North Atlantic Seafood Forum: Recap on all the news from the event

The 12th edition of the world's largest seafood business forum took place in Bergen, Norway this week. IntraFish was on the ground to get you all the news from the event.

Thursday, March 9, 4.16 p.m. CET

When it comes to feed, stick to fixed prices

Helene Ziv, risk management and sourcing director at feed giant Cargill, told her audience at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum that in the salmon industry – as in other animal feed categories – fixed prices are more beneficial in the long run and can help reduce the impact of volatility.

“Long-term fixed price opportunities are the way to go if you want a better balance between risks and reward,” Ziv said. “That is why we offer fixed salmon opportunities for salmon producers.”

--Lola Navarro

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Thursday, March 9, 4.00 p.m. CET

Expect more anchovy, better fishmeal quality

The future of fishmeal and fish oil looks very good, and demand is not going anywhere, said Rosana Ortiz, CEO of Peruvian fishmeal and oil producer Pesquera Exalmar.

In addition to a better outlook for anchovy landings, higher rains and stronger currents are causing ocean upwelling, which is bringing nutrients that will improve the quality of the raw material, increasing EPA and DHA levels in the fish, Ortiz said.

This will put the industry back to its levels, she said, in terms of prices -- which were a bit low because of the lower quality of the product last year-- and participation, as demand stays strong for aquaculture.

“Anchovy will always be an essential ingredient in aquaculture, there will be a market rationalization, but fishmeal and fish oil will play a strategic role in very important stages of the fish farming process,” she said.

-- Lola Navarro

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Thursday, March 9, 3.06 p.m. CET

Aquaculture certification is still in its youth

George Chamberlain, president of the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), gave attendees insight into GAA’s Best Aquaculture Program (BAP), highlighting the development of the standard and the group’s mission of not only improving the sustainability of the sector, but taking the next step: communicating to consumers and buyers about these standards.

“How can the market be sure these challenges are being met?” Chamberlain asked.

The volume of BAP-certified farmed seafood has grown dramatically, Chamberlain noted, and now spans an incredible number of species and geographies.

Still, BAP certifies just 1.77 percent of the world’s aquaculture production -- reaching out to the smaller farmers is critical.

“We’re almost insignificant, we have a long way to go,” Chamberlain said. “What about the great majority of farms?”

One interesting initiative to meet this need for certification to grow is GAA’s online responsible aquaculture foundation, a kind of Khan Academy for the world’s aquaculturists. MyGAA, a “LinkedIn for the aquaculture industry,” was recently launched, along with a new website, another strategy for bringing the industry closer together.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, March 9, 12.04 p.m. CET

Opening up a market for Norwegian crab

Norwegian company Cape Fish Group is looking back at a few successful years.

Since Russia signed agreements with Korea in 2014 and Japan in 2015 in a bid to stop illegally fished crab coming into those markets, the region opened up for Norwegian products, Erlend Johnsen, sales executive at the company, said.

Since then, crab exports to both countries rocketed for the NOK 280 million turnover company -- mainly frozen products for Japan and live exports to South Korea. 

Johnsen hopes the same will happen for the Chinese market, as "China and Russia had a verbal agreement last year. We expect to open up this market for us too."

The next challenge for Cape Fish is to build a brand for Norwegian king crab and snow crab in Korea, Johnsen said, to create more value for the species.

"Koreans have a very high opinion of Norway and I think we should capture that opportunity," he told the audience.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, March 9, 12.00 p.m. CET

Mesopelagics? Not a priority

“Mesopelagics might be another alternative source of protein, but these alternatives are looked at when prices of traditional species are high and there's a need to look for other sources,” Gorjan Nikolik, associate director at Rabobank said.

“Now prices are normalizing and it is not feasible from an economic point of view to look into this,” he said.

--Lola Navarro

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Thursday, March 9, 11.24 a.m. CET

Peru’s total anchovy catch to reach 5.3 million tons this year

"It is just an estimation, anything can happen, but our calculations show that with current conditions, raw material production in Peru could reach 5.3 million metric tons this year, up from 2.7 million metric tons last year," Enrico Bachis, senior analyst at IFFO, said today.

2016 was the "worst year ever" in terms of global fishmeal and fish oil production, he said, but after many years we will see a normalization especially coming from Peru.

In global terms, fish meal production could reach 5.1 million metric tons, and fish oil production could reach 942,800 metric tons, he said.

-- Lola Navarro

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Thursday, March 9, 10.56 a.m. CET

Reversing the coldwater shrimp trend

Once one of the biggest markets for coldwater shrimp, the UK market has seen a bleak development in recent years.

Since 2013, consumption has dropped a staggering 33 percent, said Charles Boardman, procurement director at Icelandic Seachill. And that's despite the fact the overall shrimp market is growing.

So how to reverse the trend?

It starts with the right market research and with knowing your consumer, Boardman said.

He believes the biggest untapped potential for coldwater shrimp is the younger consumer market -- which is quite big, as coldwater shrimp are mainly consumed by females aged 65 or older.

In addition, there's also the need to reduce the reliance on lunch occasions, which means innovatation.

Henrik Espersens, CEO of Ocean Prawns, believes coldwater shrimp suppliers shouldn't focus on trying to beat warmwater shrimp.

"Do you think we can beat them? No," he said bluntly. One should rather focus on educating consumers on the health benefits, and the origin of coldwater prawns to differentiate the product from its farmed counterpart.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, March 9, 10.25 a.m. CET

Shellfish’s worst enemy?

Well, that’s the shell itself, Lise Lotte Callesoe, CEO at Flying Seafood Group Foods (FSG Foods), said this morning.

Difficult handling is still a big obstacle for many consumers.

The second biggest enemy? That’s surimi, she said, especially in sushi. It’s cheap, easy to use and it always tastes the same.

Nevertheless, she believes that there is an opening for shellfish in Scandinavia’s still growing sushi market.

The trick is to find the right niche. “You need to be very clear what kind of restaurants you want to serve,” she said.

At the same time, suppliers need to inspire restaurants, be creative and put themselves in the mind of the restaurant and customers.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, March 9, 10.23 a.m. CET

Cermaq’s sustainability journey

Cermaq integrated the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its strategies in 2016, and took attendees at the NASF through the journey of developing that strategy.

The group, the second-largest producer of farmed salmon and trout in the world, examined the 17 UN SDGs and identified where they could change to better meet those goals from a corporate strategy perspective.

The group saw quickly that nutrition, biodiversity, human rights, sustainable production and climate action were all areas it could make a difference, according to Wenche Gronbrekk, head of sustainability and risk at the group.

Transparency and partnerships were quickly identified as a priority, and Cermaq several years ago began being very clear about its successes and the areas where it was falling short with its sustainability report. Its work with the Global Salmon Initiative is one example of collaborative approaches to improving the sector.

A few specific projects rose to the surface in recent years that Cermaq believes can make a difference. It launched the “iFarm” concept that can track individual fish to improve fish health, quality and sustainability.

In addition, its participation in the Pincoy project, together with feed companies and other stakeholders, is part of a plan to reduce antibiotic use in Chilean production by 50 percent by 2018. The group is also putting major effort into seeking out alternatives to fishmeal and oil to reduce usage in feed.

“If you want to grow, it has to be sustainably,” Gronbrekk said.

“We really want to drive change. And we don’t see many colleagues from the seafood sector working on the initiatives we are. This is my invitation to join up.”

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, March 9, 10.10 a.m. CET

A political war zone

“Fisheries management is only about politics -- it is not about sustainability, and it is not about biology,” said Oli Samro, director of Faroe Islands analysis company FAREC International.

Concerned about the allocation of pelagic fish stocks in the North Atlantic, Samro claimed that Faroe Islands politicians "don’t care at all about fishermen."

The North Atlantic is the place to be in pelagics, he said. "The North Atlantic is today in protein what the Middle East was in energy in the '70s, and it's a battlefield."

Mackerel, herring and blue whiting are the species vessels from the EU, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway fight for, and there needs to be an agreement to sort out the catch.

ICES, and other scientific committees he said, "are unreliable," claiming politicians should pressure them to improve their methods.

In addition, Samro asked the separate governments to come up with an individual agreement for each species in the North Atlantic area that considers borders, offshore territories and historic catch.

-- Lola Navarro

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Thursday, March 9, 9.51 a.m. CET

The future of sustainability looks…mixed

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), signed in 2015, provide a benchmark, essentially, for how we’re doing as a planet. So how are we doing so far?

Jorgen Hanson, a consultant with DNV GL Business, presented what his group thinks is the likelihood of us meeting these goals, and things aren’t looking great.

DNV interviewed a range of companies including Unilever, Tata, Marks and Spencer and Cermaq to understand what the private sector can and will do to help move the needle further.

The report, “The Future of Spaceship Earth,” was launched in September 2016, and offers a regional forecast of how the SDGs are developing.

To sum up, Hanson said, none of the SDGs will be met in all regions in the world – no surprise. While the US and OECD are leading the pack, China, BRISE and ROW areas are likely to fall well short.

One area where everyone is failing -- inequality.

“In fact, we’re moving in quite the opposite direction,” Hanson said. That means instability and likely less progress on other sustainability efforts, not to mention conflict.

Perhaps the biggest and most crucial SDG to watch -- climate change.

“If we don’t do anything out of the ordinary, we’re going to fail on climate,” Hanson said. “And this SDG is tied to almost all the others and whether or not they’ll be reached.”

It’s gloomy news, but it doesn’t have to be, and private industry can make a difference.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but it’s too little, too late and too slow,” Hanson said.

Hanson set out a challenge: see what your company can do, even if it’s small.

“Business is ready for extraordinary actions,” he said. “There is a sense of optimism.”

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, March 9,  9.48 a.m. CET

China -- a world of its own

Talk about China as the next big seafood market has been going around for years -- but Gorjan Nikolik, associate director at Rabobank, highlighted once again just how big it could grow.

"In our view, dynamics in China will be the single most important driver for seafood in the next five years," he told the audience at the whitefish seminar.

Chinese consumers now have the income available to spend more on fish and seafood, and Nikolik believes this could also open doors for higher-value whitefish species.

Skyrocketing online trade and an improving cold chain are facilitating trade as well.

Highlighting the massive impact the country has on worldwide trade, he said China will have an impact on "every single whitefish producer or processor globally."

Chinese tilapia farming and re-processing is "growing rapidly" and the country has become a leader due to its labor cost advantages and export subsidies. The focus here is on exports, he said.

At the same time, China's position as a net trader is weakening due to the ageing population and the strong demand for imported seafood. The loss of confidence in the domestic industry favors imports, he said.

Vietnam and other southeast Asian countries could pick up some of the reprocessing done by China and increase their exports to the country -- this also goes for India and Indonesia, which could set up processing hubs on their own.

And surprisingly, Vietnamese pangasius has been carving out a market for itself in China, he said.

European, Russian, North American and Latin American groundfish exporters have the opportunity to "develop a huge new market," he said.

Automation and demand for local production will bring groundfish processing back to the source, which will have an impact on reprocessing in China.

Latin America has a cost advantage, he said and countries in the region will dominate supply of the Americas with freshwater whitefish.

Nikolik believes food consumption expenditure in China will grow by $510 billion by 2025.

"How are they going to spend it? As income grows, they will be spending more on fish and seafood," he told the audience.

"It's a common dynamic but it's stronger in China than anywhere else," he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Thursday, March 9,  9.46 a.m. CET

Seafood is health food

Hunger, malnourishment and vitamin deficiency -- some of the biggest challenges of our time.

Seafood can play a major role, of course, and the UN is working to push that message and encourage more ocean protein producers to look to how they can play a role in alleviating these issues, according to Stefania Vannuccini of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Fisheries and Aquaculture department.

Malnutrition takes many forms and, increasingly, obesity is one of them. More than 1.4 billion adults were categorized as obese last year, according to the UN -- some 35 percent of the population.

The good news is that seafood production and supply is expanding and can meet those needs. Aquaculture production for human  consumption already exceeds wild fish production (that happened in 2014), but in 2021, it will be the largest source of seafood production full stop.

The growth has been staggering. Aquaculture accounted for 7 percent of fish for human consumption in 1974, according to the FAO, a figure that rose to 26 percent just 20 years later and 39 percent in 2004.​

Per capita fish consumption has increased along with production, unsurprisingly, and looks headed to an average of some 20 kg, according to the FAO.

--Drew Cherry

 

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Disastrous year for Namibian sardines

All the sardines caught in Namibia are sold for direct human consumption as a canned product, but last year there wasn’t much to sell.

The Namibian total allowable catch (TAC) and actual landings are as volatile as it gets  -- in 2006, the country had a quota of more than 25,000 metric tons, but didn’t land anything. A year earlier, in 2005, it had the same quota and caught the lot.

Over the last two years, both quotas and catch have declined due to bad weather conditions. In 2014, the TAC was 30,000 metric tons and landings hit 100 percent, but in 2015 the quota went down to 25,000 metric tons, with landings also reaching full allowance.

"2016 was a disastrous year for sardine catches," consultant David Russels said. The quota went down to just under 15,000 metric tons, and catches were no more than 4,000 metric tons.

--Lola Navarro

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Thursday, March 9,  9.30 a.m. CET

Statistics back US potential

"Simply by looking at the market size of the United States and its seafood intake you can see the huge potential there,"  said Alf Helge Aarskog, CEO of Marine Harvest.

Salmon, for example, is the kids’ favorite fish species, and if children try it in formats like sushi, “there’s no reason why they wouldn’t choose it over a burger.”

Research shows that 78 percent of people in the United States like the taste of salmon, but they eat an average 15.9 grams or one portion a month, which is 6 percent of the recommended seafood intake.

There are many food scares, and that is why it is the companies’ job to ensure food safety throughout the chain, and transparency is the key to disconnect that fear.

Marine Harvest supplies salmon every day to every state, and it is constantly investing in new plants to have better coverage.

The goal is to achieve the success pre-packed food is having in the European Union. In Germany, for example, Marine Harvest's sales of pre-packed seafood have increased seven fold in three years, Aarskog said.

--Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, March 8, 6 p.m. CET

Kontali: Mixed outlook for whitefish supply

Overall whitefish supply is projected to grow by around 2.5 percent in the coming year, nearly all of the growth a result of aquaculture growth production, according to Ragnar Nystøyl, CEO of research group Kontali.

Over 18 million metric tons of whitefish were brought to market last year – a two million ton increase in a period of just four years.

Of that volume, around 1.5 million metric tons was from the farmed sector. It was groundfish that gave last year its biggest volume growth – hake, haddock and Alaska pollock.

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The Alaska pollock industry continues to struggle on price levels, with market prices for frozen fillets to EU from February to the year prior showing a decline. Over the course of four years, prices are down 6 percent in US dollar terms.

Cod continues to fetch remarkable price premiums compared with earlier years, both in Iceland and in Norway.

Farmed whitefish production in 2016 was a mixed bag. While the total rose by more than 50,000 metric tons, tilapia showed volume growth, while pangasius fell.

Tilapia’s gain, however, was not in the traditional US market. Import volume declined by its highest level in a single year ever last year – falling 66,000 metric tons.

 The US now accounts for just 10 percent of global tilapia production, Nystøyl noted.

On the other side of the ocean, it’s pangasius facing a consumption decline. Volumes into Europe will soon fall below 100,000 metric tons, and that certainly won’t be helped by recent controversies over its health and quality.

The seabass and bream supply appears to be on the rise for 2017, Kontali said.

Expect the cod supply to be on a bit of a roller coaster. While in Norway the quota remains the same, poor weather could impact harvesting.

Iceland, where the strike kept much of the quota from being collected, is now pushing to catch up. Both Norway and Iceland are behind on quota, and whether or not they’ll reach the finish line remains to be seen.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, March 8, 5.45 p.m. CET

Aquaculture without wellboats? Maybe in the future

Salmon farming companies in the north of Norway recently signed an agreement by which companies committed not to transfer live fish from the North to the South, in an effort to reduce the disease spread between the different areas.

Along these lines, top executives discussed that in the future the plan would be to reduce, if possible to a minimum, the transportation of live fish to the processing plants.

"We should limit the transport of live fish," said Geir Molvik, CEO of Cermaq. "Although it could take 20 years to implement a change like that."

Alf Helge Aarskog, CEO of Marine Harvest, agreed that an "almost wellboat-free industry where all the fish are killed at the site” could be the solution.

“But right now, it is important that smolt is locally supplied to reduce the transportation of the fish and limit any disease spread,” he said.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, March 8, 4.45 p.m. CET

Namibian hake applies for MSC

The Namibian Hake Association recently signed an agreement with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for an assessment, Peter Pahl, CEO at Seawork, said.

An audit is expected to start at the end of April -- and the MSC Notification Report already confirmed that there are no major hurdles to a successful certification.

"That doesn't mean that we will get it but it's a good sign," Pahl said.

Total allowable catch for Cape hake -- South Africa and Namibia -- is currently at 301,000 metric tons.

"I expect the TAC of southern African hake to remain within the 280,000 to 310,000-metric ton range over the next few years, he added.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 8, 4.40 p.m. CET

Cape hake prices jump -- and will continue to grow

Demand for cape hake "rocketed" in recent years, driving up prices, Peter Pahl, CEO of Namibian firm Seawork, said.

The average price of a skinless portion was about €3,500 per metric ton 10 years ago -- today it's sold at €5,000 per metric tons.

"And in my opinion prices will continue to increase by at least 15 to 20 percent over the next few years," he said.

Looking ahead, Pahl said he believes there will be more and more value-added products on the market.

"The average size of cape hake in Namibia is rather small compared to other regions and processors have come to realize that the value addition of small fish is vital for the growth and performance of their companies," he told the audience at the whitefish seminar this afternoon.

New products include moulded loins and recomposed fillets, folded steaks and goujouns.

Another interesting trend, driven by Seawork, is hand filleting. The company introduced it about 10 years ago.

Pahl said advantages include improved yields, improved quality, ability to fillet smaller fish, enhanced appearance and job creation -- which is badly needed in Namibia.

In addition, this will continue to push cape hake products into higher price brackets, which is offsetting higher labor cost, Pahl said.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 8, 4.15  p.m. CET

Norway: leave regulations where they are

“There’s no way around it,” said Alf Helge Aarskog, CEO of Marine Harvest, “When you’re dealing with biology, you need strict regulations.”

Aarskog joined Per Grieg, Grieg Seafood’s chairman; Geir Molvik, Cermaq CEO; and Roy Angelvik, secretary of state in a panel discussion at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum.

"I’m not in favor of regulations, but in some areas like fisheries and aquaculture, history shows us that they are the main factor for our success." said Angelvik.

"In other countries where regulations are not that strict, they have some problems that luckily we don’t have."

Top executives agreed that regulations in Norway are strict but correct, and that they need a shift in focus.

Grieg's Grieg said more policing and coordination among the industry should be adopted as well. Aarskog also suggested a bigger focus on technology to achieve new ways of farming that are more effective against sea lice.
According to Molvik, more cooperation between authorities and the industry on the consequences of regulations would be benefitial.

“It is important that smart regulations are applied, not to respond to bureaucratic needs but to improve practices,” Aarskog said. 

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, March 8, 4.12  p.m. CET

Salmon doesn't sell itself

“Seeing the current trend, it seems like salmon is selling itself, but it isn’t,” said Henning Beltestad, CEO of Norwegian giant Leroy.

“It’s hard for people in the market to explain to customers the increase in prices; for farmers it is easy, but the people working in exports and sales are really driving the demand for salmon."

There’s a need to create demand, and that’s done by creating products and marketing them in an attractive way, he said.

Leroy’s success in Spain through its contract with Mercadona is an example of how value creation can lead consumption, he said.

“This is creating demand, no one eats whole fish," he said. "There’s a real opportunity if we really start creating, and they’ve done it fantastically in Spain.”

-- Lola Navarro

 

Wednesday, March 8, 4.00 p.m. CET

Expect more price volatility in 2017

After a year of highs in the salmon industry, contract prices are going up with renegotiations and losing share to spot sales, said Ragnar Nystøyl, CEO of Norwegian analyst firm Kontali.

Although 2016 represents splendid basements for improvements -- especially at current prices -- the industry must be cautious about expecting too much, he said.

“Buyers will be more cautious and demand is affected by a loss of competitiveness, but the industry will still manage to maintain high price levels,” Nystøyl said.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, March 8, 3.45 p.m. CET

The outlook for hake? That's a stable one

If there's a stable whitefish fishery in the world, then it's hake.

According to the supply figures, presented by David Troncoso Garcia-Cambon, director at Nueva Pescanova, at this afternoon's whitefish seminar, global supplies settle at 1.19 million metric tons this year, only slightly down from the quota of 1.82 million metric tons in 2016.

Argentine hake will account for 290,000 metric tons of supply, North Pacific hake for 335,000 metric tons, Cape hakes for 285,000 metric tons, European hake for 120,000 metric tons, and South Pacific hake for 102,000 metric tons.

Europe consumes about 500,000 metric tons of this, with a strong focus on the Mediterranean, and particular Spain.

Nueva Pescanova itself is relaunching its hake products with a new packaging and Pescanova brand this month, Troncoso Garcia-Cambon said.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 8, 2.48 p.m. CET

Russia-Norway cooperation: Trade is vital

The Russian-Norwegian cooperation in the high north -- the Barents Sea -- is a prime example for cooperation on fisheries management between two countries.

But even the best cooperation can't live without trade, Otto Gregussen, secretary general of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, said this afternoon, referring to Russia's import ban.

"To us, the next and much needed step forward in the cooperation between Russia and Norway includes normal trade.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 8, 2.35 p.m. CET

Iceland’s aquaculture adventure has just begun

Iceland’s new fisheries minister, Thorgerdur Katrin Gunnarsdottir, gave a strong message to attendees at NASF: Iceland’s aquaculture industry is ready to grow.

Wild fish still remains the dominant driver for the country’s seafood industry, but Gunnarsdottir said aquaculture – salmon and trout in particular – will likely continue to grow in importance.

"In Iceland, we’ve been trying for decades to develop aquaculture," she said. But given the challenging conditions, "we’ve mostly seen failure. But now the prospects look brighter than ever."

It’s not just coldwater species – the island country’s massive geothermal energy reserves means that land-based species, including warmwater fish, have a future as well.

The challenge is how to develop the sector in the right way, Gunnarsdottir said. The industry not only has to work alongside the wild-capture sector, but also ensure impacts on the country’s pristine coastline are mitigated.

-- Drew Cherry

 

Wednesday, March 8, 12.55 p.m. CET

Taking it to the people

Deutsche See’s new online strategy is transferring its b-2-b expertise into the b-2-c sphere to offer consumers a more clear idea of why and how they should purchase seafood, CEO Hartwig Retzlaff said.

By delivering seafood to consumers with the same ethos as it supplies wholesale buyers, retailers and foodservice companies, consumers will return for purchases both online and in-store, he said.

“Fulfillment excellence will make customers return on and offline,” he said.

Will the rise in pre-packed in online sales herald the end of the fresh fish counter? Retzlaff wasn’t sure, but “radicalizing” traditional aspects of fish that consumers equate with quality might.

“I think there’s a future for the counter through the Internet,” Retzlaff said. “People become more adventurous, curious and more educated, and they will challenge the counter people.

The bottom line is, the industry needs to focus on changing consumers’ minds about seafood and how they buy it.

“For 30 years now, we’ve been trying to increase consumption of fish and we did not succeed,” he said. “We need to get into their minds and change their behavior. Internet and direct communication is the best way.”

-- Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, March 8, 12.42 p.m. CET

Price, price, price

FranceAgrimer’s Jermone Lafon gave attendees at NASF some clues to how to grow the €7 billion in household expenditure on seafood – or at least how to keep it from falling.

“What really matters is the price, sorry to say. Price does matter,” Lafon said.

Retail sales of salmon fell 20 percent because of the spike in prices last year – a clear direct correlation, he said.

Price isn’t the only key challenge – availability is as well.

“For retailers, there is a sourcing problem, not only with the price but the guarantees on the volume,” he said.

-- Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, March 8, 12.34 p.m. CET

French wholesaler enters the sustainability race

By 2020, wholesaler & food specialist company Metro Group will have 80 percent of its seafood species certified under global standards.

The company trades 100 percent of its fresh fish every day to more than 20 different countries from its headquarters in France.

Sustainability is one of the biggest challenges, especially with so many competing standards, but a growing demand for certified food is a strong driver for the company's commitment.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, March 8, 12.33 p.m. CET

Tell the truth, but tell it well

Deutsche See CEO Hartwig Retzlaff gave attendees at the NASF summit a lesson in selling seafood: tell the truth, but tell it well.

Deutsche See’s natural frozen fish fillets focus on clear packaging and clear visibility for consumers.

“No photoshop, no cosmetic surgery, no make up,” he said.

The company makes a clear connection between the sea and the fish on the table, he noted. That means consumers have as complete a picture as possible of the value and benefits of purchasing the product.

The proof that the plan is working? Nielsen stats show a decrease in turnover for frozen fish fillets in the German market, while Deutsche See is seeing a 12.5 percent increase within that segment. In retail alone, frozen fish fillets have fallen 6.7 percent, while Deutsche See has seen an 11.8 percent rise.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, March 8, 12.20 p.m. CET

50 shades of blue

Andrew Streeter, UK retail consultant and food packaging specialist, had some harsh words for seafood processors and marketers this morning.

Pre-packed seafood packaging is lacking innovation, missing incentives for consumers, and doesn't give enjoyment or pleasure.

During a field trip across Europe's supermarkets he found that all that is applied to the packs is the color blue -- in various shades.

"Your packaging typically contains and protects when it could do so much more for seafood," he said.

Packaging can drive seafood growth, he said, but current mainstream packaging typically commoditizes seafood, except in a few examples such as The Saucy Fish Co.

"Consumers want life-style packaged brands," he said.

"If there’s no change, your markets could and would die out, literally. Packaging application is a huge opportunity," he said.

"Move to life-style driven packs. You have to challenge your branding, which is missing."

And the timing for the change is a good one, he said.

"You’ve got receptive consumers and change could be made now. Packaging should contain and protect but it should move the argument on."

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 8, 12.15 p.m. CET

Target it right, phrase it simple

Speaking to an audience of seafood experts, Claire Nuttal, UK consultant and expert in consumer insight, addressed a few issues in the industry that can easily be turned into opportunities.

In terms of macro-trends in food consumption there are certain benefits the industry can easily capitalize on.

"Health as currency, where the buck stops, and the new puritanism,” are the three macro trends Nuttel pointed out in a diagram of health trends going forward.

Seafood has it all.

Companies can highlight fish attributes, in particular its remarkable Vitamin D content  -- which is more sought after than omega 3s --  and send a simple message, package it right, create an attractive brand and very importantly, "target your audience."

The sports nutrition industry, female nutrition, and baby food are examples of specific sectors with nutrition requirements that fish is very suitable for.

The seafood industry has the product and has a story to tell, and it's time to tell it right.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, March 8, 11.15 a.m. CET

Brexit? Expect dramatic changes

There’s an “extremely uncertain time” ahead for the UK fishing and seafood processing industry in light of Brexit, Emiko Terazono, online commodities editor at the Financial Times, told the NASF audience this morning.

“I hope everyone will gain something from Brexit in the years to come,” she said. But what exactly these gains will be is still unclear.

“What we know so far is that negotiations will be around access to resources versus access to markets,” she said.

The United Kingdom has some power, as it can claim the huge UK Exclusive Economic Zone, but it might have to give away some of that access in turn to have continuous market access to European markets.

But so far no one knows how all this will pan out. What is certain, however, is that quotas management, fishing and seafood trade will be “dramatically altered,” she said.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 8, 10.48 a.m. CET

China: The big unknown

It is time for seafood exporters to look beyond Beijing and Shanghai, said Asbjorn Warvik Rortveit, director of marketing insight and market access at the Norwegian Seafood Council.

"The new opportunities in China are  beyond imagination; and we are not only talking about opportunities brought by the well-known emerging middle-class, higher salaries and the struggles Chinese processors are facing as their key advantage – cheap labor – fades away," he said.

In a nation that’s been hit and stained by food scandals in almost every industry, the population trusts imported food more than domestic products, unlike most of western countries, he said.

Ninety-one percent of the respondents to a 2015 survey said food safety was one of the key reasons for preferring imported food. And frozen seafood, a whole new concept for Chinese consumers, is gaining track for this very reason.

E-commerce is the most used channel for Chinese consumers to buy imported food, with 37 percent of the share, ahead of international hypermarkets (33 percent) and international supermarkets (24 percent).

It is known China will be key in future growth, but its full potential is the big unknown.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, March 8, 10.19 a.m. CET

A tale of short-sighted ocean policies

One of the biggest challenges to sustainable oceans are “the short-sighted policies all around the world,” Sissel Rogne, CEO of the Institute for Marine Research, said.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is regulating global oceans, giving individual states the right to access marine living resources and obliging them to protect and preserve the marine environment.

However, implications of these regulations are neither well specified and not well implemented in laws, she said.

And with changing oceans, new initiatives are needed, Rogne urged.

Northern nations such as Norway will need to share and export their technology and sustainable management legislation to other countries to keep harvesting in a sustainable manner.

"But the time is very short,” Rogne said. “The oceans are changing very fast and the changes are dramatic."

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 8, 10.06 a.m. CET

A plea to the seafood industry

Peter Thompson, president of the UN General Assembly, was blunt in a video message sent to delegates at NASF on Tuesday.

Introduced by UNIDO Director General Li Yong, Thomson was clear in his plea to the seafood industry to contribute to the solution to climate change and depleting oceans.

"The momentum required to reach our goal is with us," he said inviting attendees to participate in the Oceans Conference to be held in New York from June 5 to 9.

The UN Sustainable Goal 14 (UNSG14) is one of the 17 objectives set for 2030 in the development agenda adopted by all UN nations, which will be center to talks at the upcoming event.

"Oceans are facing increasing pressure, threatening their health and the lives in them. We have the opportunity to reverse the cycle of decline oceans have entered. We have the opportunity to remedy these matters," Thompson said.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, March 8, 9.45 a.m. CET

Norwegian fisheries minister: Let's be patient

The future holds "incredible" opportunities for the Norwegian seafood industry, Per Sandberg, minister of fisheries of Norway, told delegates this morning.

But -- and there is always a but -- there are challenges both in terms of supply and markets.

Political shifts all across the world, trade barriers and short-term challenges such as sea lice in Norway's salmon industry will continue to characterize this year, Sandberg said.

While export value is on the rise -- hitting NOK 91.6 billion last year -- volumes are stagnating, he said.

"There is no use in producing and harvesting large quantities of fish if you have no consumers wanting to buy your product," Sandberg said.

"We depend on trade agreements, such as with the EU, our biggest market by far. At the same time we target new markets, better agreements and fewer barriers for seafood exporters."

Sandberg highlighted Russia, a market that has been closed to seafood exporters for 2.5 years. "I'm optimistic this market will open again for us."

China was also restricted for some time but with normalizing relationships "we give it priority" as a large seafood market once again, Sandberg said.

Brexit will also be a challenge "at some point" and the Norwegian government is working to ensure access to the British market.

New markets will also remain a focus, Sandberg said, highlighting Iran, where he sees a potential for Norwegian technology, knowledge and seafood.

"But when it comes to opening new markets, we have to be patient," he told the NASF audience.

Overall, he believes, 2017 will be an important year for the seafood sector. "We will take the industry a step forward."

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Wednesday, March 8, 9.22 a.m. CET

Seafood more political than ever

In an industry that will never be a stable environment, 2017 comes as a particularly challenging year, affected more than ever by political, social and economic factors.

US President Donald Trump and the many likely changes in the global seafood sector that will come from his administration pose one of the biggest uncertainties the industry will have to deal with.

“Protectionism doesn’t sound like something that will encourage economic growth,” Guus Pastoor, chairman of AIPCEE, said.

Another political turnaround, Brexit, could have an impact not only for EU/UK trade agreements, but also for the position of the European Union -- which imports 55 percent of its food -- with other third-party countries and market confidence.

“Brexit is going to be very complicated and uncertain -- two economies which are strongly integrated will have to be disintegrated, and market confidence is going to be affected,” Pastoor said.

In this environment, companies have to look for solutions that work for them as they are, at the end of the day, the ones contributing to the economic growth, he said.

--  Lola Navarro.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2.50 p.m. CET

The much needed financial muscle

Marine Harvest’s Oyvind Oaland, Parliamentarian Ove Trellevik, the Mayor of Osteroy Jarle Skeidsvoll and Nofima’s Bendik Fyhn Terjesen joined a panel moderated by IntraFish Editor Joar Grindheim at the seafood innovation day.

In a debate about developing licenses and sustainability, panelists agreed there’s been challenges and there’s still room to grow.

“Regardless of who has more applications, the results are beneficial for all -- small, medium, big companies -- as well as the industry as whole, its workers and the environment,” said Oaland.

The developing licences provide the financial backbone needed in this crucial part of aquaculture's future, but will they increase sustainability or just production growth?

The industry, panelists said, is sustainable but there is room for improvement in many fields especially disease and mortality risks. Biological costs are one of the great challenges in the industry, but innovation is there to help overcome these issues in every aspect.

The licences foster the creation and application of new technologies, and although it’s early to determine whether they’re living up to expectations, the many projects being presented are a sign that the initiative was needed.

One question was unanswered, however: Why are there so many rejections? Are the rules for applicants not clear?

Perhaps that is something that needs a bit more of work to make the most of the project.

-- Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, March 7, 2.45 p.m. CET

Salmon innovations? They are happening

If you thought nothing was happening in aquaculture innovation, think again.

Salmon giant Marine Harvest Norway is perhaps one of the bravest -- and most capable -- companies investing in this field.

Oyvind Oaland, global director for research and development at the company, named six different projects run on inshore, offshore and on-land aquaculture innovation.

Innovative smolt solutions, post-smolt phase investments and sea farming projects such as the molnes, the ship, the beck cage and the well known concepts of the egg and the donut, are only examples of where the aquaculture industry is headed.

Closed, semi-closed and open systems are being developed and assessed by authorities to finally overcome the challenges the young industry faces.

“There will be a great variety of technologies available to us, and they will go along with improvements in the way businesses operate,” Oaland said.

--Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, March 7, 2.30 p.m. CET

Investing in seafood? That's a yes

Still unsure if you should invest in seafood? A graph showcased by Pareto Securities' Petter Dragesund this afternoon could make that decision a lot easier for you.

Over the past five years, seafood investments on the Oslo Stock Exchange jumped 350 percent, compared to 65 percent for other traded companies.

Most investors are now "forced to have a view on the seafood sector," he said, as the industry has become increasingly important on the stock exchange.

In 2005, seafood investments accounted for 1.15 percent. This grew to 3.94 percent in 2010 and finally 7.6 percent this year.

Today, three seafood companies are among the 15 biggest companies listed in Oslo, including Marine Harvest, Leroy and SalMar.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, March 7, 1.48 p.m. CET

Mesopelagics -- the fishing industry's next frontier?

Talks about the huge potential of mesopelagic fish -- which live in ocean depths of about 200 to 1,000 meters -- have been going around the fishing industry for years. But so far, no real results have been achieved.

What are the hurdles? Well, it starts with the basics, Tor Klevjer of IMR in Norway said.

There's no real data on the biomass and science on migration patterns is largely missing, he told the audience at today’s side event on the prospects for increased sustainable harvest from the ocean.

The latest large-scale scientific research came from the FAO in 1980, which estimated the overall mesopelagic biomass at 1 billion metric tons.

Klevjer called it “an underestimate," telling the audience biomass could range between 6 billion to 200 billion metric tons.

“We have many questions before we can give good advice on the sustainable harvest of these eco-systems, and perhaps have to start with getting reliable data on the biomass,” he said.  

“It’s a huge biomass out there, but very thinly distributed over large volumes. The main obstacle is how they’re going to catch this in a sustainable way.”

 Torbjorn Torvik, senior advisor at the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, agreed saying research is “at a very early stage.”

The directorate nevertheless has a “strategy in the making,” focused on laternfish and silvery lightfish in the North Atlantic.

“There are knowledge gaps and if it’s going to develop into a fishery we need scientific advice,” he urged, adding there is a “keen commercial interest” to develop a mesopelagic fishery.

Key factors for success or failure are the further accumulation of knowledge through systematic scientific research as well as experimental fishing by commercial vessels, he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, March 7, 1.10 p.m. CET

What’s next for vaccinology?

"We’re going to see quite a lot of changes going forward,” Morten Norstad, CEO of Pharmaq, told his audience at the seafood innovation conference at NASF.

In 2017 and beyond, more and more alternatives will become available to fish farmers, he said.

The main shift will be towards live attenuated vaccines, genetically modified inactivated vaccines and genetically modified live vaccines, while classic inactivated technologies will become less important.

In Europe, authorities are “hard to convince” on these three fields, Norstad said, but according to him, the industry will have many of these solutions available within the next 12 years.

“Diseases are more and more complicated, and these are good tools to deal with current challenges,” he said.

--Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, March 7, 11.19 a.m. CET

Visualizing innovation

These are very interesting times when it comes to innovation in fish farming.

There are many new projects coming to the scene, which is why Helge Bjordal, CEO of animation and visualization company NagdellD, finds it imperative to visualize products, to convey the message in an approachable way, and to showcase an idea so that everybody understands it.

After a demonstration on how visualization can attract people’s attention, Bjordal told his audience; “We can defy weather, we can make your cages fly; we can toy with everything and do anything you want to express your idea in a way people will understand.”

In four steps, paper, 3D, mapping and animation, NagdellD can create a product that is not only fun, but that can also serve as a plan before prototyping a product, he said.

--Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, March 7, 11.10 a.m. CET

'Frontline' digitalization

Per Erik Hansen, CEO at MT-Aqua, made a strong case for fish farming digitalization this morning.

"How can we improve fish health and improve efficiency? Just by replacing pencil and paper on site," he said.

MT-Aqua developed a solution to collect data digitally, with three applications: on site, mobile and desktop.

"We need a mobile workforce," Hansen said. "Everything has to be documented, and that needs a lot of planning, which is difficult and time-consuming. This means, the industry is ‘just in time’ which often is too late."

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, March 7, 11.04 a.m. CET

Sea lice? A drone can help

The idea that temperature and oxygen conditions change dramatically in a matter of meters within a cage struck Andreas Morland, CEO of Seasmart, seven years ago.

He then started to work on a system that can measure the conditions of the cage, while being easy to use, simple to install, and completely maintenance-free.

The solution? A drone that works by pulling in water to self-submerge and pulling out water to go back to the surface, while measuring temperature, oxygen, and fish density at different depths, every hour, every day for a week.

Once on the surface, the drone emits information that is updated online.

The information provided is highly useful in salmon farming, he said.

Due to the correlation between oxygen, temperature and stress, an algorithm works out the different levels of stress at which fish is at every moment considering its position, and the conditions of that location in the cage.

“With accurate information about these parameters, there is a better chance to reduce stress and increase fish appetite," Morland said. "This can drive the fish to the bottom of the cage in search of feed, and reduce its exposure to sea lice.”

--Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, March 7, 10.45 a.m. CET

Get the funding right

Norway’s new development licenses, new geographies, land-based fish farming and marine ingredients are the biggest areas in aquaculture which open up opportunities for innovation, Anne Hvistendahl, head of foods and seafood at DNB, told the audience this morning.

But while countless good ideas are floating around, many are facing hurdles in terms of getting funding -- especially at an early stage.

"A smart idea is not innovation until it’s taken into use,” she said. “That means financing is an integral part. Without funding there’s no innovation."

So how to go about getting money? Hvistendahl had some suggestions.

Equity is primarily needed at an early stage, she said. It could be personal savings, or a private share issue. Partnering up with an industrial player could also work.

In addition, DNB is an obvious choice, she said. The bank launched several initiatives such as offering a start-up coach, crowd funding initiatives, funding partners and DNBNXT.no, which she described “Norway’s largest meeting place for investors.”  

Government funding and bank debt financing could also work at an early stage, while corporate banking initiatives are offered at a later stage, she said.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, March 7, 10.10 a.m. CET

Aquaculture enters the cloud

Fish farmers, feed producers, and innovators are collecting data every day -- but so far there has been no way of accessing it all in one, secure place.

This is soon to change, Einar Wathne, president of Cargill Aqua Nutrition, said this morning, while kicking off the Innovation Day at NASF.

"One of the big gaps identified last year was; what do we do with all that data that we collect every day, especially on sea lice," he said.

This is why the NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster is about to submit an application for the 'AquaCloud,' which he described as "one secure database," which is trying to "drain all the knowledge out of this big set of data."

The NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster will conduct a pilot this year, and "hopefully" will be able to kick off the project next year, Wathne said.

--Elisabeth Fischer

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Tuesday, March 7, 8.45 a.m. CET

NASF 2017 kicks off in Bergen

Another year has passed and the global seafood community is back in Bergen, Norway, for the 12th edition of the renowned North Atlantic Seafood Forum (NASF).

Continuing the main theme from last year's event, this year's conference is again focusing on global seafood trade and market access -- as well as seafood in a new geopolitical role.

Topics such as Brexit, China and market consolidation are just a few on the agenda, with a wide range of high-profile speakers exploring the subjects.

Tuesday's Day Zero features a workshop on seafood innovations in the aquaculture industry, as well as a side event on the prospects for increased sustainable harvest from the ocean.

Click here to see the full conference program.

To recap on all the news from last year's conference click here.

--IntraFish Media

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