Viciunai is expecting its salmon smoking division to grow 20 percent this year by winning business from rival processors.
The $600 million (€535 million) company built a salmon processing factory in 2000, first building up business in the Baltic states to today’s 20,000 metric tons of finished products.
“The growth is not coming from consumers, the growth is coming from us taking business away from others,” Viciunai Managing Director Rob Schreur said.
The high value salmon business in Western Europe is a very mature and cautious business, meaning retailers tend to stick with diligent suppliers.
From its early roots, Viciunai built up trust to the point where it has an extensive client portfolio of European retailers. Quality and service are determining factors in the minds of customers besides price, Schreur said.
Having gained the trust of European retailers for its surimi products the processor found it easier to unlock the door for smoked salmon.
Around 80 percent of Viciunai’s salmon supplies are shipped in from Norway, although the company also processes Alaskan sockeye, as well as other wild salmon.
Companies operating in the French salmon market face tough conditions.
Amid competition from Eastern European processors Delpierre, owned by Labeyrie Fine Foods, said it will close the Wiches salmon packing plant in France's eastern Alsace region and shift production to other sites within the group.
The move comes with demand falling for smoked salmon in France and competition from lower cost production operations in Poland that has encouraged supermarket chains to squeeze the margins of processors.