Big seafood supply changes are in the works this summer for Seabourn, a global cruise line. The company is switching out over half of its seafood products for more sustainable options as it races to meet a 100 percent sustainable sourcing goal by year’s end.
Which species and suppliers willl make the cut is yet to be revealed, but smoked salmon from farmed sources is safe, a company source told IntraFish.
The company serves a wide range of seafood on its six boats, which hold between 208 to 450 guests each -- shellfish, sea bream and salmon are some of the items the company currently features on its menus. Lobster is one of its most popular dishes, with 400 pounds of the crustacean served per week on Seabourn's Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest ships.
There are signs the company's interest in issues beyond its bottom line is not new. It made Ethisphere's list of the world's most ethical companies in 2012, along with Safeway, Whole Foods, Marks and Spencer, Target, Costco and Wegman's. Patagonia, which announced plans to start selling salmon jerky this year, also made the list.
Seabourn plans to release more on its plans for seafood supply changes to IntraFish in the coming months.
-- Jeanine Stewart
July 18, 9.55 a.m. GMT
Job ad hints at Pacific Andes China plans
Pacific Andes is looking for a marketing manager for China, giving an insight into its growth plans for branded seafood sale in Hong Kong and China.
A job advert for a marketing manager for Pacific Andes Enterprises, part of the wider Pacific Andes International Holdings group, gives an insight into the company’s plans to grow a seafood brand in China.
China and Hong Kong store set up, promotion and store image building
Handling product launches in China and develop strategies for branding
Brand building, brand promotion, brand portfolio and development
Corporate image alignment and branding guardian
The company is looking for an executive with a minimum of six to seven years in product marketing and communications, preferably in the food or seafood industry.
The applicant should also have “strategic judgement on design of product presentation, product display and retail stores design.”
The applicant needs to speak Mandarin, Cantonese and English and be prepared to travel, particularly to China.
The company did not return requests for comment.
-- Tom Seaman
July 17, 9.09 a.m. GMT
Outgoing HB Grandi CEO to government: Give industry chance
There is no doubt as to where Eggert Benedikt Gudmundsson, outgoing CEO of HB Grandi, stands on the current turmoil in Iceland over government focus on changing the way the fishing business is run.
The future for the industry “is as bright as it can get, if the government will give the industry a chance,” he said.
“Demand is high and growing for high quality seafood caught in a responsible way in the pristine seas around our beloved island. Only internal fights -- utterly useless -- can block our way to even better prosperity.”
On July 12, IntraFish reported Gudmundsson was on his way to a new role outside of the seafood industry.
On June 19, the parliament voted to increase the resource rent from the current amount paid by the industry of ISK 4.5 billion (€28.4 million/$36 million) to a new maximum amount of ISK 12.7 billion (€80.2 million/$101.7 million) to ISK 13.8 billion (€87.1 million/$110.5 million).
“The resource rent is limited to one year and during this time a panel of expert will review the impact on the industry. The resource rent for the industry is estimated to be 12 percent to 15 percent of EBITDA,” said Jon Stefansson, head of research with Marko Partners, a Reykjavik, Iceland-based, seafood-focused, consulting firm.
-- Tom Seaman
July 16, 9.20 a.m. GMT
Salmon farmer laughs off buyout offers
At present no single Norwegian player in the aquaculture industry is permitted to own more than 25 percent of the total quantity of fish that are in Norwegian fish farms.
Hans Petter Meland of Lovundlaks, a medium sized salmon farmer, doesn’t think much of this assessment.
“I think it’s a downright shame if this industry is to be owned by people that sit and twiddle their thumbs and gamble with money,” he told IntraFish.
“Norwegian politicians have worked hard for the past 30 to 40 years to make this a rural industry. If we follow the ESA’s request, we’ll be well and truly on the way to making this into a major international capital project,” he said.
Meland has received many inquiries from international finance institutions keen to acquire Lovundlaks.
“We have received more than 30 such inquiries since the New Year. The last one was dated July 2,” said Meland.
“No, we use them most as a means of entertainment,” he said with a grin.
Being able to adapt to the difference in regional markets is key for success in a country as vast as China, said a Spanish executive who has been based there for the last four years.
“China is a very big market, but the regions are very different from one another, and taste also changes, so if you want to be successful you need to adapt, otherwise it will be very hard to be present in the market,” said Jose Javier Fernandez, Shanghai-based Asia Pacific director for Froxa.
The potential in China is staggering, he told IntraFish.
Chinese factories are looking more and more to the home market, he said.
They are focusing now on China domestic market; some factories were 100 percent focus on export, now maybe they are only 60 percent for export and 40 percent for the domestic market.”
-- Tom Seaman
July 12, 2 p.m. GMT
Up and coming Asian players are 'an opportunity and a threat' to US, banker says
US companies looking for a buyer should keep their ears open for Asian companies they may not have heard of before.
These Asian companies are yet unknown in the US business world and “not your traditional Asian players,” Glacier Securities CEO Ignacio Kleiman told IntraFish. “Other players are coming on the market.” Kleiman has been talking with several Asian companies about opportunities to get a foothold in the US market.
These up-and-coming players have access to capital and are “looking to establish a sizeable and solid presence.”
“They want to move from being simple processors and suppliers from oversees to develop a solid foot in the US market,” Kleiman, an experienced seafood-focused banker, said. "This is both and opportunity and a threat to existing players in the US. The new potential entrants can strengthen some players’ market position through capital and more direct access to overseas resource, while they will likely become aggressive competitors in the medium-term."
As for other regions with acquisition opportunities, European companies are good candidates, as well as companies in the southern hemisphere, he said.
The southern hemisphere is also more productive than it was in the past.
Flexibility is key to getting the right acquisition, Kleiman said. “Many times, companies just want to have control, and while you may be able to get control, over time it is much more important to find the right partner -- and experienced, good, solid partner.”
“It has recently come to our attention that the fishing methods at this fishery do not fully meet our Fish for Life principles ...
“We’re in the process of withdrawing from the use of threadfin bream & using sustainable sources of Alaska Pollock instead.”
In a statement sent to IntraFish, the company expanded on this shift.
“The majority of surimi products sold across the world are made from whitefish species such as threadfin bream (Nemipterus spp.) captured by trawl fishing methods in South East Asian waters such as the Gulf of Thailand, the Andaman Sea and the South China Sea,” Mike Mitchell, technical and CSR director at Young's, said.
“In line with our Fish for Life programme, we regularly review our product portfolio and the fisheries we source from. As part of this process, we went into the field and investigated the threadfin bream fishery first hand.
“Our investigations highlighted a number of issues. The information gained from these investigations has enabled us to re-assess the sustainability status of surimi and, guided by our Fish for Life program, we have taken the decision to take action,” said Mitchell. “In line with our commitment to source more of our raw materials from MSC-certified sources, we have decided to reformulate all of our Young’s surimi products with sustainable, MSC certified Alaska pollock from the US.”
This process is currently underway, he said.
“Young’s never takes a decision to withdraw from a fishery lightly as we believe that in many cases, greater positive change can be achieved through on-going engagement – we have a detailed set of rules under our Fish for Life program which guides us in this decision making process. In this case, whilst we will continue to exert our influence with fishery managers in the region, the most appropriate course of action for Young’s Seafood is to switch to MSC-certified Alaska pollock.”
-- Tom Seaman
June 29, 13.50 p.m. GMT
Sajo Group, Dongwon potential buyers for Aussie abalone farmer
Sajo Group, a South Korean fishery and transportation company, is taking a closer look at Jade Tiger Abalone, to examine the possibility of a bid, MergerMarket reported.
Sajo Group has been looking to grow through acquisitions, focusing not only on fisheries but also companies in the livestock industry. It will have internal cash of KRW 63.9 billion ($54.8million) to fund potential buys after completion of the initial public offering (IPO) of its subsidiary Sajo Sea Food this month.
Dongwon Fisheries, a listed South Korean tuna giant, was tipped as a possible Korean suitor of Jade Tiger Abalone too.
The potential deal value of Jade Tiger Abalone is estimated to be around $20 million (€16 million).
Blackstone and BC Partners will not table a fresh bid for frozen foods group Iglo, leaving owner Permira in control of the subject of one of Europe's largest buyouts and eyeing a refinancing to pay itself a hefty dividend, people familiar with the situation said.
The decision by Blackstone and BC Partners not to come back with a higher offer ends the chances of what would have been the largest buyout of this year and underlines the fragility of new deals in what remains a patchy private equity deals market, reports Reuters.
Permira rejected BC Partners' and Blackstone's €2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) joint bid earlier this week, after it fell well short of the firm's €2.8 billion ($3.5 billion) price expectation.
Norwegian clipfish exporters are apprehending the impact of the economic recession in southern Europe for their sales.
After record exports in May, sales in June were at a low, exporters recently toldIntraFish's sister fishing publication in Norway, Fiskeribladet Fiskaren.
The comments echo those made by the Norwegian producer Nergard, which exports dried, salted and clipfish -- also called klippfisk/bacalao -- made from cod, saithe and haddock to Spain, Portugal and Italy.
In its annual report, Nergard says consumption of clipfish dropped by 13 percent in Portugal in 2011, causing storages to build up towards the end of the year. Saithe clipfish performed better it said, but a lack of raw material caused pressure on margins.
For 2012, it warned that the climate in Spain, Portugal and Italy could further affect purchases.
“The ongoing financial crisis in Europe and especially in southern Europe create significant uncertainty over the extent to which it is possible to obtain reasonable income in whitefish production in 2012,” the report said.
“There is high uncertainty in the markets and it is difficult to obtain acceptable sales agreements,” it said at another point. “The whitefish year 2012 could be exciting -- perhaps much more exciting than we like.”
The East Coast processing plant Trident is leasing from Capital Recovery Group is one of two plants that went up for grabs when Brooks Food Group went under.
A 78,000 square foot processing facility in Monroe, North Carolina, also became available at the time. Capital Recovery Group bought it from Brooks along with the Bedford, Virginia, plant Trident is leasing.
Capital has not done any advertising on the facility, but nonetheless, companies both inside and outside the seafood industry have expressed interest, Gary Katz, vice president of Capital Recover Group, told IntraFish.
"We have received a number of calls on Monroe," Katz said.
The Monroe plant is slightly smaller than the 90,000 square foot Bedford Plant but has similar processing capabilities:
It can process value-added chicken products and custom breaded, battered frozen specialty food products including meat, cheese and vegetables.
In response to questions on whether Trident considered purchasing the other processing plant, Marketing Director Randy Eronimous told IntraFish the company has no comment at this time.
Capital Recovery Group purchased all assets from Brooks Food Group, excluding the company itself. Those assets include real estate, machinery, equipment, intellectual property and raw materials both the Bedford and Monroe processing plants.
Trident purchased all of the Bedford assets, Martha Collier, Chief Financial Officer of Capital Recovery Group, told IntraFish.
Unlike suspensions, which are indefinite, ATQs are set for a period of three years at a time.
"So with an ATQ you don’t know what’s beyond the horizon; maybe you’re investing into something that will change in three years, you don’t know," Gus Pastoor, who heads the European association of fish processors, importers and exporters AIPCE-CEP, told IntraFish on Wednesday.
ATQs also encourage speculative buying, as processors rush to buy their raw material at the beginning of the year to avoid paying the 20 percent duty, he said.
Pastoor gave the example of tuna loins, which are subject to the 20 percent duty after the first 15,000 metric tons of imports.
"I think these amounts are exhausted in a few weeks’ time. So in January it’s already filled for the whole year -- because everyone wants to buy it," Pastoor said.
“So first of all you have uncertainty about the tariff you have to pay, because you could be too late. Second, you get speculation as people are buying huge amounts at the beginning of the year because they know they can get a low tariff. So it’s creating another point of uncertainty.”
The European commission is currently working on a final proposal that will determine ATQs, or tariff duties, for all seafood imported for processing into the EU. A decision could be imminent, although no date has been given.
I posted a comment on the articles in The Sunday Times and The Daily Mirror on cod being overfished and didn’t include all of the response from Phil MacMullen of Seafish, because I wanted to post it in full.
Here it is:
“On the same day I read, "Norway, Iceland cod stocks booming," "Cod will vanish in 10 years," "EU: fish stocks improving," and "EU...could decide whether species go on hurtling towards extinction."
“Whilst I could subscribe to much of the medicine prescribed in The Sunday Times ‘rescue agenda’ I fear that much of the diagnosis is based upon a rather muddled interpretation of the source material; hence the contrasting headlines with other publications.
“One very important principle is to look at trends over time rather than cherry pick averages or single year “snapshots.” Another is to acknowledge that just as ‘The last decade has seen a relentless succession of reports suggesting stocks of wild fish are in “catastrophic decline,” it’s also true to say that more scientifically-based reports have shown a series of success stories in better management and stable and rebuilding stocks.
“We do have problems, but we also have plenty of very effective solutions. The process of transition is usually political but the fishing industry also has a role to play.
“Where does this take us?
“Well the Commission’s own report manages to confuse ‘overfishing’ and overfished (they are quite different things) but even so the 10 year average of stocks overfished is 79 percent whereas the trend is strongly and consistently downwards and the level is currently 47 percent.
“But, for whatever reasons, we don’t have the data to assess the status of around 65 percent or our “managed” North East Atlantic stocks and that, extraordinarily, are on a rising trend!
“As we don’t have the resources to increase “scientific” assessment, this represents a great opportunity for fishermen to contribute data on the commercial and non-commercial catches that they take.
“The target of achieving maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2015 was caveated by the UN declaration with “where possible.” This recognises that the marine environment is complex, often unpredictable and fish don’t always behave themselves! Let’s keep the date in mind but be realistic and accept that the direction of travel is more important than a hard target.
“Likewise the strategy for banning discards: the hard targets for groups of species over the next few years also need to recognise that there are some fisheries that will require more patient application of technology and psychology over a longer timeframe.
“That’s not a cop-out, it’s a recognition of one of the Common Fisheries Policy’s current failings; prescriptive and centralised management. More sensitive local measures should be the preferred option.
“Finally, all the available evidence from areas about to be designated as conservation zones suggests that, even where levels of static gear fishing are high, those areas enjoy good conservation status and full ecosystem function. The case may be made for some “no-take zones” but if management measures are based upon evidence rather than assertion then these are likely to be the exception rather than the rule.”
Samherji CEO blasts Icelandic media article about Africa fishing
Thorsteinn Mar Baldvinsson, CEO of Iceland-based fishing and processing giant Samherji, says reports in the Icelandic media about his company‘s African fishing operations are incorrect.
“We are not making any comments to DV´s allegations. What is written in DV is more or less wrong and built on unsubstantial information,” he told IntraFish, in an email.
“There is no ship connected to Samherji currently fishing in Western Sahara´s waters. There was one ship, registered in Poland, with fishing rights negotiated between EU and Morocco, fishing very little in 2010 and 2011, just one ship,” said Baldvinsson. “That’s all we have to say about these matters.”
A translation of the story from DV can be seen below:
Samherji catching 30,000MT of mackerel in Namibia
Icelandic fisheries company Samherji acquired in February 30,000 metric tons of fish quotas off the coast of Namibia in southern Africa after Namibian authorities decided this year to increase quotas by 100,000 metric tons.
Samherji trawlers Heinaste and Sirius, registered in Poland, are fishing on the grounds, reports Icelandic newspaper DV.
Sirius left Las Palmas in the Spanish Canary Islands on May 22, to fish from fishing Walvis Bay, Namibia.
Samherji’s fishing off Africa is carried out through its subsidiary in the Canary Islands, Katla Seafood.
The company owns and operates eight factory trawlers engaged in fishing off the coast of West Africa, mainly off the coasts of Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania.
The main fish species Samherji harvests are horse mackerel, sardine and sardines.
Samherji is increasingly starting to look to other African countries, such as Namibia and Senegal, said DV.
According to DV, between 30 and 40 percent of Samherji’s income is derived from fisheries off West Africa, worth more than ISK 22 billion (€136 million/$168.7 million) in 2010, and DV points out that the profits from this fishery accrue therefore to an Icelandic company rather than to Namibia, a country that was still in receipt of overseas aid from Iceland until 2010.
-- Tom Seaman
May 21, 9:22 a.m. GMT
Broker raises Thai Union target price on expansion plans
A Thailand-based brokerage boosted Thai Union Frozen Products' target share price, on expectations the company will look for more deals in Europe.
Kasikorn Securities raised the target price for Thai Union to THB 64 (€1.6/$2) from THB 60 (€1.5/$1.9) with a neutral rating, on expectation the firm's expansion plan will help boost its yearly revenue.
Shares in Thai Union, the world's largest canned tuna producer, were trading at THB 71.75 (€1.8/$2.3), their lowest in nine days. The share price fell to THB 71.50 (€1.8/$2.3) at one point. The main Thai index was down 1.12 percent.
"We expect the company to grow its revenue by 13 percent to $3.7 billion during 2012 from its continued expansion in sardine and mackerel products," Kasikorn said in a research note, reports Thompson Reuters.
The broker also said the company previously raised THB 9.6 billion (€239.8 million/$307.1 million) in capital from its rights offering subscription, which is likely to be used to buy other seafood brands to enlarge its position in the global seafood market.
"We believe Thai Union Frozen wants to take advantage of the current slowdown in the European Union to acquire good assets," the broker said.
However, Kasikorn said it maintains Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF) as its preference in the sector due to Thai Union higher current trading price.
Shares in CPF were down 2.85 percent to THB 37.75 (€0.94/$1.2).
May 10, 9:22 a.m. GMT
'There is no ban on Indian exports to China'
Indian media are still abuzz with news of a Chinese ban on Indian seafood exports. However, industry players once again refuted this claim to The Buzz.
There is no need for Indian companies to halt exports to China because things are under control, secretary-general of Seafood Exporters Association of India, Elias Sait, told The Buzz.
“The relevant authorities are sorting out the procedures, and Indian exporters can still sell their products to China with no problems,” Sait said.
It appears the news was sparked by China’s decision to roll out a new health certificate form for Indian seafood exports.
Nayan Lodhari, marketing manager of Gujarat-based exporter Poonam Seafoods, told The Buzz companies have been given notice to fill out information for a new health certificate that was implemented by China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).
According to him, each consignment from India would have to be accompanied with this new certificate, and companies are starting to prepare for this.
He said it won’t be a problem for Poonam Seafoods, which sends 50 percent of its exports to China, because the company has already an EU-approved plant that follows strict standards.
Another trader confirmed that no ban was in place. "It takes time for changes in regulation to implement, but there have been no problems for Indian exports going into China," said a trader who declined to be named.
The new regulations implemented by AQSIQ will take effect on June 1 this year.
Russian Sea has also agreed to acquire the Russian fishing company Okeanrybflot and another group called LLC Sofko, said the report.
Russia is on national holiday until May 2, so The Buzz was unable to verify the reports or reach the companies for comment.
According to the Russian maritime shipping register, Okeanrybflot is based in Petropavlovsky-Kamchatskiy in the Russian Far East and owns 20 vessels, including four refrigerated cargo ships and 14 fishing boats (full list here).
The register shows two different results for Gidostroy -- according to one result, the group is based in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, also in the Russian Far East, and owns six vessels including three refrigerated cargo ships. The other result lists Gidostroy as based in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania, and owning two crane ships.
A UK fish and chip restaurant has reportedly become a huge hit with Chinese visitors.
The Regency Seafood Restaurant in Brighton, south England, has become hugely popular among Chinese tourists after a Chinese celebrity visited the shop and posted about it on the social networking site Renren, The Argus reports.
Chinese fans have now even created a Facebook page in tribute to the shop, and one visitor told the manager that the chippie had become “the most famous seafood restaurant in China,” the regional newspaper said.
Sanford is aware a Filipino relief chief engineer who served on the San Nikunau for a short time has entered into a plea agreement with the United States Department of Justice, the company said in a statement.
“Sanford has not seen the plea agreement and was not privy to his conduct nor would it have condoned his conduct,” the company said. “Sanford will continue to vigorously defend the allegations.”
This is the same court hearing the US Justice Department case against Sanford, owner of San Nikunau, detained last year in the territory by the US Coast Guard for allegedly discharging oily bilge into the waters of American Samoa.
Modeling on The Economist's Big Mac Index, the Financial Times has suggested a fishy alternative -- the Black Cod Index.
"Our chosen metric is the price of black cod with miso, a signature dish in all 30 of Nobu's restaurants worldwide," the UK newspaper said.
"We’ve chosen Nobu because it’s a kind of Hard Rock Cafe for the peripatetic global jetset, so should factor out social differences. And we’ve chosen black cod with miso because the raw ingredients cost approximately 25 cents no matter where they’re bought," it said.
The resulting price comparison shows that the Russian miso is the most expensive (150.3 percent overvalued), while the Bahamas one is the cheapest (13 percent overvalued).
The company is yet to confirm or comment. However, an alert on UK companies registry Companies House popped up just now to state Duncanson's status as a director of Farne, a supplier to retail giant Tesco, has been terminated.
-- Tom Seaman
April 13, 11:30 a.m. GMT
Russian salmon, Pacific Andes threats: pawns in wider game?
“Today Sergey Dankvert, the head of Rosselhoznanzor, said he had received bad analysis’ results for 15 Norwegian plants and said that either NFSA would have to shut them, or Rosselhoznanzor would shut off everybody. I will not be surprised if those 15 are not key partners of the top importers such as Russian Sea,” this source told The Buzz.
Then there are wider geo-political factors --“Russian politicians are just playing a game with Norway in fishing, but also in oil and gas etc. The salmon import ban is just a joker in this game,” this source said -- and finally, domestic politics. “Dankvert is trying to garner some political capital before re-appointments take place in our government.”
According to this same source, that threat could just be a way for Andrey Krainiy, the head of the Russian Fisheries Federal Agency, to ruffle his feathers ahead of the political reshuffling expected to take place after Vladimir Putin takes over again in May.
“There is speculation over whether Krainiy will keep his post in the new government that Putin will put together. It’s the same everytime a new government is formed here: agencies are in the process of determining who will stay in power after Putin becomes president, and so everyone is trying to make noise and show off their power to win Putin’s favors.”
Thai Union: Big potential for canned tuna in China
The Chinese market for canned tuna is currently small, but has massive potential, said Thiraphong Chansiri, president of Thai Union Frozen Products.
Thai Union has the number one tuna brand in China -- Century -- in a joint venture (JV) with Philippines-based Century Canning.
Although tuna is considered a main staple for western consumers rather than Asians, the company has not overlooked the commercial potential of the mainland Chinese market and is keeping abreast of market developments, said Chansiri.
“With the emergence of more western restaurants, namely sandwich chains and pizza chains, consumption is picking up,” he told The Buzz. “Currently, it also becomes more broadly accepted by local rice and noodle eaters. Therefore, the potential demand of tuna in China is too big to be ignored.”
The same market development happened in Taiwan and South Korea, he said.
Thai Union is looking to educate consumers in China about the benefits of eating tuna and introducing recipes using tuna as the main ingredient to locals, he said.
“Also, we have to provide the best quality products to the market as well as performing as a good strategic supplier to industrial users, such as restaurant chains. New product developments, which would adapt to local flavors and formats, will also be another important strategic move.”
Tuna is essentially positioned as a healthy source of protein with strong product integrity on food safety and actually a very convenient diet.
The JV with Century Canning was started in 2004. Thai Union is the world's largest tuna canner, with Sea Value, also based in Thailand, in second place.
Demand for shrimp in China, Thai Union’s second most important product category, is booming, he said.
“Due to higher shrimp consumption among the Chinese, China has however turned to become a shrimp-importing nation. Thailand’s export of shrimp products to mainland China is anticipated to be constantly higher.”
-- Tom Seaman ------------------------------------------------
Krainiy will spend four days in Beijing and Dalian next week, the Rosrybolovstvo spokesperson said.
The spokesperson did not say who Krainiy will visit or what the purpose of the trip is. However, the trip comes only days after the agency said it would investigate Pacific Andes, the owner of China Fishery Group, over its alleged ownership of Russian pollock quotas.
Krainiy will "maybe" speak about this issue during his trip, the spokesperson said, adding that more details will come out soon.
This actually had the opposite effect to the one intended, Joy told The Buzz.
“We were contacted by customers from all around the world, giving us support,” said Joy. “That was actually rather nice.”
As for dealing with Staniford, Joy said dialogue is not even possible.
“Don is a paid anti-salmon farming campaigner,” he said.
See below for more on Staniford’s latest efforts.
-- Tom Seaman
April 10, 3:52 p.m. GMT
The Don of anti-salmon farm campaigning hits out at Loch Duart
Don Staniford, the anti-salmon farming campaigner deported from Canada recently, hand delivered a letter to the headquarters of UK salmon farmer Loch Duart, in protest at its plans to set up in his former adopted home.
The letter, from Karen Elfendahl-Taetz and Karin Cope of the Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore, said:
"80-90 percent of the citizens of the Eastern Shore are against Loch Duart coming here.”
Staniford, famous for his flowing locks and exhaustingly enthusiastic pursuit of the salmon farming sector on both sides of the Atlantic, had vowed to target Norway and the UK, where he was born, after being deported in February.
Click here for more, from The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture blog.
-- Tom Seaman
April 10, 3:52 p.m. GMT
Lion moots shelling out further £80 million keep Findus afloat, reports The Grocer
Lion Capital is pondering a further £80 million (€96.9 million/$126.9 million) to pay down debts in Findus Group after last week’s €22.8 million ($29.9 million) cash injection, The Grocer understands.
Findus averted a breach of its covenants in the final quarter of 2011 following the private equity backer’s cash injection, and after negotiating with lenders to waive certain financial covenants relating to the fourth quarter of in 2011.
US canned seafood company Crown Prince is looking to Mexico for expansion opportunities. The company, which launched two new sardine products last week, sees more opportunities to sell its canned products south of the border.
"What sparked the interest (in Mexico) for us is the conventional grocery in the US is really a fading part of the market," Manager of the Natural Product Division of Crown Prince Seafood Andrea Linton told The Buzz.
"A tremendous amount of grocery sales is done in stores like Costco and Walmart. Business in places like QFC, Safeway -- that sort of thing, that type of conventional grocery store -- is actually doing less and less business."
CEO Martin Glenn has pledged to take his team with him if Iglo Foods Group changes hands, reports The Grocer.
Private equity owners Permira instructed Credit Suisse to put the group, Europe’s largest frozen food operator, on the market with a price tag of €2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) to €3 billion ($3.9 billion), after private equity companies reportedly expressed an interest in the group.
With trade buyers also likely to be interested in the Iglo group, Glenn vowed to stay on “irrespective of the capital ownership of the business.”
The group completed its first sea-freight shipment from Chile to Miami in late February, containing fresh fillets from three large Chilean suppliers produced in late January, the company’s president and founder Larry Bell told The Buzz.
This shipment should go a “long way towards confirming that the industry does indeed have a new fresh logistics option,” he said, adding that a trial to Japan could be in the works.
“We are now 100 percent focused on Chile,” GFF’s CEO Stephen Boord said -- although the eventual aim, he added, remains to be global.
Cunningham, who has been with the Macrae group for 23 years, said his experience of running the Livingston plant, a dedicated supplier for Waitrose, means he feels he can offer something to Macduff.
The idea of bringing shellfish to a wider range of consumers through product development and new processing technology was partly what made the new role attractive, he told The Buzz.
“We can grow the business to the next stage. There is a lot of opportunity in shellfish,” said Cunningham.
“Also, It will be nice to work for a family business that has been built up over many years,” he said.
Cunningham will start with Macduff, which is based in Mintlaw, on April 23.
“I will miss my team at Macrae, they have been fantastic to work with. I am proud of what we achieved with the plant. But it is exciting to have the chance to do it all again, but with shellfish,” he said.
"The consultations at all three former Cumbrian Seafoods sites [Seaham, Whitehaven and Amble] are ongoing and no decisions have been taken at this stage," a spokesperson told IntraFish.
The spokesperson did not give a timeline on when these decisions -- which could part or all of the sites' production shifted to Young's Seafood factories, affecting up to some 500 employees -- are likely to be made.
The good news for suppliers to the United States and Europe is a lower price point will enhance cod’s standing in the protein market, the source told The Buzz.
“We’re competing with chicken and meat and whatever, so I think it's good thing,” the source said.
And recently, it has not competed very well. In the United States, seafood was the only food category not to grow in sales during the year leading up to August 2011, having decreased by 1.7 percent from the prior year, according to data from Perishables Group.
“This is in good balance, and, of course, if we talk about seafood as a whole, it’s really good that people can get cheap seafood and gradually grow their way into more expensive (seafood) every once in a while,” the source said, adding that an even lower price would be even better, although the most important concern is that prices do not go the other way. “I just hope that they won’t go to the same level they were before. It was far too high. Stability is good.”
Andreas von Paleske, a director of Lion Capital, has been appointed as a director at Young's Seafood, the UK arm of Findus Group (owned by Lion).
"Findus Group has a number of subsidiaries, which Andreas von Paleske has been appointed to in order to formally recognise the current governance structure we have in place," Young's told The Buzz in a statement.
Young's remained vague about von Paleske's appointment and role, but said he has been involved with the business since Lion first bought Findus (at the time Foodvest).
Von Paleske has an MBA from Harvard Business School and was previously employed by Warburg Dillon Read in London where he served in the Energy & Power Group.
An analyst in Norway seems to agree with his London-based counterpart.
Marine Harvest seems to have a need to show it can start its own feed production if feed margins are “too” attractive, said Geir Kristiansen, senior equity analyst with SpareBank 1 Markets.
“It is, however, not likely that Marine Harvest will carry this through, since the investment does not seem very attractive,” he told The Buzz.
Given an EBIT margin of 5 percent the return on invested capital (ROIC) is about 8.5 percent if we assume a total investment of NOK 1.7 million (€224,172/$299,360). It will certainly destroy the dividend case for the foreseeable future.
It cost Ewos NOK 570 million (€75.2 million/$100.4 million) to build a 120,000-metric-ton plant in 2009 and a further 120,000-metric-ton would cost an estimated NOK 190 million (€25.1 million/$33.5 million), he said.
Given that Marine Harvest is able to do the same, a 500,000 metric ton plant would cost about NOK 1.2 billion (€158.2 million/$211.3 million) in investments plus working capital -- about NOK 500 million (€65.9 million/$88 million) -- said Kristiansen.
The idea is interesting and supports the business model of Cermaq and Bakkafrost, said Henning Steffenrud, equity research, with Swedbank First Securities.
Cermaq operates feed division Ewos, in addition to fish farmer Mainstream. Faroe farmer Bakkafrost recently acquired a feed company, Havsbrun.
If the establishment is successful and Marine Harvest is able to capture the expected synergies -- keeping the feed margins in-house -- the strategy makes sense in the long-term perspective, Steffenrud told The Buzz. “From a stock market perspective, we need much more specific information before concluding.”
Although the company now is considering integrating feed into its value chain such a move entails significant investments in plants and research and development, in addition to operational risks, said Kjetil Lye, an analyst with Handelsbanken Capital Markets. “It will be interesting to see how management concludes on this issue when a more detailed study has been completed.”
Thai giant will process more of its own farmed shrimp
Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF), the Thai agribusiness giant and the world’s largest shrimp farmer, is processing more of its own raw material in its value-added plants.
The single largest shrimp farming group in Thailand CPF, used to supply a considerable volume of their raw material harvest to the market, said Jim Gulkin founder of Bangkok-based frozen supplier Siam Canadian Group.
“However they currently supply much less into the market for other processors, as their own value-added plants have been absorbing more and more of the harvest,” Gulkin toldThe Buzz.
CPF is using larger volumes of shrimp in processed items, such as its wanton soup products, but that is not all.
“It is likely that they will increase their own production this year of standard commodity shrimp items --such as EZ peel, CPTO, peeled and de-veined (P&D)."
“The potential sale or IPO of Iglo is driven more by the desire of its financial sponsor to finally realize a profit on its investment than any refinancing pressure.
“But if the sale does not go ahead the company will need to start considering options to address its 2013 and 2014 refinancing needs.
“It has been widely reported in the press that Iglo's owner, Permira, has appointed advisors to explore possible sale options. Iglo's un-drawn revolving credit facility, plus the relatively small unamortized portion of its Term Loan A mature in October 2013. The group's larger Term Loan B matures in 2014. We rate Iglo Foods Midco Ltd, the rated entity of the group, 'B+' with a Stable Outlook. A sale now makes sense.
“The financial markets are generally more optimistic than they were three months ago. This should boost the company's valuation and help make both equity and debt financing easier. Also, Iglo has outperformed many of its competitors in the packaged and frozen food sectors.
“In the current market climate it is hard to see Iglo having difficulty refinancing its debt. But with the market volatility we have seen since 2008 nothing can be taken for granted.
“As it stands, Iglo could cover its 2013 maturities with balance sheet cash, but we believe it will need to lock in refinancing before the 2014 Term Loan B matures. Iglo's story is, from a financial perspective at least, evidence of what happens when an LBO works.
“Permira has owned Iglo since 2006, longer than typically planned for an LBO due to the limited exit strategy opportunities presented during the last few years. The company instead adopted a build-and-buy strategy, most recently acquiring the Italian frozen food division of Findus Italy from Unilever. Since the purchase in 2010, which resulted in Iglo's leverage spiking to 5.7x, the group has managed to de-lever.
“We forecast net debt to EBITDA will improve to about 4.0x at the end of 2012. The environment for packaged food producers is characterized by stable underlying demand but offset by continuous pricing pressure from supermarkets.
“Iglo's strong brands have allowed it to outperform the frozen food sector, giving it the strength to pass on increased input prices via supermarkets to customers.
“Management will have to stay on their toes to maintain this advantage as we do not expect keen competition from private label and chilled produce makers to disappear.
“Also, the flip-side of frozen food's resilience in an economic downturn is its limited potential to benefit in an upturn because in some markets, particularly the UK, frozen food is seen by consumers as a low-cost option. Iglo's strategy involves an attempt to change this deep-seated perception.”
The comments are from Caryn Trokie, of the company's New York ratings unit.
The pessimists will have been proven right -- a failure to reach an agreement over mackerel catches in the North East Atlantic means mackerel players will see their Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certificate suspended at the end of the week, on March 31.
It is the first time that an MSC certificate is suspended due to the failure of a multi-country stock agreement, the MSC spokesperson James Simpson confirmed to The Buzz.
In addition to the large Dutch, Norwegian, Danish and Scottish pelagic freezer trawler groups such as Norway Pelagic, Parlevliet & Van der Plas and W. Van der Zwan & Zn, the suspension will affect a myriad of smaller fishing companies and processors. Another 110 MSC label license holders will also lose their license for mackerel as a result.
The MSC has stressed that the suspension does not translate into a loss of the license and that companies will be able to be re-instated into the program if an agreement is found.
"We will welcome the opportunity to re-instate these fisheries’ certificates once agreed mechanisms are in place to ensure that mackerel catches are at sustainable levels," Nicolas Guichoux, Europe Director of the MSC, had said in a statement in January.
On Thursday, a nephrops fishery which had entered into the MSC program under the umbrella of the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group announced it would exit.
James Simpson, a spokesman for the MSC, said this does not mean a drop in commitment.
“Naturally we are sorry to see the SFSAG withdraw its nephrops fishery from the assessment process. However, we are glad to see the SFSAG reiterate its commitment to MSC certification,” he told The Buzz.
“The SFSAG has been a stalwart supporter of the MSC in Scotland: its saithe fishery is in full assessment and its haddock fishery -- increasingly popular with Scotland’s fish and chip shops – has been MSC certified since October 2010.”
Greenpeace Canada said it would unveil the "leaders and laggards" of the Canadian canned tuna industry on Monday, March 26.
The list, which will rank 14 companies, is the NGO's second annual canned tuna sustainability ranking.
"The ranking identifies Canadian companies leading and lagging on sourcing greener tuna," the NGO said.
"Greenpeace has assessed, scored and ranked 14 companies with well-known canned tuna brands based on the overall sustainability and equitability of their tuna procurement practices and policies."
The ranking release "coincides with a meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Guam next week, where member countries will discuss management measures to address the overfishing of bigeye tuna and ensure yellowfin tuna stocks are managed sustainably," it said.
Real talk from retail exec: 'Species come and go, industry motors along'
One US retail executive, who didn’t want to be quoted by name, said the way species come and go is “kind of sad.”
Speaking with reference to tuna, the executive said the fish is cheap compared to halibut, a species “that until five to six years ago benchmarked closely with tuna.”
As a result, more tuna is appearing on American supermarket shelves.
“Tuna has already become a higher profile purchase preference for the American consumer,” he told The Buzz.
“As costs of other seafood commodities such as the aforementioned halibut and others such as black cod continue to climb, tuna replaces them on the supermarket shelves,” said the executive.
“It’s part of the cycle of exploitation in the marketplace. Popular wild species come and go over time. Twenty-five years ago, Greenland turbot was the darling. Then there was cheap orange roughy for awhile. Halibut had its time in the sun. There were also sea bass, dory, monkfish, perch, snapper, grouper -- all exploited until they became scarce and then fell out of favor due to the expense of procurement or the status of endangered species -- often both.”
“It’s kind of sad, in a way,” he said. “We really should be better stewards of our industry.”
The executive gave a frank assessment of the reality of the way things work.
“There is just so much biomass out there and as an industry we are maximizing whatever we can to generate sales at the price levels demanded by the public,” he said. “It seems flippant to say it, but species come and go while the business motors along.”
Linnaeus Capital Partners -- the private equity group that owns Aqua Bounty and Anglesey Aquaculture -- is working on an aquaculture acquisition in the United States through its aquaculture arm Tethys Ocean, The Buzz has learned.
The target company is an aquaculture R&D company and a deal could be announced next week.
Tethys is currently in the midst of a takeover offer for Dias Aquaculture and owns stake in two other Greek seabass and seabream leaders, Selonda and Nireus. It also recently took over Selonda UK from administration, renaming it Anglesey Aquaculture.
Today saw the launch of yet another anti fishing industry report in which the actual facts are faintly visible but in which abstract figures are used to generate a headline which attempts to further sway public opinion against the fishing sector.
Oceana’s statement that “82 percent of species exploited by the European Union fleets are not subject to catch quota limits” indeed seems shocking as a standalone comment – until, that is, one reads closer and learns that the species referred to are mainly very lightly fished Mediterranean species as well as western water species such as squid and conger eels.
But the pre-emptive strike is in the headline and is intended to shock -- but not to educate.
The aim once again of anti industry groups such as Oceana is in clear evidence, as they avoid mentioning the fact that almost ALL of the regular species fished by European Union fleets are naturally regulated under very strict quotas.
All whitefish and pelagic species that are targeted by the EU fleet are closely monitored and quota regulated – but Oceana chose to neglect looking at these species and instead focused on mullet, cuttlefish, shrimp, octopus and croaker which they say “are among the 686 species for which there are currently no management measures specifying limits on catches and fishing effort. This equates to 31 percent of the total catch.”
Once again, the old mantra of never letting the truth get in the way of a good story seems alive and well…
This news, broken by IntraFish from an email sent around the company by In-soo Cho, president and CEO of Starkist, has seen other US executives at the company "reaching out" to contacts in the business looking for a new roles.
Several top executives who were there before Starkist was bought by Dongwon have already moved on, including former CEO Don Binotto, now CEO of Contessa Premium Foods.
There is so much American management leaving and "probably even more so after this announcement," a source told The Buzz.
The move by Dongwon shows "no trust in the American management team," he said.
There have been issues with the culture clash between the American team and the Korean owners, sources told The Buzz.
The appointment of Cho in March 2011 was clearly a move to bridge this. Korean born but also partly educated in the US, Cho has worked for multinationals such as Procter & Gamble, Yum Restaurants International and Pizza Hut on four continents and is seen as seasoned and charming global FMCG executive.
Quite how Cho will react to the appointment of Nam-jung Kim, son of Dongwon Industries Chairman Jae-chul Kim, to the newly created position of chief operating officer (COO) at Starkist remains to be seen.
NJ Kim will oversee the “support plan” being implemented at Starkist and “will also lead continued growth and expansion of Dongwon-StarKist global business,” said the email from Cho.
The Buzz contacted Starkist for clarification on the new structure and where the chairman's son will fit in and was told Cho is traveling and will be available for interview next week.
A source, familiar with both Starkist and Dongwon, said the move was not unexpected, but the scale of the changes is surprising.
Dongwon has a strategy to go "back-to-basics" on fish buying and move closer to boat owners, said the source.
Several of the Korean executives transferring over to Pittsburgh are to focus on buying, so this is clearly a move to fast-track this strategy.
We’ve seen plenty of meat-free meat - and even fish-free fish - now it’s the turn of the prawn-free prawn.
Vegetarian-friendly shrimp - the latest innovation from the Linda McCartney brand - are made from whey protein, potato starch and natural colorings and flavorings, reports The Grocer.
Rolling out next month, they were “very similar” in texture to real shrimp, and were high in protein and a good source of fiber, claimed the company.
The first two lines to be launched would be plain Fish Free King Prawns (rsp: £2.50 (€3/$3.9)) and Fish Free King Prawn & Vegetable Stir Fry (rsp: £1.89 (€2.3/$3)), but the company said it was already looking at further ways to use the shrimp and that other products were in the pipeline for launch later this year.
Confusion is swirling around which eco-labels are right for which retailers.
Questions inundated the Marine Stewardship Council's Kerry Coughlin and Global G.A.P.'s Kristian Moeller at the Boston seafood show.
"Producers are getting fed up with duplication of different standards," Moeller, president of the North America division, told The Buzz, "and some buyers might ask for something, but they don't really know what the implications are of asking for that."
A series of programs will then be broadcast on television, highlighting the "wasteful fishing practices which have led to half of all the fish caught in the North Sea being thrown back dead into the sea," according to the site.
Close to 800,000 people have now given their support to the campaign.
-- Tom Seaman
March 13, 12.47 p.m. GMT
Greenpeace in the wrong, says vessel operator spokesman
"We reject the actions and allegations by Greenpeace. Apart from the fact that the Greenpeace actions lead to unsafe situations at sea for which we do not want to be held responsible, we are fishing legally under the European Union (EU) fisheries agreement with Mauritania based on a fully controlled fishing license and quota system.
"If Greenpeace has problems with the Common Fisheries Policy, they should direct themselves to the policy makers in the EU and not aggressively target the operations of vessels that make legal use of fishing opportunities agreed between the Mauritanian government and the EU."
Also in limbo are the ongoing job consultations of more than 500 employees working across Cumbrian's factories in Seaham, Whitehaven and Border Laird -- since Lion cannot make any substantial changes to key staff during the investigation.
One reader, however, pointed out that our story forgot to mention another development at Cumbrian: the voluntary departures of several staff. "The only aspect not covered is the number of people leaving of their own accord," this reader, a former Cumbrian executive, told The Buzz.
Those holding on for redundancy are likely to be the ones who served long, but based on Cumbrian's notoriously high turnover rate -- where one year of service is considered a long time -- these are likely to be few and far between.
As our source said: "The long servers seem to be sticking around for what they hope to be big redundancy pay-offs, which are partially tax free, but Cumbrian didn't have that many long stayers!"
The news followed Russian Sea's appointment of NBAMR's former CEO Peter Savchuk to lead Russian Sea's -- as yet non-existent-- 'Far East fishing activities.'
Russian Sea, however, remains tightlipped about its intentions. When a journalist with IntraFish's media partner in Russia, Rybatskaya Gazeta, got in touch with Savchuk in Vladivostok, Savchuk said nothing new, commenting that it was too early to give out any details.
Jan Kaptijn, managing director of Seafood Connection, a Dutch pangasius buyer, compared what is happening in pangasius prices – where there is change in the industry, but prices are stable -- to Alaska pollock.
“The US is looking for higher prices -- lower quota, higher energy costs, higher overall costs and a good surimi market, whilst the European industry is looking for lower prices – due to a higher dollar rate, high stocks, the European crisis,” he said.
Now Boston is underway, it seems prices have been settled at the same rate as last B-season, he said.
“With pangasius it's about the same. But please understand prices have been decreasing already with about 10 percent in the last six months of 2011. Of course the Vietnamese companies are looking for higher prices but as long as the markets do not support what’s happening?"
One of the reason prices are getting more and more stable is the vertical integration we have seen in the last years, whereby the main processors have also become the main farmers.
Moreover even some of the less big processors are controlling the whole process from fingerling breeding via farming to the final processing.
So, we do not see the big fluctuations in price anymore like in the past which were mainly initiated between the fight between farmers and processors. Now it's all more balanced.
Last but not least, in the recent years, the retail market for pangasius has become more and more important.
Having in mind that those companies are looking for long term contracts and stable partners this is also given less fluctuations in the market price.
In 2012, local farmers plan to export 600,000 metric tons of pangasius, equal to 2011 plan according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
“Growth needs to come from other markets then Europe for this year. However, we see the German retail market is picking up the last few weeks after the drop in 2011,” he said.
Sources of mine I met at the show in 2011 seem to be more confident on the US economy than last year.
"The buzz is more positive than last year," Chuck Anderson, of Boston-based Sousa Seafood, told The Buzz.
"Sales are good, and the economy has every feeling better. Big players are trying to lock up long term contracts and guarantee supply of wild species," he said.
"Tuna is a good example of a short market, but packers can't guarantee enough supply," said Anderson. "Many buyers are looking for good value-added fresh and frozen seafood. I also hear buyers are looking at steady supply and pricing for value frozen products such as pangasius, tilapia and salmon."
Friend of the Sea to Dongwon: Take lead on stopping shark fining
Paolo Bray, director of eco-label certification body Friend of the Sea, called upon Starkist CEO In-Soo Cho to take the lead on stopping shark fining.
In an open letter sent to The Buzz, Bray said he hopes the CEO of the Dongwon Industries US subsidiary will use his chairmanship of the Infofish Tuna 2012 to take a stance on shark fining.
the full letter is below:
"Dear Mr In-Soo Cho,
We are glad to learn you will be Chairperson of Infofish Tuna 2012.
We believe this will be a unique opportunity to inform the international audience about your Group’s engagement to stop cutting, selling and trading shark fins and ensure humane treatment of you crew, according to ILO’s conventions.
Your group’s engagement in this sense would motivate also other shark fining companies to engage at stopping this wasteful practice, which is often a consequence of crew’s mistreatment.
Your decision would save hundreds of thousands of sharks every year, prevent their extinction and provide hundreds of families with a more decent life and respect of their human rights.
We look forward with hope to Infofish Tuna 2012. You could make this event really memorable and Dongwon/Starkist could become real leaders in sustainability and social accountability.
Dutch pangasius pioneer: we’re bigger than fish fingers
The Netherlands-based importer Queens Products was the first company to start bringing in pangasius for sale in retail in its home market,.
“This year it is 10 years ago that we introduced pangasius -- I did not like the name pangasius that much so I changed it from the beginning into panga -- on the Dutch retail market,” said Harry Hoogendoorn, its managing director.
“We were the first company to introduce panga in the retail market,” he told The Buzz, from the North Atlantic Seafood Forum.
“Now Queens panga is now the number one frozen seafood product on the Dutch market, bigger than Birds Eye/Iglo fish fingers,” he said.
Queens only deals with one supplier in Vietnam, Vinh Hoan. “We haven’t bought one kilo from elsewhere,” he said.
Frozen seafood and value-added elements, such as breading, coating or sauces, could emerge in 12 months in a new build project.
"Phase one is to get up and running with fresh white fish, salmon and shellfish, with phase two looking at frozen and added value, our other fish offerings we have got within the business that we can bring in house,” said Rob Smith, who will run the operation, along with Howard Sims. "All that is for the future though, the number one priority is to get phase one up and running and bedded in."
"This time next year we will be much more focused on what more we can do,” said Sims.
Nissui seeks to make best use of vertical integration
The top US executive from Japanese giant Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui) says the company is trying to make the best use of its vertical integration, which is different to the approach taken by some companies.
Nissui is integrated in the US in a way that is different to, say, Trident Seafoods or Pacific Seafood Group, two other large US seafood businesses.
Trident and Pacific both have all its operations under one management team. Nissui’s approach is different, with managers in its Gorton’s, Unisea, F.W. Bryce and King and Prince Seafood arms in the US all working independently on their own businesses.
“We have to try and make the best use of our vertical integration,” he told The Buzz.
“We, as a group, are integrated, but not in the way other companies with a single management structure for the whole supply chain are,” he said.
“We have the benefits of each part focusing on their respective strengths, which may not be as streamlined as having everything under one roof, but certainly calls for each link in the supply chain to be very competitive in order to satisfy a large proportion of third party customers, those that are not associated with the group,” said Kuntzsch.
Each link is free to source from other suppliers too, which creates healthy competition amongst its global links – what Nissui calls its overseas operations – said the executive.
“Naturally, we try to add as much value to group-owned resources as possible and therefore keep raw materials within our group as far down the supply chain as possible,” he said. “Also, we have access to resource all over the world.”
The Buzz heard about the article and got a source in the area to buy it, who then summed it up in an email:
"It says 'if the news is confirmed as expected' Morrisons will open new modern seafood plant on the site vacated by Kwoks Chinese food factory, on the Europarc. It is expected to employ up to 250. New owners expect to open before Autumn."
The Buzz understands the "new owners" will be Morrisons, who are looking to vertically integrate on fish processing, as they are on meat and vegetables.
Well, Jim Gulkin of Siam Canadian Group, who's Vietnam manager sent IntraFish the comments for today's story, is unsure.
"Last week I was very confident that prices will fall," he told The Buzz. "This week Indonesian farmers are now resisting lower prices. Thai prices are a little soft but not moving down to levels that would match prices from other origins."
If the Vietnam farming problems increase then that could stem a price drop, he said. "If the problems are localized then my bet is still that prices will soften."
-- Tom Seaman
Feb. 27, 13:44. p.m. GMT
Hong Kong startup targets frozen-at-sea fillet sale
The former China-based executive from a New Zealand seafood group is going it alone, with a new venture.
Daniel Lin, who was representing Oceania Seafoods in China, has got some private equity backing and has started up on his own.
Ocean Kingdom Seafood is the name of the new company that Lin told The Buzz will supply wild-caught frozen at sea fish to the processing industry and wholesalers.
“The first overseas offices will be set up in Norway and the Philippines,” said Lin.
He plans to exhibit at the China Seafood and Fisheries Show this year and make his Brussels seafood show debut in 2013.
Polestar Capital is the private equity giving Lin backing.
Didier Boon, a Belgian who runs Beijing, China-based East China Seas, has to cope with the dramatic increases in wages for Chinese workers.
As the minimum wage increases, so does the actual wage that seafood companies such as East China Seas has to pay.
“As far as seafood companies are concerned, and where there is a big competition for workers, wages can be CNY 3,500 (€413.2/$555.5),” he told The Buzz.
“To give you another example: in my company in Beijing, I used to pay the entry employees CNY 1,500 (€177.1/$238.1) per month and now I would not get any person working for less than CNY 6,500 (€767.4/$1,032) and this is almost net for them -- maximum 10 percent tax -- the employer also pays about 45 percent on top of that for social security,” said Boon.
The Chinese government, as a matter of national policy, has been increasing minimum wage levels by 15 percent to 25 percent annually for the past three years.
Rates vary by region and are set by each respective local government – calculated in tandem with a number of other indicators, including relations to the local housing market, he said.
“They are also set to rise over the coming years as China looks to shift its economy towards a more balanced consumer society. To achieve that goal, Chinese citizens need to have increasing levels of disposable income.”
How this is manifesting itself is an interesting case study that is perhaps best and most easily-defined by the map and accompanying table below. With such visual aids, it is easy to see at a glance that the well-known coastal provinces boast relatively higher minimum wage levels than the more slow-to-develop western areas, said Boon.
However, there are local anomalies.
“Haikou, the capital city of Hainan Province, maintains a minimum wage lower than that of Kashgar for example,” he said.
The map below is color-coded based on the current minimum wage levels in the downtown area of each region’s respective capital city. That means for Fujian Province we used Fuzhou and not Xiamen as the key indicator, and for Guangdong Province we used Guangzhou and not Shenzhen.
For specific city-by-city figures, the table below lists the minimum wage levels of 50 major cities across China.
“We have a new strategy in Russian Sea, we are very interested in fishing assets,” Dangauer, who is now CEO of Russian Sea’s importing division, Russian Fish, told IntraFish in September. “Probably you will see some action in the near future,” he said. ”It could be mergers and acquisitions involving Russian Sea.”
However, the puzzling bit lies in Suvchuk’s title -- in its announcement, Russian Sea said Suvchuk would lead its Far Eastern fishing activities.
This goes against the expectation that Russian Sea will be looking at assets in western Russia, where it is specifically expected to try and acquire Arkhangelsk Trawl Fleet (ATF), partly by using the political leverage of its new backer, the influential oligarch Gennady Timchenko.
“We think that Russian Sea is most interested in fleet assets in the Barents Sea region. As for the potential targets for acquisition, we've already heard media reports on the group's interest to ATF,” Tatyana Bobrovskaya, senior analyst for consumer goods at IFC Metropol, had told IntraFish in September.
A fishing executive in Russia who is well familiar with Russian Sea was also bewildered by the news.
“To acquire one of the Far East companies Russian Sea would have to pay real money to current private owners and, moreover, compete with Pacific Andes and Ocean Trawlers,” this executive toldThe Buzz. “I do not think it is their first choice.”
Both analysts and this executive pointed out that Russian Sea’s poor finances -- negative earnings and extremely over-leveraged -- made it unlikely to be able to make any acquisition.
-- Eva Tallaksen
Feb. 22, 10:31. a.m. GMT
Panama producer sees weak prices for medium-to-large shrimp
Competition from Ecuador and a weak market in Europe are two issues Roberto Chamorro, general manager of shrimp farmer Camaronera de Cocle, part of Panamanian agribusiness company Grupo Calesa, is seeing in the market.
“For the moment the market is steady with weak prices for medium to big shrimp (30/40),” he told The Buzz.
“Apparently Ecuador is producing a lot of this size with the Argentinean gambon at very low prices,” said Chamorro. “So, the situation is complicated to sell inventories.”
The European market is depressed with the economic situation, so the price forecast is uncertain, he said.
Camaronera de Cocle is the largest integrated shrimp farm operation in Panama dedicated to Litopenaeus vannamei. It sells 50 percent of its production to Europe, with Spain, Italy, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom and Belgium being the main markets. Around 35 percent goes to the United States and 15 percent to Taiwan.
The rest of its output of 3,400 metric tons of processed and packed shrimp goes to a variety of markets. It has its own farms, covering 1,200 hectares, and also buys shrimp from outside companies.
Its shrimp processing plant, Altrix de Panama, is capable of producing up to 100,000 pounds per day.
“We are seeding the ponds for the next cycle and will start harvesting in May to June,” said Chamorro of plans for this year.
-- Tom Seaman
Feb. 22, 9:50. a.m. GMT
Young’s Waitrose plant MD to leave
The managing director of Young’s Seafood’s dedicated Waitrose plant is leaving the company and The Buzz has tips as to where he is going......
Roy Cunningham, a longtime and highly respected manager in the Young's organization, is leaving his role as managing director of the company's Macrae Edinburgh site, which produces a range of products for Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Partnership.
According to the job advert, Young’s -- which regroups all of Findus Group's UK operations -- is looking for a candidate with experience of running a food business with sales of over £50 million (€60.2 million/$79.2 million).
Macrae Edinburgh’s 6,000 square meter site in Livingston was opened in May 2007, after an investment of £10 million (€12 million/$15.8 million).
It produces hot and cold smoked seafood, prepared shellfish and hand-crafted value-added products for entertaining in partnership with Waitrose.
The new site now employs about 230 people, most of whom moved with the business from its former premises at Granton.
Macrae Edinburgh primarily uses Scottish-sourced fish such as salmon, shrimp, crabs, scallops oysters, langoustine, trout, herring, haddock and mackerel.
It can smoke up to 80 metric tons of whole salmon and 40 metric tons of hot smoked mackerel every week.
Watch this space as to where Cunningham ends up, but The Buzz suspects it will involve a trip north....
-- Tom Seaman
Feb. 21, 14:26. p.m. GMT
China workers staying home
More and more, Chinese workers are finding work in their home cities and not having to venture to the coasts to work.
Bad news for the seafood sector, which might even have to import labor in the future, according to a source Liyana Low talked with.
“Workers are certainly a problem with many factories now,” Didier Boon, managing director of East China Seas, a Beijing, China-based supplier.
“They return less and less as the possible income in the far flung places has risen tremendously and they prefer in most cases to stay near their family,” he told The Buzz.
“Factories are accepting less and less difficult work and now charge a lot for anything special,” he said.
“But on the other hand, we start seeing factories buying some machinery to make up the lack of workers.”
As to the outlook for 2012, Boon has an open mind.
“Let us see what is going to happen in the next year...”
-- Tom Seaman
Feb. 21, 15:12. p.m. GMT
Thai shrimp processors selling at below cost
US shrimp inventories are high; the US market is flat, said Jim Gulkin, managing director of Bangkok, Thailand-based frozen seafood supplier Siam Canadian Group.
“Thai raw material prices remain high, but factories are selling at or below cost to keep production moving,” Gulkin told The Buzz.
“With expected pressure from India, Indonesia, Vietnam and South America, Thai raw material prices are going to have to move down at some point,” he said. “Thailand cannot compete at current levels.”
-- Tom Seaman
Feb. 16, 8:12. p.m. GMT
MSC meets with Alaska salmon leaders
Sources are telling The Buzz that leaders of Alaska’s salmon fishery met in the last several days with Marine Stewardship Council mucky-mucks to hear the MSC’s latest offer – “MSC for free.”
Sources say the MSC is offering to wave all recertification fees, which run somewhere between $100,000 (€76,000) and $200,000 (€52,000), if the Alaska salmon mafia rejoins the MSC.
Under the new incentive plan, up to 75 percent of the external certification costs would be covered by the MSC, subject to sufficient logo revenue being generated from that fishery. So for Alaska salmon, this means 75 percent of those third-party certification costs for the reassessment and all surveillance audits were alreadygoing to be covered.
“Is this still about sustainability of the Alaska fishery model or the sustainability of the MSC financial model?” asked one of my sources.
When asked about this rumored meeting, the MSC’s Kerry Coughlin gave the kind of say-nothing political answer that more and more passes for genuine MSC dialogue.
“The Alaska salmon fishery continues to be certified within the MSC program and therefore MSC outreach and other staff continue to have interaction with partner companies related to the fishery. In the context of the large processors' recent announcement, as I’ve said, we remain hopeful that either the current client group or a new client group will re-enter the fishery into assessment for a third certification. We will provide information as requested by any of those interested. Beyond that, there is nothing else to add at this time,” Coughlin said.
The standards UK supermarkets demand of suppliers are so high, it means they have to live with fewer options in terms of suppliers, a UK industry source told The Buzz.
“The supermarkets are their own worst enemies,” the executive lamented. “By setting standards that only a few can achieve, they can't shop around much.”
It is very expensive to meet the ever increasing standards, he said.
"This is creating a barrier to entry to smaller players who are generally reluctant to invest until they see the riches from multiple supermarket listings coming in, but don't see those riches because they haven't invested," he said. "Luckily I am presently working for a visionary who is investing!"
Young’s Seafood, now the dominant UK fresh and frozen player after absorbing Cumbrian Seafoods, is quoting some “pretty high prices” as a result of its dominance.
“They are telling supermarkets that they are the only ones who can meet their technical standards and keep to specification with integrity,” he said. “Nice try boys, but you are not a monopoly yet.”
Guyader Gastronomie was apparently not the only one looking to acquire the French salmon smoker.
Intermarche's smoked salmon division Le Moulin de la Manche and Ledun Pecheurs d'Islande (LPI) had also showed interest in making a move on the company, a person familiar with the process told The Buzz.
LPI and Le Moulin de la Manche are the fourth and fifth largest salmon smokers in France, with Bretagne Saumon following in sixth place.
Taking over Bretagne Saumon would have made either into a stronger rival to the dominant market players Meralliance, Alfesca (now renamed Labeyrie Fine Foods) and Kritsen.
According to our source, Antoine Gorioux, the former head of Marine Harvest Kritsen, had initially intended to acquire both Guyader Gastronomie and Bretagne Saumon, but the plan fell through, supposedly after the supporting fund pulled out. Instead, Guyader took over Bretagne Saumon, having hired Gorioux a few weeks earlier.
His deportation comes as he is embroiled in a legal fight with Cermaq in Canada.
Asked to comment, Marine Harvest Scotland trod a diplomatic line.
“We are aware that Don Staniford will be deported from Canada to the UK, which is his country of origin. It is a long time since he was here, so it’s hard for us to comment," Steve Bracken, business support manager, told The Buzz.
Young’s Seafood confirmed it found evidence Cumbrian Seafoods authorized the purchase of non-Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP)-labeled shrimp.
Previously, Young’s had stated:
“We found evidence, from before Cumbrian Seafoods went into administration, to suggest that non-Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP) accredited prawns may have been used to produce products that specified that they contained BAP prawns at the Seaham site.”
In reaction to a request for more comment from The Buzz, Young’s confirmed it had found “further evidence.”
This evidence suggests:
“Before Cumbrian Seafoods went into administration, the company had authorized the supply of prawns from BAP-accredited sources which didn't, however, meet the full product specifications or all the requirements of the Global Aquaculture Alliance certification label on pack.
“Immediate action was taken, the products were withdrawn and suspended, and a root and branch review of all purchasing processes is being instigated at the former Cumbrian Seafoods sites.”
PanaPesca has been in discussions with a variety of entities over the past 25 years, he said.
There are several companies interested in the Italian distributor, however, he said. “I am sure the rumor mill will be running full steam ahead in Boston.”
A source in the Italian food business and a banker said Pacific Andes is likely to be uninterested in paying the price that Panati wants for his business.
However, there are also some private equity funds interested, the source in Italy said.
“I think there are several private equity funds in Italy looking to PanaPesca and other frozen food companies -- not just seafood -- looking for some consolidation,” he said. “I met the owner of a medium size company and confirmed that is a lot of time that that discussions are going on.”
But, there has been no result so far, he said.
This is a familiar story.
“When I entered in this business in 2005, the first rumor I heard was PanaPesca was on sale.”