export manager at Stolt Sea Farm, told IntraFish.

Stolt Sea Farm is a few months into operating the farming site in Mira, Portugal -- formerly owned by Pescanova -- with the idea of giving the facilities continuity and better use.

The transition into the operations has gone well under the radar, with the company not giving further information on whether the facilities are now owned by Stolt Sea Farm or simply operated by them.

“We do not have an aggressive approach and the only thing we can say about this is that we plan to make good use of the space in line with our production strategy,” Figuereido said.

The company is moving toward a more consumer-friendly processing of the product, trying to offer the fish in the different varieties it allows.

“We’re leaders in the development of this fish, with our R&D we are producing better and better fish, it has many qualities and there is a market for it where we are very well positioned,” Figuereido said.

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Sunday, Feb. 25, 16.30 p.m. CET

Take the German market region by region

Scottish salmon farmer Loch Duart has firm plans to establish in the German market as well as Spain and Italy over the next five years.

With a niche product raised under the Label Rouge standards, Loch Duart exports one third of its production to the French market.

“The label is also known and well regarded in Germany, and the consumer here appreciates good quality salmon,” Mathew Hurst, who works in international sales with the company, told IntraFish.

As a small company that produces under 4 percent of the salmon output in Scotland, Loch Duart plans to deal with small retailers in Germany distributed throughout the country and covering the whole territory.

“It is not really in our interests to work with one big retailer, with our structure it is better to work individually in the different regions,” said Andrew Bing, sales director at Loch Duart.

One of the company’s particularities is its loyalty-based pricing scheme, they said, with very little volumes sold at spot prices, Bing added. Their strength is to offer consistent prices regardless of the market volatility.

“This helps us build strong relationships, our clients know we will maintain prices at the agreed level even when spot prices are higher, but they also accept that we don’t lower prices when the general trend goes down,” Hurst said.

In Spain, a market mainly supplied by Norwegian farmers, the company also sees a space for its salmon.

“We have offices near Barcelona to distribute the product and we’ve been in Conxemar, there’s interest in salmon raised at our standards,” Bing said.

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Sunday, Feb. 25, 12.30 p.m. CET

Cobia farmer inks deal with German smoker

Panama cobia farmer Open Blue Sea Farms entered a commercial agreement with German high-end fish smoker Wechslers to introduce the fish to German consumers.

Although 80 percent of the production of the Cologne-based smoking firm is salmon and trout, it has taken on the emerging farmed fish for its quality and the interest Open Blue is getting from different markets.

“It’s early to know how the sales of the product will go, because we are only introducing it now, but it is a very good fish and Open Blue has strong marketing and story to sell,” Felix Jansen, production manager at family-run Wechsler’s, told IntraFish.

The company is launching a 100 gram pack of smoked cobia for a retail price of €4.99 ($6.15).

“We think it is a competitive price, and it adapts very well to the German palate. It is not too fishy and it has a very meaty texture,” Remco de Waard, sales manager in Europe for Open Blue Sea Farms, told IntraFish.

The idea in Germany is not to “force the product into the market,” but to let demand develop and grow organically, de Waard said.

Since December 2017, Open Blue has Aquaculture Stewardship Certification (ASC), which opens doors in several countries.

“We have had a very positive feedback from German consumers, and the certification is a factor that buyers demand, it is going to open many markets,” de Waard said.

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Sunday, Feb. 25, 11.05 a.m. CET

Spain's Iberconsa targets German markets

Spanish fishing group Iberconsa is stepping away from traditional processing to enter new markets with adapted formats of two of its main products: Namibian hake and Argentinean shrimp.

In the German market, which is still not large for the fishing company, Iberconsa is introducing Cape hake fillets and portions processed in its Namibian factory, and both easy-peel and skin-less and deveined Argentinean shrimp.

“These formats are demanded by retailers, they are closer to what the final consumer wants and is more appealing to the German market,” Rodrigo Rodriguez, EU area sales manager at Iberconsa, told IntraFish.

The market is completely different to the Iberian market, where consumers are used to handling whole fish and eating head-on shrimp.

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Sunday, Feb. 25, 10.00 a.m. CET

Fish International 2018 kicks off

IntraFish is back in Bremen, Germany, where the seafood industry gathers every two years with the latest updates in products, packaging, marketing, processing, and consumption trends.

Messe Bremen, the event’s organizer, expects around 300 exhibitors from more than 20 countries.

At this year’s show, certification schemes will be a hot topic with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) giving a public presentation of the current status on its new seabream and seabass standard.

Check IntraFish live blog to stay up-to-date on all the seafood news from Germany.

Click here to see the full program.