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Marine Harvest's Texas plant delivering, but Rebel Fish needs tweaks

The company's new strategy in the US will impact both supply and consumer sales.

Marine Harvest recently divided its Americas division into two new departments, Americas Raw Material and Trade, and Consumer Products in a bid to further increase its business in the United States, and craft marketing strategies that will fit each of its brands.

The company’s strategy in the country varies from brand to brand, with different operations depending on the different markets it supplies.

“In the United States, we operate with strategies directed to different types of clients, the strategic focus is defined by the consumer that we are targeting,” Gianfranco Nattero, managing director at the new division Americas Raw Materials and Trade, told IntraFish.

Toward the end of 2016, Marine Harvest opened a processing plant in Dallas, Texas, mainly for the production of value-added products, although it also processes skin-on and skin-off fillets.

Since its opening, the company has seen a consistent weekly increase in volumes and it expects this trend to continue as it is operating far under the plant's full capacity, Nattero said.

“This plant was the right move, we know that because we keep growing every week and this site gives us a great capacity to produce products that are thought for the consumer," he said.

“We opened it within the projected time frame and it was just the right step.”

The company now expects to achieve high efficiency in the United States by better defining the best ways to improve the different sides of the business separately.

Although there is great room for growth in the United States for value-added production, some Marine Harvest products are doing better than others, Nattero told IntraFish.

The Rebel Fish brand, launched in 2014, is not performing as well the company had expected despite last year’s strong investment in marketing and a change of of the product's look.

“The sales performance of the Rebel Fish brand is not as good as we had expected, but we are convinced the concept is right and the brand is attractive, we will keep investing in it,” Nattero told IntraFish.

“We will continue to develop different activities and operations to help the brand achieve its potential in the United States.

“At the moment, we are selling a very consumer-friendly product with the packaging we unveiled last year, where the salmon is very visible, and I don’t want to comment on product development strategies ahead.”

In the US smoked salmon sector, Marine Harvest has a large capacity for different markets through its Morpol brand -- Scottish and Norwegian salmon -- and Chilean salmon through 35-year-old brand Ducktrap.

“The Ducktrap brand is well known in the United States retail. It is sold to very specific retailers as it is a very niche product, but it has had a spectacular sales development,” Nattero said.

Marine Harvest produces its Ducktrap smoked salmon at a plant in Maine.

Morpol, on the other hand, is a brand with a wider reach due to its vast production capacity, Nattero told IntraFish, and the company is focusing its strategy in developing this product and the brand on the consumer end.

“Ducktrap is a recognized brand with a great value for niche retailers, whereas Morpol is a great quality product with an enormous productive capacity that can stand out in its category, this allows us to market it in retailers with a strong presence in the United States," he said.

Nattero will now work in the reinforcement of the raw material supply to the United States not only on salmon but also other products from different origins. Nattero will be based in Chile, after spending five years at Marine Harvest offices in Miami.

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