The trade body representing French fish processors is digging in over its demands that the government recapitalizes their businesses, at the same time rejecting a plan put forward to shore up their sector.
Demand for out-of-home eating collapsed as France went into lockdown in March and the public ran to supermarkets to stock up on frozen and canned foodstuffs, fearing a long period of confinement in their homes to combat the spread of coronavirus. The resulting collapse in business sent several seafood companies reeling.
L'Union de Mareyage (L'UMF) Francais said its initial efforts to convince the government to recapitalize the sector have gone nowhere, while conditions attached to support measures for processors under an official plan are overly strict restrictive.
"L'UMF considers the envisaged mechanism as largely inoperable for members. We demand that the government reviews its too restrictive conditions in order to obtain an effective level of support for processing businesses," the trade body said in a statement posted on its Linkedin page.
After an initial fall off in business of 80-100 percent, seafood processors in France have stabilized their turnover at between 50-100 percent of normal levels.
Restaurants have only recently been given the go-ahead to resume serving diners at reduced capacities.
L'UMF said the outlook for foodservice remains "fragile" with little prospect of knowing when things will return to normal.
IntraFish has recently reported mixed fortunes for French processors.
Boulogne-sur-Mer based fish smoker JC David nearly halted production after foodservice demand fell off a cliff but has since recovered with the help of orders from local fishmongers.
Seaabass, seabream and turbot producer Gloria Maris Groupe turned its attention to production of pre-packed products for retail after seeing its foodservice dependent business slide by 80 percent amid the coronavirus health crisis.
Fresh whitefish supplier Novo Food said it has seen a 30 percent increase in business for pre-packed fish products during the coronavirus lockdown period, mirroring a national trend in the French market.
French fishing firm Scapeche, which supplies the Intermarche and Netto chains as part of the Les Mousquetaires group, says its production lines for pre-packed fresh fish have been running at full capacity.