Q: What's your take on the remainder of 2020? Has the pandemic affected the tuna market?

A: 2020 has been a complicated year for the tuna market. In terms of fishing, European fleets have had great problems in ensuring that crews are properly replaced in a way that guarantees their safety in the current COVID environment.

The significant reduction in commercial flights, the necessary quarantines and the difficulty of landing in some ports have resulted in a considerable increase in costs and a major reduction in fishing periods and therefore in catches.

On the other hand, market prices have remained low, given the abundant supply of raw materials from Asia, where there is a fleet that does not operate with the same standards of social sustainability and which has continued to supply the market at a time of contraction in consumption in the Horeca sector.

Alberto Gros is the head of operations at Atunlo. Photo: Atunlo

Q: What challenges do you foresee in 2021?

A: Next year is expected to be similar to 2020. Fishing and producing with the appropriate safety standards that the pandemic requires, translates into an increase in costs that is increasingly difficult to transfer to the market, which in the meantime is supplied from other origins with more lax standards.

Our main challenge for 2021 is to convey this message to the market: fishing and producing in a sustainable way, not only from a fishing point of view but also from a social standpoint, is not significantly more expensive, but it does have a cost that we must put into value.

Q: One of your recent marketing campaigns references #SosTunability. What does it mean, or what makes it different from sustainability?

A: In last years the European tuna sector has made great efforts in the search for sustainable fisheries. All the fleet and the industry are governed by the strict requirements set by the ISSF, for example, a part of the fleet is already Msc certified and the rest is in the process of certification.

The market recognises these standards and values them.

However, our market does not know and at the moment does not seem to value the high social and environmental standards that the European fleet and industry fulfil. We believe that we must not only be sustainable from a fisheries point of view, but also from a social or environmental viewpoint. That means #SosTunability, taking care of the sea and taking care of our people.

Q: There are plans to launch a new range of tuna products for the retail channel. What are the reasons to develop this new product category?

A: At Atunlo we believe that there is a consumer who demands this type of sustainable product in all areas. And especially in the raw tuna processing sector, where there is not a reference operator that offers a complete range of this type of product.

In this context, we have made new and important investments in our Cambados factory to produce and commercialise a complete range of processed raw tuna products, selecting the best raw material from our shareholders' fleet and always with the aim of guaranteeing the consumer not only a high quality product, but also one that meets the highest fishing, social and environmental standards.

In this first phase we have launched the following formats, which are best suited to current consumer demand for natural tuna products: Tuna steaks, in both individual and family formats; Tuna Tataki for international cuisine lovers; Tuna chunks for stews and rice dishes for more traditional recipes; Tuna cubes perfect for skewers and grilled recipes. With these formats we want to offer consumers cuts that adapt to their cooking style and current needs.