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EU companies turn to Alaska pollock for ‘pre-formed’ squid products

The battered rings are the company's best-selling product.

The ongoing lack of landings of Illex squid, and the ensuing high prices, are forcing processors to switch their strategy, according to Juan Prieto, international sales manager at Spanish processor Congalsa.

Instead the company – which has annual sales of around €72 million ($82.8 million) -- now sells what’s known as “pre-formed” squid rings, made from a paste mixture of giant Pacific squid (primarily from Peru), Alaska pollock, water and starch. The rings taste just like the real thing, and when battered “they are our best selling product."

“The squid fishing crisis over the past few years has meant processors needed to make pre-formed products instead,” said Prieto.

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Previously the company’s squid rings consisted of 40 percent Illex and 60 percent batter. Nowadays, these “real” products are “double the price” of the pre-formed version, he said.

“Three years ago, 80 percent of our squid ring sales were Illex, today 80 percent are pre-formed, so we have completely switched due to the crisis of fishing of Illex.”

According to Prieto, the trend in the Spanish market at the moment it that of “mini-sized” snacks and appetizers in both the foodservice and retail sectors.

As a result, at this year’s Conxemar, Congalsa launched a range of mini, bite sized, products including “Fishpops” made with cod, hake mini burgers, hake nuggets, and breaded mussels.

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