Brussels 2017 blog: Here's what you missed.

IntraFish was on the ground with up-to-the-minute coverage of the world's largest seafood show.

Thursday, April 27, 5.21 pm CET

French processor getting hit from all sides

Fresh and frozen shrimp processor Gel-Peche is not enjoying a great time of it at the moment, with its two core products -- Madagascan shrimp and Giant Squid from Peru -- both suffering from low harvesting.

The company processes volumes of around 5,000 metric tons of mainly shrimp from Madagascar, India and Vietnam as well as smaller volumes of Peruvian giant squid and fish such as tropical sole from Senegal and red mullet.

Cedric Lebourg, managing director of Gel-Peche, which has around 13 vessels, told IntraFish, catches of Madagascan shrimp are “not good” at the moment and in the past two months are in fact down around 15 percent.

Meanwhile, the shrimp it imports from India and Vietnam, is also seeing “a big tension” on prices due to a lot of new disease problems in Asia, Lebourg said.

The situation with Giant Squid, a product into which Gel-Peche diversified two years ago, is also “a total disaster,” Lebourg said, as El Nino has resulted in barely any landings.

The company did about 1,500 metric tons of Giant Squid in Europe last year and its main markets are France, Portugal and France.

While there is no way to compensate for the low catches of shrimp and cephalopods, the company may diversify more into fish, Lebourg said.

“We are always looking for a solution and will try to keep up volumes somehow, but the situation will get worse and worse year after year as big, big pressure will persist.”

--Dominic Welling

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Thursday, April 27, 5.02 pm CET

High-end UK seafood wholesaler establishes foothold in France

UK-based T&S Enterprises, part of the larger Akariya Group, supplies some of the UK's top Japanese sushi restaurants such as Nobu and Zuma, but is now opening an office in Paris to take on the high end market there.

In line with the growing trend in popularity of sushi, T&S Enterprises is also growing with it, but it focuses predominantly on top quality restaurants with demanding chefs with high standards.

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“Demand for quality sushi is rapidly growing throughout Europe and so is our business – around 10 to 15 percent annually,” Itsuro Kubo, managing director of the company told IntraFish.

The company imports high quality seafood from all around the world, offering more than 250 different seafood products, as well as other products such as vegetables and Wagyu beef, and it constantly looking to add to its range.

“We are not here [Brussels] to look for customers, but we are looking for new products – black cod is getting very popular for example but is quite difficult to find, but also any fish of sashimi quality is interesting for us.”

While inevitably sushi and Japanese restaurants are the company’s natural clients as it has grown, it started to supply many European and other non-Japanese restaurants as well such as Italian, Spanish, and other European types of fish and restaurant customers.

“We have very recently opened a new office in Paris targeting the high end Japanese restaurants there.” The number of susi restaurant has “exploded” in Paris and T&S Enterprises is now supplying the very top end.

Alongside Nobu and Zuma, it is also supplying the €200/head exclusive Onodera restaurant in the city; the €350/head Okuda restaurant and the first ever Japanese restaurant in Paris -- Takara.

--Dominic Welling

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Thursday, April 27, 3.30 pm CET

Oversupply means AP surimi is cheap

Alaska pollock surimi production has been so good lately that in fact there is an oversupply, which is inevitably “depressing prices”, according to Shivram Warrior, director at Future Seafood Asia.

Things could be different for the current A season -- which is coming towards the end -- as “from what we have seen they are catching small fish of 300 grams, and production is down.”

But what impact this will have on the market and prices for surimi will depend on what stocks people have left from the last B season.

In general the supply from tropical fish is down, while western Europe and Lithuania is replacing tropical surimi with Alaska pollock, due to the softer prices.

“When prices are low, surimi producers with the flexibility to do so, switch to Alaska pollock,” said Warrior.

“The block market is so weak, so producers are producing more surimi, so the supply is more than adequate and customers are able to negotiate better pricing.”

For the ongoing A season, prices are currently being negotiated, but the higher grades are expected to hold the prices of last B season, he said.

Additionally the Japanese are holding stocks only at a minimal level, as supply is so strong from US.

Overall consumption is steady more or less. Although down in the EU, increased consumption in SE Asia is more or less compensating for that.

The A season is coming towards the end, but the B season will start around June 1.

--Dominic Welling

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Thursday, April 27, 2.49 pm CET

Team-building done differently

Lithuanian private label smoked salmon producer Norvelita is using the Brussels show as a meeting point -- just like many others in this industry.

But at the same time it has become increasingly important for team-building, Viktorija Kenstaviciene, sales manager at the firm, told IntraFish.

Instead of just getting its sales deparment to come, the group is also bringing some of its ground and production team to the show.

“They need to understand the importance of their work,” Kenstaviciene said, adding it’s a good way to get everyone out of their daily routine.

Norvelita processes around 20,000 metric tons of salmon for private label customers, especially in Germany.

In addition, it does about 2,000 metric tons of herring and mackerel for the domestic market in Lithuania.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, April 27, 2.38 pm CET

South African hake -- is it Namibia all over again?

Hake catching firms in South Africa are facing a string of impending quota cuts, one source in the industry told IntraFish.

The government is currently in the process of withdrawing quotas from the country’s biggest suppliers, something that has been challenged at a court level.

And this comes on top of the planned 2020 quota relocations. “It’s a lot of politics and corruption coming up in a big way,” the source said.

South Africa currently has a total allowable catch (TAC) of 140,000 metric tons of Cape hake.

I&J is the biggest quota holder with around 44,000 metric tons, followed by Sea Harvest with around 38,000 metric tons.

Both of them might be losing out in the future.

“There’s a feel of change [in the industry], which isn’t comfortable,” the industry source said. “It’s the Namibia story all over again.”

South Africa’s hake industry is also facing increasing cost due to higher prices for oil, water and electricity, inflation and the strength of the country’s currency.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, April 27, 2.31 pm CET

Group pushes digital traceability

After more than a year of preparatory consultations with leading seafood industry actors around the world, the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability launched a web-based platform for companies to collaborate and adopt voluntary standards and guidelines for interoperable seafood traceability systems on Wednesday.

“Companies around the world have been looking for ways to lower costs and improve access to reliable seafood traceability without getting trapped into inflexible proprietary systems,” said David Schorr, senior manager of WWF’s Transparent Seas Project.

“As other globalized industries have found, the key is a framework of voluntary global traceability standards. That is what the Global Dialogue seeks to deliver.”

 Major brands throughout the supply chain in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia already applied and the deadline is the end of June.

“The transition to digital traceability is inevitable,” said Tejas Bhatt, acting vice president, Science and Policy Initiatives for the Institute of Food Technologists, which runs the Global Food Traceability Center.

“This is already happening in other food sectors as well as in other industries. Our expectation is that the Global Dialogue will enable the private sector manage this change effectively and efficiently on a pre-competitive basis.”  

Organizers will host a technical workshop in Bangkok next week followed by an informational meeting during June's SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Seattle.

--IntraFish Media

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Thursday, April 27, 2.20 pm CET

Klaas Puul plant construction plans well underway

Dutch shrimp processor Klaas Puul will start construction work on its new shrimp processing plant in Volendam in about two months, Cees Molenaar, marketing manager at the firm, told IntraFish.

The plan is to finish construction by the end of the year to have it up and running by summer 2018, he said.

The company is looking at getting British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification after construction is concluded.

For the show, the company introduced several new products, including Argentine shrimp, as well as hand-peeled coldwater shrimp.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, April 27, 1.54 pm CET

DIY smoked salmon

Dutch salmon and shrimp supplier Foppen is banking on innovation -- and has come up with a new product for barbecue lovers: ‘smoke your own’ salmon.

The group recently launched the product under the Kirkland brand at US retail giant Costco, Peter Wiggelinkhuijsen, sales manager at the firm, told IntraFish.  

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The kit contains a smoker bag -- which can be placed directly on the grill -- and a piece of salmon, weighing between 550 and 600 grams.

Consumers can easily add vegetables or potatoes into the bag, Wiggelinkhuijsen said.

“We’re growing in the US and are rolling out new business in Asia too.”

Another invention Foppen hopes to push into its main markets is flame-roasted salmon.

The situation for salmon processors has nevertheless been difficult, Wiggelinkhuijsen said.

“Salmon prices are complicated but everyone thinks they will go down later in the year, which is when we’ll be focusing on rolling out more new items.”

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, April 27, 1.26 pm CET

Spend money to make money

Belgian seafood importer Seacorin, founded in September 2014, has ambitious plans to almost double its turnover by 2020, but to do this it first needed a financial injection.

In August last year, the company’s ownership structure changed and Belgium based angel investor group MDM took a 50 percent stake in the company, delivering this financial boost.

"The move means we have the financial capacity for our growth," Koenraad Van Simaey, CEO of the company, told IntraFish. “If you want to grow in turnover, you first have to grow in finances.”

And the company plans to almost double its revenues from €27 million this year to around €50 million by 2020.

Seacorin will further expand its product range, “step by step” and sourcing markets to countries such as Ecuador, Indonesia and China.

It is also opening new operations in Bangladesh and India, and also potentially in Vietnam, so it will be “close to the source” for things such as quality control.

 “The company's focus remains on a low cost organization that delivers sustainable and correct products at competitive prices,” Van Simaey told IntraFish.

--Dominic Welling

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Thursday, April 27, 12.43 pm CET

Shore growing bigger and bigger

Belgium shrimp group Shore -- which now comprises Morubel, Germany’s Ristic, Dutch Telson and Costa Rica’s Rainbow Export Processing, unveiled its new organizational structure earlier this year -- and things are progressing well, Edo Abels, CEO at the firm, told IntraFish.  

Without Telson, in which it holds a 50 percent stake, the group reported a turnover of €140 million in 2016.

And further growth will be on the agenda.

Through its Costa Rican firm, the group is now expanding into the US and Canadian markets, Abels said.

In two months, it will start supplying “one of the biggest foodservice companies” in the United States -- and it is seeing a boost from its chilled business in Europe.

New product development, packaging innovation, and investments in increasing the shelf life of its shrimp is the main focus now.

“We’re in discussion with an awful lot of customers,” Abels said.

In addition, it is pushing its organic and Pure Shrimp products, which Chris Meskens, Communications and CSR manager at Shore, described as an umbrella of the group’s sustainability efforts.

Watch Shore Commercial Director Henk Casteele introduce the group’s new chilled items in the video below.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, April 27, 12.18 pm CET

Spanish crayfish supplier celebrates 30 years

“It’s been 30 years, and the company is doing very well,” Nicolas Roux, general manager at crayfish supplier Alfocan, told IntraFish.

Alfocan sources its products from Spain, but also acts as a trader between China and the United States and the European Union.

Its 100 percent wild production is caught by artisanal fishermen, and is then distributed to retailers and wholesalers.

Although it varies every year, its main client is the United States, where it sells more than 50 percent of its production.

Spain, on the other hand, is a minor, minor consumer of the product, despite the location of the company’s headquarters in Seville.

“We supply big retail chains in Spain, but yet this accounts for 3 or 4 percent of our sales, it’s a small market for us.”

--Lola Navarro

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Thursday, April 27, 12.07 pm CET

Shrimp shifting gears

The European market for shrimp is “challenging” due to currency and economic uncertainty, Jim Gulkin, managing director at Siam Canadian, told IntraFish.

“It’s not a bad market but it’s rather flat,” he said.

The company, which reported a turnover of about $320 million last year, is nevertheless expanding its business, he said.

A “relatively strong” market in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom is driving sales. In addition, Gulkin is seeing increasing demand in Asia, especially in China.

He expects overall sales volumes to grow this year.

“The first quarter was good but it doesn’t tell the story -- the fourth quarter will tell it,” he said. “But the bottom line will be good.”

Watch the video below to hear Gulkin’s view on the 2017 shrimp, pangasius and tilapia supply and pricing.

 

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, April 27, 11.16 am CET

Chilling out

Dutch seafood company Anova Seafood is placing a strong focus on chilled and convenient seafood at the moment, and is “heavily investing” in these lines.

It is also getting on the poke band wagon, and is launching new albacore tuna chunks and saku into its chilled product line.

Here, the company’s new commercial director Arjan Oosterlee explains the strategy:

--- Dominic Welling

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Thursday, April 27, 11.00 am CET

Blumar finalizing plans for region XII

Blumar and Multiexport are the two companies who have unused concessions in region XII at the moment. Other applications are currently under assessment, and beyond that, there can be no more requests to farm in the area.

The two companies, though, are looking into ways of setting up operations in the remote zone, which are a bit tricky due to the lack of specialized people living in the south and the need to provide housing for workers, as well as other obstacles.

However, Blumar’s plans are coming along, Daniel Montoya, commercial director of the company said.

“We have advanced in different directions in this project and we are very close to taking a definitive decision to implement the plans,” Montoya said.

“Our project will include the construction of a hatchery -- in the long term we would like to be able to have our own smolt supply.”

--- Lola Navarro

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Thursday, April 27, 10.49 am CET

Busy week for Skaginn 3X

It’s been a busy few days for processing equipment supplier Skaginn 3X, which has used the show to sign a number of new contracts as well as unveil a brand new company.

Firstly, Jon Birgir Gunnarsson, head of marketing at the company, told IntraFish it has sold a second of its “Sub-Chilling” systems to Fisk Seafood for its new fish trawler Drangey SK2.

The system is a new chilling method that chills the fish down below to its freezing point without freezing it and makes it possible to store the fish in tubs without using ice, allowing for more fish in each tub and better quality of end products.

In addition, French Pelagic and Havyard have come to an agreement with Skaginn 3X to equip a new pelagic processing vessel with new technology for grading, packing, freezing and palletizing the products onboard the vessel.

And last, but not least, the company has partnered with five other companies to establish a brand new company -- Knarr Maritime -- also unveiled at Brussels.

The other founding members of Knarr Maritime are Nautic, Frost, Brimrun, Naust Marine and Skipataekni.

Gunnarsson explains:

 

--- Dominic Welling

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Thursday, April 27, 10.46 am CET

It's party time at Pescanova

Ignacio Gonzalez, Nueva Pescanova CEO, said the company’s renewed brand and its latest product launch, the dippeo range, is launching the ‘old firm’ into a new consumption market where it has never been before.

“We have refrigerated, peeled, de-headed and boiled shrimp, and added different dip sauces, now it’s a product that can be brought to celebrations, parties; just like nachos are,” Ignacio Gonzalez,  CEO at the company said.

--- Lola Navarro

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Thursday, April 27, 10.43 am CET

Fish churros, anyone?

Pacific West UK -- one of the sales arms of Malaysian value-added processor Golden Fresh -- is seeing quite dramatic changes in UK seafood tastes, with products like squid suddenly in big demand.

And the company is taking full advantage with innovative new products such as charcoal coated shrimp and pollock churros.

--- Rachel Mutter

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Thursday, April 27, 10.24 am CET

Nova Austral hatchery plans delayed

Chilean salmon company Nova Austral is dealing with an unexpected delay on the construction of its hatchery in Tierra del Fuego, but the plans will still go ahead, CEO Nicos Nicolaides said.

The company was planning to have the hatchery up and running by 2018, and get the first smolts at the end of 2018, but it’s been delayed for a month for administrative reasons.

The company expects the hatchery to make it completely self-sufficient and expects to reduce smolt-transfer time from one week to eight hours.

“And it’s not only the time, it is the costs and the biological risks,” Nicolaides said. “When we had the mortalities earlier this year in the smolt-transfer process it was just a reaffirmation that we need a hatchery in the south.”

When the hatchery is built, and if there's enough production the plan is to also supply other farmers operating in the area who at the moment have to bring their smolts from regions X and XI, Nicolaides said.

--Lola Navarro

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Thursday, April 27, 10.09 am CET

Omarsa doubles value-added capacity

Ecuadorian shrimp farmer Omarsa will begin operations in its $3 million expanded plant within the next two months.

“We are doubling our capacity of value-added production, and significantly increasing the plant’s capacity for whole shrimp,” CEO Sandro Coglitore said.

Shrimp production in Ecuador is expected to grow between 10 and 15 percent this year, although the latest rains have affected farms in the country.

--Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, April 26, 5.42 pm CET

Med fish flying high

Having acquired France Turbot in 2015, Gloria Marie Groupe is also producing sea bass, sea bream and meagre with an overall volume of 3,800 metric tons per year and the market is good, President Philipe Riera told IntraFish.

-- Rachel Mutter

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Wednesday, April 26, 2.35 pm CET

Lidl 'eager for more certified species'

Judith Kontny, international corporate social responsibility manager at Lidl, was the keynote at the annual Seafood Futures Forum hosted by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

This marks MSC's 20th year and ASC's seventh year.

"We are eager for more certified species, notably octopus and squid, and we believe more effort is needed to engage consumers in eastern and southern Europe in support of responsible and sustainable seafood,” said Kontny.

Panelists included Mars Petcare, Sanford, Simplot and Aqua Spark.

Mars Petcare said by 2020 it will only use fish from sustainable sources in the production of pet food.

Most, or 97 percent, of Simplot’s John West Australia tuna products contain MSC-certified tuna and it just launched the first ever MSC-certified canned tuna in New Zealand.

--IntraFish Media

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Wednesday, April 26, 5.28 pm CET

A lot of fuss about nothing

The normalization between Norwegian and Chinese trade and the possible entry of Norwegian salmon into a market that’s now well-supplied by Chilean salmon is not something that concerns New World Currents that much.

Eduardo Goycoolea, executive director of the Chilean commercial consortium in China, said today that Norway’s resumption of salmon sales into China would mean they leave existing markets under-supplied, as there is no reason to believe the production in the country is going to increase.

“It can go in different ways, but whatever Norway does, it’s not something that threatens our strategy,” Goycoolea said.

“If they were to send their salmon to China, they would do it at the prices at which they sell in current markets, and Chile has very competitive prices, so I’m not sure how much they can sell at their prices.”

Another possible move for Norway is to invest heavily in marketing, which will only increase demand for salmon in the country, which is already on an upward trend.

“China was the only country that increased consumption despite the prices. That tells us this is not going to change,” he said.

This is not to say that there will not be a buzz about it. “There will be noise, a lot of it, but I think it will normalize after a while.”

--Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, April 26, 5.22 pm CET

Trader turns processor

Setraco's recently appointed new CEO Erwin De Spiegeleire, explains how the company is marking an “important change in direction” from where it will no longer be just a commodity trader in frozen fish and seafood but is now setting its sights on becoming an important player in the ready meal business.

--Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, April 26, 4.54 pm CET

Russia hoping to boost VAP exports to EU

Russia’s federal agency for fisheries, Rosrybolovstvo, is looking to both boost exports of value added seafood into Europe, and its domestic seafood consumption, according Ilya Shestakov, head of of the organization.

The country currently exports most of the fish it catches mainly as raw material, but “we want to export more processed goods,” said Shestakov during the Brussels Seafood Show.

"We plan to sharply change the structure of domestic seafood production focusing on value-added products (VAP)."

The European seafood market is of big interest for Russian producers, given that EU countries are the main consumers of the species.

In 2016, the country’s pollock harvest grew 7.2 percent over the previous year to 1.74 million metric tons, making up 37 percent of Russia’s total seafood catch, while pollock exports increased 1.6 percent to 781,900 metric tons.

Meanwhile, in the domestic market prices of seafood which are linked to the Ruble have gone up some 15-20 percent, resulting in a reduction of consumption in the country.

“But we have plans to get this back to around 22 kilos per person,” added Shestakov.

As part of its effort to expand its foreign seafood markets, the number of Russian participants at the show has grown to 22 companies.

--Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, April 26, 4.24 pm CET

Retail giant launches GGN-certified Scottish salmon

German retailer Globus launched GGN label-certified salmon on ice sourced from The Scottish Salmon Company in April at its fresh counters.

Together with the launch, Globus introduced a point-of-sale technology, which allows consumers to connect via a QR code and their mobile phones “directly to the farms, directly in store,” Jürgen Pauly, category manager fresh fish at Globus, told the audience at a GlobalGAP stakeholder event this afternoon.

Last year, The Scottish Salmon Company became the first salmon producer in the UK to secure full GGN licensing, Craig Anderson, CEO at the firm, told the audience.

“For us, it’s a matter of pride,” he said. In addition, it opens new markets and new territories for the company and gives it the “opportunity to stand out in a highly competitive market.”

GlobalGAP unveiled the new aquaculture consumer-focused eco-label at the Seafood Expo in Brussels last year.

To date, 10 labeled products are available on the market, and Kristian Moeller, CEO of GlobalGAP, said interest is growing.

One new market will be China, where it recently inked an agreement with Alibaba’s TMall.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, April 26, 2.28 pm CET

Peruvian giant squid still nowhere to be seen

It’s been two years of low biomass and difficult fishing of giant squid, and no-one knows why.

Rafael Ferrero, manager of direct human consumption (DHC) at  Exalmar said fishing continues to be low, and prices high at the moment.

“The only vessels that catch something are in the south-central area, in the north there is nothing,” he said.

Although the resource is important for the country’s exporting sector, there are no stock assessments for the species, and the reasons behind the biomass volatility is not known.

Renato Bustamante, commercial director at Hayduk agreed, saying there’s no scientific studies explaining giant squid biomass cycles.

“They haven’t put that much effort into assessing DHC species; anchovy assessments are very accurate, but we don’t know anything about giant squid, or even tuna,” Bustamante said.

For this reason, there’s little predictability on what might happen in the coming months.

--Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, April 26, 2.27 pm CET

Sanford's Volker Kuntzsch named IntraFish Person of the Year

Volker Kuntzsch, CEO of Sanford, was today named IntraFish Person of the Year at a packed IntraFish Leadership Luncheon.

Few executives have as much experience at high-profile companies and high-profile initiatives as Kuntzsch, and even fewer have left their organizations having changed them for the better. Not that it’s been easy...

Read here for the story of one the most interesting careers in seafood and one of IntraFish's most deserving Persons of the Year.

-- Rachel Mutter

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Wednesday, April 26, 2.23 pm CET

Seafood Scotland snaps up EU funding

Seafood Scotland has been awarded just under £1 million of EU funding to showcase Scottish produce at international trade shows.

Support in the latest round of the European and Maritime Fisheries Fund will enable industry body Seafood Scotland to exhibit in seven trade shows around the globe over the next 12 months.

"Raising the awareness and enhancing the global profile of the Scottish seafood industry will assist the sector as a whole, while helping individual businesses to expand into new markets and increase consumer awareness of their fine products," said Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations for Scotland’s Place in Europe.

Scotland's fishing industry is a vital part of the rural economy, with the fishing fleet generating £437 million last year and fish and seafood recording increased exports.

“Salmon is key to this success. We are the world’s third largest salmon producer, accounting for 94 percent of the EU production," said Russell.

Each Scotland exports around 172,000 metric tons globally -- of which more than a third heads to the EU, "illustrating the crucial importance to Scotland of the European marketplace."

--IntraFish Media

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Wednesday, April 26, 2.12 pm CET

Hayduk focuses on rebuilding after losing millions in storms

Peruvian fishing company Hayduk is strengthening its infrastructure after a month-long period of severe weather along the 1,200km Peruvian coast that has caused the company  losses of between $6 million and $7 million, said Renato Bustamante, commercial manager of the company.

“March was a tough month, the country wasn’t ready for that natural catastrophe, we’ve had split roads stopping us from transporting our fish, so we had to stop fishing, processing and selling for a whole month,” Bustamante said.

The rains occurred “all over the place, one day in one side and the other in another completely different part, but they destroyed roads and bridges that connected our plants to our distribution sites in Lima.”

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To supply its customers, Hayduk had to use its fishing vessels to transport canned products that were already processed, a process much more expensive than using roads; and on the way back from Lima, the vessels were bringing supplies for the affected communities.

“It’s been a disaster, it’s affected the country massively, all companies in the North and in Chimbote were severely affected, but also entire communities had no access to food and other basic services.”

The weather has now normalized, and the company will invest in improving their existing facilities, which were partly destroyed by the storms.

--Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, April 26, 2.01 pm CET

Country of origin could become ‘big issue’ for EU shrimp importers

Importers in the EU should be wary of an increasing number of Vietnam shrimp processors importing raw material from India for reprocessing before exporting to EU, according to Adriaan de Leeuw, managing director at Belgian shrimp importer and exporter Solea International.

“It could become a big issue,” De Leeuw said. “The EU is scrutinizing shipments from Vietnam for example, to check they have the correct Form A (certification of origin) and it is not falsified.”

Both India and Vietnam benefit from reduced tariffs in the EU with importers paying 4.2 percent duty for raw product and 7 percent for cooked. This is a reduction of 8 percent and 13 percent respectively on the full tariffs for these products.

Should the EU discover the country of origin is not accurate -- due to reprocessing or falsified documents -- through no fault of their own importers could be hit with the higher rates, and be forced to make up the difference.

“Importers will have to pay the extra if the Form A is not accurate, which when you’re importing 300 containers per year, could be a significant amount of money.”

--Dominic Welling

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Wednesday, April 26, 1.52 pm CET

Viciunai’s mini surimi bites to hit retailers in France

Viči surimi Perles de la Mer, which has just been awarded the Seafood Excellence Global prize for Convenience, is to be launched this summer in France, according to Šarūnas Matijošaitis, the CEO of Lithuanian surimi giant Vičiūnai Group.

The company’s scallop-flavored mini surimi bites can be eaten cold, pan-fried, grilled, or poached in salads, stuffed shellfish, and fish stews.

"We already have some industrial clients for this product in Belgium, and are planning to launch it in the French retail in the forthcoming months”, said Matijošaitis.

In addition, the breaded variation of the Perles de la Mer surimi bites with scallops taste is going to be launched only in few weeks’ time in the Baltics.

Bites will be formed at the Vičiūnai surimi stronghold in Plungė, and breaded at the company’s Estonian factory Paljasare Kallatostus.

--IntraFish Media

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Wednesday, April 26, 11.54 am CET

CP Prima hopes to be back on track by 2019

Indonesian shrimp farming giant Central Proteinaprima (CP Prima) has had an extremely tough couple of years financially, but after modernizing its business model with farmers, hopes to be back on track by 2019.

Arianto Yohan, director at the company, told IntraFish the dire 2016 results speak for themselves, but the company has made significant changes to rectify the situation since then.

Specifically, CP Prima has changed how it works with its farmers at Centralpertiwi Bahari (CPB) -- its main farming operation.

In October last year it ended cooperation agreements with individual farmers by which they were obliged to sell their harvests to CP Prima in return for financial and operational assistance.

“Our business model was outdated,” said Yohan. “It is good when the farmers are producing and getting good volume, but once you have a few seasons of failure, our money is simply too tied up, so we don’t really have a choice, things are not within our control.”

The scheme has now been replaced by the Independent Shrimp Farming Operation Scheme under which farmers buy feed, fry, electricity and supporting facilities from CP Prima, and are able sell their harvests to any client.

Based on this agreement, CP Prima has released farmers’ receivables, taken over the farmers’ loans with the banks, and also give them termination compensation.

"There will be a transition period before we are back on track,” said Yohan. “But we have taken a major step already and I expect we will be OK in maximum one and a half years.”

The company posted a loss of almost IDR 2 trillion (€139.7 million/$150.1 million) for the full year of 2016, but Yohan said the changes to the business model and writing off the farmers' debt, accounted for a large chunk of this.

CP Prima’s total production fell almost in half from 40,000 metric tons to around 22,000 metric tons, as part of the changes and along with the drop in volumes, inevitably the company has also been forced to shut down one of its two processing facilities.

“So a big chunk [of the losses] has already been reported,” said Yohan. Now the company will focus on its feed sales to boost results going forward.

“We have a long term strategy in place and a lot of work to do in between, but it will hopefully pick up again soon.”

--Dominic Welling

-------------------------

Wednesday, April 26, 10.52 am CET

Brexit uncertainty impacting Espersen

Danish whitefish giant Espersen is “willing to invest” in setting up production in the United Kingdom, as a last resort to handle the impact of Brexit, CEO Klaus Nielsen told IntraFish.

The group has several big customers in the country -- and is not prepared to lose those, he said.

“We’re not taking any immediate action now,” he said. Espersen is monitoring the situation and talking to Danish politicians to ensure trade is not going to be impacted.

“We’re extremely dependent on trade,” Nielsen said, describing the recent global political changes as “sad.

“It’s always been about reducing barriers,” he said. “That’s what’s best for trade and what’s best for the planet.”

Espersen recently announced the closure of its plant in Fredericia, Denmark. By the end of 2018 it will move its production to Poland.

Nielsen described the move as a “cost-reduction exercise. It was a labor-intensive plant and to keep up with the competition we need to make sure to have the right cost.

“It was a very tough decision,” he said. The retail sector and market remains highly competitive, and “it’s fair to say that we must optimize.”

Commenting on the sluggish 2016 financial results, he said the group had a better start to this year as both cod and haddock prices have stabilized.

Watch the video to hear Nielsen talk about Espersen’s chilled business.

--Elisabeth Fischer

-------------------------

Wednesday, April 26, 10.43 am CET

Selonda CEO looks to 'bright' future

Despite “very challenging pricing” and oversupply especially on sea bream, Selonda is looking ahead at a “very bright” future, its CEO Mihalis Panagis told IntraFish.

“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “We’re increasingly penetrating the European and North American markets But I do wish for a more balanced demand and supply picture.”

After integrating Dias into Selonda in 2016, the group now has production volumes of more than 31,000 metric tons -- making it one of the biggest producers in Greece.

Sales grew double-digit last year, he said, “despite the contraction on sales prices."

The focus now will be on new species, such as red bream, adding value to its products through skin-packs and MAP, as well as a renewed focus on the North American market.

Watch the video to find out more.

 

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, April 26, 10.30 am CET

Game, set and match

Malaysian value-added seafood processor Golden Fresh scored a match point when it won a contract with the famous Wimbledon tennis tournament this summer for the third year running.

A two week long event, the company will be supplying six metric tons of tempura cod.

The company was also a supplier to the London 2012 Olympics and is working now on Tokyo 2020.

Marking another foray into Europe, after a short delay, Golden Fresh’s new Polish smoked fish joint venture will be up and running by the second quarter of next year.

It is all part of the company’s strategy to be closer to market through new processing ventures.

It also plans to gear up automation in its three processing lines, retaining its staff of 550, but employing more equipment for future capacity growth.

“It is not so much about labor costs as reducing human resource work and increasing sanitation,” said CEO Saw Hai Earn.

The company is also investing MYR 20 million ($4.6 million/€4.2 million) into an end-product cooking facility which should be up and running in the next 17 months, according to Earn.

-- Rachel Mutter

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Wednesday, April 26, 10.06 am CET

Organic Madagascan shrimp

Eric Bernard, head of quality and sustainable development at French-Madagascan shrimp supplier R&O, highlights the importance of sustainability and social welfare for shrimp farming companies.

Watch the video now. 

 

--Elisabeth Fischer

-------------------------

Wednesday, April 26, 10.00 am CET

Blumar, WWF collaboration seeks 100% ASC

Chilean salmon farmer Blumar said it has completed the first stage of an evaluation to certify all its farming centers under the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) scheme in collaboration with non-governmental organization (NGO) WWF Chile.

Both organizations are working together in the implementation of sustainable practice in order to obtain certification across the Blumar’s farming sites as part of a plan that has been in the making since Oct. 2016, the company said.  

Blumar is working to reduce antibiotic and chemical use through improved area-based management and exploring non-pharmacological alternatives to tackle the frequent bacterial outbreaks and the high levels of sea lice in the region.

“This important work reinforces our company’s commitment to achieving the ASC standard at all of our sites as well as engaging other industry members, government, and stakeholders like WWF to work together,” said Gerardo Balbontin, CEO of Blumar.

--IntraFish Media

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Tuesday, April 25, 5.46 pm CET

French smoker rides the wave of high salmon prices

High-end, high-quality products are paying off for French salmon smoker Guyader, who despite suffering two years of extremely high salmon prices, is able to pass on the extra cost to consumers.

With a 50 to 60 percent increase in raw material price increases -- when raw material accounts for around 60 percent of a salmon smoker’s total costs – passing on the rise was inevitable, Antoine Gorioux, CEO at the company, told IntraFish.

“It has been very hard with retailers but we have managed to pass on through the increase in prices,” he said.

Despite the product costing more, consumers are still happy to buy it, he said, as the market is actually looking for higher quality, premium products.

“Consumers are willing to pay more for better quality,” he said.

They look for “gastronomie," appearance, very high end products, with a good provenance story, especially in France.

“Around 80 percent of consumers are more concerned with how the fish is fed and where it’s from,” said Gorioux.

The company sources its salmon from France, Norway, and Scotland and uses both Label Rouge and organic products.

With a turnover of around €73 million, Guyader has four main business units, covering charcuterie, food service, smoked fish (including trout) and vegetarian foods.

--Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, April 25, 5.36 pm CET

What's it like to be exclusive to the world’s most demanding retailer?

Marks and Spencer sources all its value-added shrimp production from Honduras-based Granjas Marinas.

The company focuses on low density, with between eight and 12 shrimp per square meter, initially to obtain a better quality, but also to prevent disease and increase resistance.

“We supply the world’s most demanding retailer, and we have to offer the finest product,” the group's Victor Samuel Wilson said.

Known for its natural feeding processes, the shrimp farmer has the highest vertically integration in the world’s shrimp farming model.

From selecting breeding, to breeding, to broodstock, to spawning, to growing, and to processing it.

“We package the product, but we only final package it for consumers for a client in Mexico, normally other clients add value to it, pack it and place it in retailers’ shelves,” Wilson said.

The company had a turnover of nearly $100 million, it produces 31.5 million pounds of live weight shrimp, around 35 percent of Honduras’ entire production.

It uses two farming systems, a semi extensive operation where the production goes through a nursery pond before being transferred to the growing ponds; and a multiphase farming system (MIMS), where post larvae is stocked in open raceways for 8 days with zero manufactured feed and no water exchange.

During this phase, diatoms are inoculated to feed and to produce oxygen.

“We are attempting to develop diatoms as an improved way of grazing for aquaculture feed; it’s natural, it absorbs sunlight, it takes carbon dioxide from the air and produces oxygen, and it’s proven to offer excellent nutritional properties to larval shrimp,” he said.

--Lola Navarro

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 5.18 pm CET

Shrimp sales made easy

Belgium’s Hottlet Frozen Foods is looking at new ways of reaching its customers and launched a web shop at the beginning of the year.

“We wanted to make it easier for our customers; and make it easier for us,” the firm's Steven de Wachter told IntraFish.

Customers have access to product specifications, technical sheets, pricing and even recipes, he said.

To date, about 25 to 30 orders come in per week, de Wachter said. “It started slowly but it’s picking up.”

Hottlet’s best-selling products are shrimp in various forms, however, the company has diversified into other fish and seafood over the years, which it sells under its 'epic' brand.  

In 2016, the family-owned business reported a turnover of €15 million.

--Elisabeth Fischer

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 5.03 pm CET

The pangasius paradox

Pangasius has been struggling in Europe -- and the situation is just getting worse and worse.

A raft of negative media reports resulted in a public outcry at the beginning of the year. The probably biggest hit came when retailer Carrefour pulled the fish from its stores in Spain, Belgium and Italy.

And the impact has been huge. Inlet, which is the second biggest importer of pangasius and the first company to sell the fish in Spain, saw its sales drop 75 percent in February and March, respectively.

“And they’ve dropped 73 percent in April so far, but the month is not over yet,” Eino Brand, managing director at the company, told attendees at a stakeholder meeting this afternoon.

Alfons van Duijvenbode of Globally Cool called it the “pangasius paradox.” Aquaculture's importance is growing year-on-year and is looking at an ever more promising future -- but pangasius doesn’t seem to be able jump on that bandwagon, at least not in Europe.

Among the major whitefish species, including cod, pollock and hake, sold in Europe it was the only one to see continuously lower sales, he said.

It’s a toxic mix of a negative perception of safety, a negative perception of unsustainable production, a movement of lobbying to support local fish, and general competition for shelf space at retailers.

“It’s sad, especially if you see that producers are doing their best,” Esther Luiten, commercial director at the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), said.

So what now? The panelists and audience at the event were clear: structural marketing is needed.

Brand suggested that the Vietnamese Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) should take joint marketing initiatives such as the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) does for salmon and ASMI for Alaskan seafood as an example.

Tam Nguyen, general director at producer Vinh Hoan, said efforts are underway to organize a mechanism a mutual marketing effort.

She also called for the support “from the whole supply chain,” including distributors and retailers in Europe.

“There should be a structural solution to this not a one-off to put out the fire in Spain,” van Duijvenbode said.

“There’s a clear joint interest to get out of this but we in the EU expect action from the Vietnamese side,” he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 4.59 pm CET

MPEDA: India targeting 8% growth in shrimp production this year

India is on track to grow its shrimp production by around 8 percent to at least 450,000 metric tons in 2017, maintaining its position as the world’s largest producer, according to G. Rathina Raj, joint director for aquaculture at the country's Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).

And the country has no plans on slowing down just yet and is keeping its “steady” growth plan at 10-15 percent annually, he said.

Conversely, black tiger production in the country has dropped 95 percent Raj said, as farmers switch to higher productivity of vannamei farming.

Diseases, in particular white spot, remain a major challenge for the sector in India, as is the use of antibiotics.

“But we have a number of programs in place to overcome diseases and we are doing many things to tackle antibiotic residues.”

And it is not only shrimp – now the country is looking to ramp up its aquaculture industry for both cobia and tilapia, said Raj.

For the moment India produces around 2,000 metric tons of these species annually, he said, but is aiming to reach 10,000 metric tons to be able to access exports markets.

--Dominic Welling

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 4.48 pm CET

Stolt focuses on the differences

Jordi Trias, managing director of Stolt Sea Farm, has only been with the group around a year, but he’s already been infected with “the seafood virus.”

Trias, who comes to seafood from the FMCG sector, has been tasked with helping the company focus more on the customer, but he says his job is much easier when the market demands the product.

Following Trias’ appointment, Stolt for the first time created a marketing department.

“This business for too long has been about just selling fish, not creating value out of those fish,” he said.

The company’s latest offering, king sole, is an effort to brand the product’s large-sized sole, which are in demand from chefs year-round.

“These are the types of things we have to be doing – the idea is to put a stamp on our differences,” he said.

Stolt is now producing around 5,400 metric tons of farmed turbot and 850 tons of farmed sole annually, and the company has no plans for a massive ramp-up of production.

“We always want to deliver something special, and produce it differently,” Trias said. “We definitely are after the high end.”

--Drew Cherry

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 4.47 pm CET

Getting used to a new pelagic reality

W. van der Zwan CFO Gerard Zwijnenburg said the global pelagic industry is still getting used to a world without mainstay markets of Russia and Nigeria.

“We it first happened, it was a bit of a shock for us,” Zinjnenburg said. “There were years in Brussels that we didn’t have anything to sell. At least now our people are busy.”

The hunt for new markets has actually invigorated the company, Zijnenburg said.

“It’s healthy, because it gets you out of the office seeking those new markets and new contacts,” he said.

Though the demand outlook is strong, Zwijnenburg noted that, like all European harvesting groups, W. van der Zwan is highly concerned about the impacts of Brexit.

“It’s the No. 1 topic on the agenda,” he said. Already, producers organizations from The Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany and Ireland are banding together to combat the inevitable struggle with the UK for fishing resources.

“We’ve been fishing here for hundreds of years,” he said. “International law is on our side.”

--Drew Cherry

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 4.45 pm CET

Cabomar stays afloat, and that is good enough

Spanish processor Cabomar sold some 23,000 metric tons in 2016, and reported a turnover of €74 million; this year it plans to maintain those levels, with a complicated Argentinean giant squid situation.

The company sells other products such as squid -- especially Patagonian -- South African hake, and Chilean mussels. However, its main product is the very looked-after Argentinean giant squid.

There’s little availability this year, although it’s grown compared with a disastrous 2016, Enrique Freire, general manager at the company said.

A few months into the launch of its peeled fresh Argentinean shrimp line into the European market, the product keeps doing well.

Cabomar sources from third party vessels, and processes the shrimp in its plant in Spain and then sells it to retailers, mainly under private label, and wholesalers. At the moment, exports account for 70 percent of its production.

In terms of investments, the company continues to focus on efficiency improvements; purchases in equipment and machinery, and the automation of its processing plant is what helps reduce costs in the highly volatile market.

-- Lola Navarro

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 4.40 pm CET

Pangasius exporters facing tougher times in the US

Vietnamese pangasius suppliers will be facing tougher import inspections, starting from Sept. 1 this year, Tran Dinh Luan, deputy director at the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said stakeholder event during the Brussels show this afternoon.

Under the new rules, imported pangasius will be treated the same way as domestically produced catfish.

This will result in increased inspection, and suppliers must submit documentation to the US Department of Agriculture.

“Although the pangasius industry is already claimed to be among the most tightly regulated fish industries in the world, Vietnam is ready to go one step further and fully cooperate in this program in order to continue exporting to the United States,” MARD said in a statement.

--Elisabeth Fischer

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 4:20 pm CET

Krustagroup enters the United States

Spanish processor Krustagroup and Chilean salmon producer Camanchaca announced their agreement to sell each other’s products in their respective strongest markets, and the step will open the doors of the United States to Krustagroup, David Pena, key account manager at the company, said.

With the deal, Krustagroup will sell Camanchaca’s salmon and mussels in Spain, mainly, and also in Italy, France, Lithuania, Denmark, France and Portugal under the Pier 33 Grand Krusta brand.

Meanwhile, Camanchaca will sell Krustagroup’s wild Argentinean red shrimp tail in the United States, where it has a well-established network.

“It is a great opportunity for both companies, the product we want to sell has great acceptance in the United States and it will be a great advantage to have such a strong distribution network there,” Pena said.

The company will source the product from third party vessels, since it doesn’t have a fleet operating for this species, and is at the moment adjusting their supply model to the US distribution system.

“At the moment we are trying to adapt our supply capacity to the demands in the United States; our suppliers operate on a catch-sale model, whereas the new contract implies long-term deals, so it’ll be an important transition,” Pena said.

The exclusivity co-branding agreements will help both companies expand to interesting markets to which they had otherwise very limited access. 

-- Lola Navarro

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 3:40 pm CET

Mastering sushi at Ocean Basket

South African seafood restaurant chain Ocean Basket is seeing growing success with its sushi offerings.

The chain, with more than 200 units in 16 countries -- the majority of them in South Africa -- is a national favorite in South Africa when it comes to fish and chips and other seafoods.

Its sushi program is enjoying the benefits of the company’s relationship with Pepi Anevsky, a World Sushi Master champion in 2013. He joined the company about two years ago as its head of sushi development and training.

Sushi offerings at the chain now account for 15 percent of the company’s sales, said Roelof Brink, head of Strategic Sourcing for Ocean Basket.

Anevsky is at the Brussels seafood show promoting seafood for the Japanese trade pavilion.

-- John Fiorillo

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 2:50 pm CET

Illex squid prices up, up through the roof

The Argentinean illex squid fleet continues to struggle with low landings, and processors are faced with “crazy” prices as inventories run low.

This year so far, the fleet has fished just more than 80,000 metric tons according to an importer, this already exceeds last year’s landings, which reached 80,000 for the whole season.

However, last year, companies had some stocks from previous seasons and could rely on them and deal with the catch shortage.

“After last year, inventories are really low, and prices are around $4,500 per metric tons for small sizes, and even $5,000 per metric ton for medium sizes,” the importer said.

-- Lola Navarro

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 2:48 pm CET

Is bass and bream back on the path to destruction?

Spyros Giannulatos, commercial and financial manager at Galaxidi Marine Farm is fearful the second half of this year might see the Mediterranean bass and bream industry fall back into bad times.

“Greece, Italy and Spain remain stable but Turkey is growing a lot,” he said.

Giannulatos refrained to answer whether he thought the industry could slide back to the disastrous days of 2008/2009 where the market was flooded with product and resulted in the eventual bankruptcy of some of the big players.

“It’s a question mark,” he said.

However, he sees a glimmer of hope in the future fate of fellow bass and bream producers Selonda and Nireus who came under bank ownership after the last fall-out.

“I am waiting to see what will happen when the banks sell Nireus and Selonda, because it will happen -- the banks are not fish farmers,” he said.

Giannulatos predicts the sales will happen before the end of 2018 and thinks their fate could shape the future of the sector.

“It will be important to see if both get bought together or separately,” he said, adding that a joint buy-out and more consolidation would be good for the sector.

“The competition has never scared us,” said Giannulatos. “It makes us better.”

“The sector needs to grow, and grow in a sustainable way.”

-- Rachel Mutter

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Tuesday, April 25, 2:45 pm CET

Cooke: Time to treat wild salmon right

While the learning curve is steep, Cooke Aquaculture is confident that the new seafood resources brought in via its Icicle acquisition can earn a higher market value by applying the knowledge the company has developed over the years in farmed salmon.

“There’s a good natural crossover, especially with sockeye,” CEO Glenn Cooke said.

This year, the group plans on focusing major new attention on the fresh sector, especially out of Bristol Bay. As a first step, Cooke purchased a series of new Marel filleting machines to install in its Alaska plants.

“It’s a big goal,” Cooke said. “More added value, more fillets and portions. Sockeye is too high-value a fish and it shouldn’t end up in a can. We’re flying a lot of fresh fish out of Bristol Bay this year.”

The company’s branded skin-pack line will roll out into stores this summer, and it’s likely chilled Alaska seafood will be part of the lineup, Cooke said.

-- Drew Cherry

-------------------------

Tuesday, April 25, 1.53 pm CET

Steady as she goes

After a big year at the Brussels Seafood Show in 2016 launching its new packaging, Pride of Scotland brand, and then getting its products into retail giant Marks and Spencer at the back end of the year, Scottish smoker Associated Seafoods is enjoying the ride for the moment.

“The M&S business is going well, we are very pleased with it, and we are just getting on with the day job,” said Neil Greig, commercial director at the company.

The company is seeing growth as it settles into the M&S contract which it signed in September 2016 for the retailer’s top tier smoked salmon range, 'Twice Smoked Scottish Salmon', and the first Christmas was a success, he said.

Overall, the business is doing well, said Greig, and is seeing growth even against significant inflation.

“Everything is good, steady as we go.”

--Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, April 25, 1.34 pm CET

Searching for the salami of seafood

Wandering the show floor, Anova’s new commercial director Arjan Oosterlee -- who moved into the role from the meat sector a month ago -- has already “seen some holes”.

Oosterlee was brought into the company to help bridge the gap between the proteins, as inevitably the meat sector is so far ahead of seafood in terms of its range, flexibility and versatility.

“There is so much fresh, packed fish, but you question if this is what the young consumer wants? It is important we make more out of it, look to more convenience,” he said.

Oosterlee cited sliceable sandwich meats such as salami, as an example where there is a lot of room for innovation in the seafood sector. Mincemeat as a component in sausages and burgers, is also an area worth looking at.

“Fish burgers could take off,” said Oosterlee. “We don’t see things like this in fish, but this is the direction and the future. People are not used to eating fish like meat yet.”

Oosterlee hopes to use the arguments of health to translate in new ways of thinking for the consumer.

“Some ideas are quite far off and need developing, but we must adapt to consumer habits and not the other way around.”

--Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, April 25, 1.07 pm CET

Fancy a poke?

Dutch seafood company Anova is getting on the poke bandwagon, and is launching new albacore tuna chunks and saku into its chilled product line.

“Poke in the US used to be limited and is now seeing massive production,” said Willem Huisman, co-founder and CEO of the firm. And the same is starting to happen in Europe.

The new EU trend for raw Hawaiian poke in the EU coincides with a wider consumer desire to eat healthier and as part of that eat more fish and seafood.

But in addition to the new lines, Anova is placing a strong focus on chilled seafood at the moment, and is “heavily investing” in these lines.

Particularly the company is pushing it’s chilled cod line, which is producing all year round and on top of this further investing in its albacore tuna business, including loins and steaks and also the mentioned saku and poke.

The company is looking at “high value, high quality” products where it is close to the market and the resource is available all year round.

“We are noticing a slight decline in frozen while chilled, MAP and convenience is expanding,” said Huisman.

The company’s chilled line includes cod, pangasius, Lake Victoria perch, chum, and sockeye.

--Dominic Welling

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Tuesday, April 25, 1.07 pm CET

Fiorital dreams bigger

Italian fresh fish and seafood trader Fiorital is looking to increase its turnover from the €250 million reported last year to €300 million this year, Michela Leandri, buyer at the firm, told IntraFish this morning.

While there have been challenges in terms of sourcing -- especially with the topsy-turvy salmon pricing -- demand has been stable, she said.

Italy is the firm’s biggest markets but it also sells to France, Croatia, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.

Salmon and nile perch are only two of Fiorital's best-selling species, however, Leandri said it is always looking at new products to introduce to its markets.

Watch the video of Fiorital Buyer Aurore Despras introducing the company during the show.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, April 25, 1.06 pm CET

Enjoying the ride

“It won’t be a good investment but it will be a good adventure!” said Philippe Riera, president and chairman of French producer Gloria Maris Groupe of the company’s purchase of France Turbot in 2015.

With worse finances than the acquisitive aquaculture group expected, Riera is hoping to finally balance out the €3 million ($3.3 million) loss GMG made on the purchase by the end of this year.

But the one consistent is the product’s quality, according to Riera, and the product has kept hold of its valuable Label Rouge certification throughout the restructuring.

“It is still an incredible product,” Riera told IntraFish and “gets a very high price,” he added, although he declined to tell us what that was.

Alongside turbot, GMG is also producing sea bass, sea bream and meagre with an overall volume of 3,800 metric tons per year.

Rachel Mutter

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Tuesday, April 25, 1.02 pm CET

Frosta, Nestlé Italiana brand takeover talks to conclude this month

German frozen fish processor Frosta is in exclusive negotiations with Nestlé Italiana over a potential acquisition of three of the latter's brands -- and the talks are set to conclude this month, said Jürgen Marggraf, vice president of operations at the firm.

Nestlé’s frozen brands in Italy -- 'La Valle Degli Orti,' 'Mare Fresco' and 'Surgela' -- would be a good fit for Frosta, he told IntraFish.

The group already has some private label and foodservice business in the country, and is making headway of getting its brand into the country’s retailers.

“We see good potential in the Italian branded market and Nestlé’s products would be the right fit for us,” he said.

Overall business has been good for the Bremerhaven-based processor, he said. “We had a good start to the year and we believe that’s not going to change for the remainder of 2017.”

 

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, April 25, 12: 51 pm CET

Surimi’s struggles in Europe, France

European retailers are somewhat reluctant to introduce new surimi products to their customers, Serge Thirion, sales and marketing director at Lucky Union Foods (LUF), told IntraFish.

“The market is not growing very fast anymore,” he said. “In France, it is even declining.”

Retailers there “stuffed shelves with cheap rubbish,” he said -- and the end customer is the victim.

Thirion believes the “only way up” is to slowly increase pricing and put the focus on quality once again.

LUF, which installed new lines at both of its Thai and Polish plant, is producing more than 30,000 metric tons of finished products a year, which according to Thirion is close to full capacity.

“Our capacity is full so there’s no need to push out cheap products to our markets,” he said.

LUF, which will report sales of $110 million this year, has also been focusing on sourcing sustainable raw material.

“That’s the course we have taken and want to take in the coming years,” Thirion said.

DH Karl, team leader of the global business team at LUF, added in terms of processing the company will bank on more automization at its Thai plant.

At the moment, around 700 people are working at the plant, which according to Karl is no longer sustainable. “It’s difficult to source people even in Thailand,” he said.

 

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday April 25, 12.48 pm CET

Setraco shifts up a gear

A new-look booth at the seafood show is more than just redecorating, it is representative of the Belgian company’s “new impulse” and change in strategy, said the recently appointed new CEO Erwin De Spiegeleire.

This year the company is marking an “important change in direction” from where it will no longer be just a commodity trader in frozen fish and seafood but is now setting its sights on becoming an important player in the ready meal business.

Along with launching a new brand for its new ready meal line -- Cook’s Pride -- Setraco opened a new brand new €5 million factory last year in Furnes, Belgium.

With a number of production lines the plant has a total capacity of 2,500 metric tons per year, but is currently only using a third of this, so the scope for expansion is huge.

“We want to grow in value added production (VAP) alongside our traditional roots in trading,” said  De Spiegeleire.

Commodity trading has been the company’s core business for around 30 year, but in todays market where there are more and more price pressures along all steps in the supply chain, “the only way is growing through critical mass and making the shift into higher value products.

“We want to combine our forces of trading and production, we feel we are right on time,” said De Spiegeleire.

The company has come up with 50 recipes for the new ready to eat range, ranging from Asian inspired concepts to Western European, and it has already landed listings in a major Norwegian retailer and in a major Belgian retailer.

Setraco deals with around 10,000 metric tons of seafood per year.  Financially speaking, the past two years have been “difficult” for the trader but feels this “bump in the road” is now behind it.

The company reported a turnover of €50 million in its latest financial year, but with new backing from a group of investors, Setraco believes it now has the financial muscle to grow this to around €75 million by 2021 and then further to €100 million in 2026.

--Dominic Welling

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Tuesday April 25, 11.47am CET

Bangladesh rides high on black tiger prices

“Everyone is watching to see what will happen, but we are expecting prices to go up,” said Jalal Uddin, director and CEO of Bangladeshi black tiger shrimp exporter Crimson Rosella Seafood.

The country, who exported around 5040 containers of shrimp last year, mainly to Europe, Japan and the United States, has been riding high on recent prices, which have seen size 16/20 shrimp hit $7.25 per lb.

However, Uddin said the low price of vannamei is presenting some challenges in a country whose government has banned production of the species.

--Rachel Mutter

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Tuesday, April 25, 11.45 am CET

Getting Saucy in Canada

Saucy Fish is happy with how business is progressing in Canada, a new market for the company as of about six months ago.

The value-added product range is being carries by a number of top Canadian retailers, including Loblaws, YIG, Zehrs and more.

The range is really resonating with Millennials, said Paul Macis, the company’s international and business development manager.

He said the products are attracting new customers to the category, which is not only good for the retailers but helpful to boosting overall seafood consumption as well.

-- John Fiorillo

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Tuesday, April 25, 11.40 am CET

Spanish mackerel from Florida

David Krebs Jr. of Ariel Seafoods traveled from Destin, Florida, to the Brussels show this year to gauge interest in his company’s Spanish mackerel.

The company produces about 1 million pounds a year right now but has capacity for more if the market demand is there, Said Krebs. Ariel owns 4 boats and buys fish from a fleet of more than 125 vessels in the Gulf.

The fish are caught by both hook-and-line and with cast nets and, at least for now, is sold whole in markets in the United States and Canada. Krebs is hoping to attract EU buyers to the fish during the show.

-- John Fiorillo

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Tuesday, April 25, 11.32 am CET

Ecuador looks for more European investment

Ecuador has two main goals following the enforcement of the EU/Ecuador free trade agreement in January this year: increase exports into its most important market, and attract more investors from it, Valeria Escudero commercial ambassador for the country, told IntraFish.

With the agreement, 98 percent of Ecuadorian exports to Europe will have a 0 percent tariff. For the $2.3 billion shrimp sector, exports increased 10 percent since the implementation of the deal, compared with the same period last year.

“This is largely explained by the agreement," said Escudero. "Import duties were reduced from 36 percent to 0 percent. It is a great boost.”

Ecuador is the largest exporter of shrimp to Europe, where it sends more than 40 percent of its products, mainly to Spain and France.

At the moment, the country is participating in several investor forums to attract European investment, Escudero said. 

-- Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, April 25, 11.16 am CET

What a load of pollock

While Alaska pollock prices have fallen somewhat in the last year, China’s biggest pollock processor expects them to remain stable for some time to come.

“It got a little bit cheaper, and normally the price goes up in May, June, July [when the fishing season in Russia ends] but this year it is stable,” Kevin Qiu, from China Starfish’s export department, told IntraFish.

The company’s main product is frozen blocks into Germany, but it has also managed to eke up margins with a range of value-added products for the German, UK and French markets.

The company also claims to be the largest coldwater shrimp importer in China, which it sells along with crab and lobster under its Haimai brand on the Chinese market.

These value-added and branded products and the higher margins they produce have saved the company from the fate of many smaller Chinese processors, who have gone bankrupt through lack of financing in recent years, said Qiu.

The company produces 30,000-40,000 metric tons of Alaska pollock a year, purchasing mostly from Russia and the United States and processing in its three Qingdao factories which are manned by 1,400 workers.

-- Rachel Mutter

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Tuesday, April 25, 11.12 am CET

Ventisqueros launches new Pacific salmon brand

Chilean salmon farmer Ventisqueros is launching its new Pacific salmon brand Silverside, after signing a commercial agreement with BioMar for its TerraVia algae-based feed, Guillermo Staudt, commercial manager of Ventisqueros, told IntraFish.

The company will produce 2,500 metric tons of the Silver Side salmon in 2017, and it will reduce its forage fish dependency ratio (FFDR) from 1.3kg to 0.5kg for every kilo of salmon produced.

Ventisqueros becomes the first Chilean salmon farmer to use this technology, following a similar contract announced on Monday between Norwegian Leroy and BioMar for the sale of the same feed.

The company decided to trial the feed on its Pacific salmon production, and not Atlantic, because it is a seasonal fish and has a shorter production period.

“It only needs 10 months until it reaches harvesting weight, that way we can harvest the first production this year,” Staudt said.

"It is just the first step we are taking to trial this technology, but it's perfectly valid for Atlantic salmon production, as well."

The Silverside salmon will be sold in Europe and the United States fresh and frozen, in all formats: fillet, whole, portion and headed and gutted (H&G). 

--Lola Navarro

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Monday, April 25, 11:45 AM CET

Vega goes ‘beyond ASC’

Sustainability is no longer enough, so Danish salmon supplier Vega is launching a new concept at the Brussels show.

'Purity Salmon' is the company’s attempt to go “beyond ASC,” Marketing Manager Lone Hollensen said.

By partnering with a single farm based in Estafjord in Northern Norway, the group is able to provide buyers with the ultimate in traceability, even offering each fish a “salmon passport.”

The company is targeting ultra-high salmon buyers with the concept -- buyers willing to pay a premium for the additional production costs required to produce the fish at low density and without antibiotics.

The fish is given its own “salmon passport,” Hollensen said, which allows buyers to trace it back to the farm.

--Drew Cherry

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Monday, April 25, 11:56 AM CET

High-tech storytelling

Cermaq group marketing director Anders Tofte Wilhelmsen said there is an undeniable trend among consumers, especially young ones: the need for transparency.

“Bringing the customer into the value chain -- the origin, where it’s farmed, the people -- is more and more important,” Wilhelmsen said.

To bring Cermaq’s new message -- that the salmon farming industry has nothing to hide -- to a broader audience, the company is searching out new tools to tell its story.

“We as a big company need to be leading the development of new technology as a marketing tool,” Wilhelmsen said.

Cermaq’s latest initiative is a virtual reality tour of its entire value chain, from smolt to plate, which will allow the company to immerse its customers in the experience of salmon farming through the eyes of the people who do the work.

The industry is still in its infancy when it comes to marketing, and Wilhelmsen noted it’s now in the transition from generic messaging to a focus on companies and brands.

“We need to show who we are as a company,” he said. “We need to challenge the borders of marketing and use technology in new ways to target customers."

 

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, April 25, 8.15 am CET

Five new nations at show this year

This year's show, the 25th, is poised to be the largest event yet, with more than 1,800 exhibitors from nearly 80 nations in 73 pavilions.

Five brand-new countries are participating this year, including Costa Rica, Cyprus, Myanmar, Romania and Venezuela, organizers said.

"We are thrilled to be celebrating 25 editions of bringing the global seafood community together under one roof and see continued growth in the event year after year," said Diversified's Wynter Courmont.

--IntraFish Media

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Tuesday, April 25, 8.00 am CET

Back at it

Welcome to the IntraFish 2017 Seafood Expo Global live blog, brought to you by the six IntraFish journalists that are on hand on the show floor.

After a tense, security-heavy show last year, Seafood Expo Global is back stronger than ever for the 2017 show.

Start staying up to date with our blog from the European Tuna Conference as the world's tuna industry gathered Monday, and rest up for the action packed three days ahead.

Keep checking the blog often for up-to-the-minute updates and video interviews live from the show floor in Brussels. Stop by the IntraFish booth #5-301 first thing to meet our editorial and sales staff or pick up our print editions.

--IntraFish Media

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