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Russian Fishery plans ambitious shift to value-added pollock production

A sharp cut in fishing quotas and an upward trend for value-added products in the domestic market are sparking radical change.

Russia’s largest pollock quota holder -- Russian Fishery -- is positioning itself to process nearly 100 percent of its catches into value-added products.

With a new Far East fish processing facility (which it dubs simply "Russian Pollock") up and running by 2021 and seven new factory trawlers delivered by 2023, the company will be able to process up to 100 percent of its pollock catches into value-added products, Russian Fishery CEO Fedor Kirsanov said at this year’s Groundfish Forum in London.

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This includes the production of high-margin products such as surimi, he said.

The company plans to use up to 30-40 percent of its pollock catch for fillet production, with a target of increasing the share of value-added products up to 95 percent within the next 5-6 years -- provided its new trawlers are delivered and operational.

The decision is made in part from an expected decline in pollock quotas in the coming years. According to Russia’s Pacific Fisheries Research Institute (TINRO), the country’s overall total allowable catch (TAC) of pollock will face around a 5 percent cut annually, starting from 2020. As a result, the total reduction in pollock quota will reach about 20 percent by 2023 as compared with 2018 (researchers OK'd a rise in next year's quota, however).

"Investment into a value-added processing sector and renewal of the fishing fleet is a cornerstone in the company's development strategy," Dmitry Kravchenko, spokesperson for Russian Fishery, told IntraFish.

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Russians want more value

Growing domestic demand for value-added fish is another important factor taken into consideration by the company in its development plans. Domestic demand for value-added fish is significantly outstripping supply, according to Russian Fishery research.

For example, demand for fish fillets in the Russian market grew 165 percent between 2015 and 2017, while fillet output grew just 35 percent.

"Russia's demand for fish fillets grew 165% between 2015-2017, while fillet output grew just 35%"

In 2018, demand for pollock products in Russia is expected to increase by up to 15 percent, and the upward trend is expected to continue, with an annual increase of 5 percent over the next five to 10 years.

According to the company’s analysis, the share of pollock fillets and mince from Russia will increase from 9 percent to 26 percent by 2025, with a corresponding decrease in the output of whole and headed and gutted (H&G) pollock.

Earlier this year, Russian Fishery revealed its plan to increase the share of frozen at sea (FAS) pollock fillet production by 60 percent in 2018.

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