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Brussels 2019 Recap: Seafood e-commerce, trade wars, Alaska pollock prices, Chile's plans

The IntraFish team was busy in Brussels last week giving you the latest in seafood news. Find a full round-up here.

It's that time of year again, and the 2019 European Seafood Exposition looks set to be as big as ever.

The IntraFish team is here and will be bringing you all the latest news, insight and analysis on the topics that matter. Please drop by IntraFish booth #5-401 to grab a coffee and say hello, or reach out to us with news and tips at editorial@intrafish.com.

For starters, get acquainted with last month's top stories, so you have the key talking points to start your day:


Thursday, May 9, 2.31pm CET

Farmed shrimp price slump has knock on for wild caught

It is not just vannamei producers struggling with prices right now, Raptis Seafoods' International Business Manager Graham Potter told IntraFish. The global slump is hitting Australian tiger and banana shrimp harvesters too, widening the price difference between vannamei and their higher end wild-caught product. Shrimp farmers worldwide are also leaving their shrimp in ponds for longer, creating larger product which competes with wild-caught species in key markets like Hong Kong.

--Rachel Mutter

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Thursday, May 9, 2.18pm CET

Alibaba cites mind-blowing numbers on seafood sales

In the first hour of Singles Day -- the Chinese retail equivalent of Black Friday -- Alibaba's retail channels sold 1.1 billion hairy crabs and a similar amount of sea cucumbers, the group's Europe GM told IntraFish.

-- Rachel Mutter

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Thursday, May 9, 2.08pm CET

Sanford moves up the value chain

The hoki quota cut of 20,000 tons between New Zealand quota holders late last year removed 3-3,500 metric tons of fish from Sanford’s volumes, but it has given the company renewed focus on better exploiting the product it has, CEO Volker Kuntzch told IntraFish.

As well as harvesting slightly more of the other species it has quota for – orange roughy for one – Sanford is also getting closer to the market with product development, better branding and relationships with chefs, turning it from a frozen volume producer shipping containers to an increasingly high end, value-added producer.

--Rachel Mutter

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Thursday, May 9, 12.27pm CET

Royal Greenland CEO: 'The world seems to be quite resilient in the light of trade wars'

Mikael Thinghuus, CEO of Royal Greenland, talked to IntraFish about the uncertainties in the current political scenario.

“There is plenty to be nervous about,” Thinghuus said.

The company harvests in Greenland, and Canada, both areas are somewhat exempt from current trade wars, but some of its biggest markets are China, and the United Kingdom, both in the middle of great political turmoil.

“Fishing is one of the most international industries, we all have great dependency on trade, but the world seems to be quite resilient in the light of trade wars," he said.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, May 8, 6:31pm CET

Chilean mackerel fish nabs MSC label

Chile's jack mackerel fishery, the world's largest, has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council MSC certification.

After 15 months of follow-up work, Chile becomes the world's first to obtain a certification for this wild fish species.

The fishery was scrutizned on the sustainability of fish stocks, efforts to reduce environmental impacts and the effective management of fisheries.

Jack mackerel is one of the most important fisheries to Chile. In 2018, exports were $166 million (€148 million).

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, May 8, 6:18pm CET

Calysta shows off shrimp fed on natural gas protein in Brussels

Feed ingredients company Calysta said it has joined forces with seafood giant Thai Union to offer the world its first taste of commercially farmed shrimp fed on protein produced from natural gas.

Participants at the Seafood Expo trade fair in Brussels are being offered pan-fried shrimp fed Calysta’s alternative trademarked FeedKind protein.

-- IntraFish

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Wednesday, May 8, 1:17pm CET

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Wednesday, May 8, 13:10pm CET

IntraFish announces 2019 Person of the Year

IntraFish's 10th Annual Brussels Seafood Leadership Luncheon featured keynote speaker Terry von Bibra of Alibaba, and awarded Atlantic Sapphire CEO Johan Andreassen its 2019 Person of the Year award. Read more about what put Andreassen on top of our list, and watch his acceptance speech below.

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Wednesday, May 8, 3:55pm CET

Multiexport's US smoked salmon market share increasing

Chilean salmon farmer Multiexport, which produces 70 percent of Chile's smoked salmon output, is increasingly gaining market share in the United States, with listings in Walmart, Meijer and Sam’s Club already in place, and others to come soon.

The company’s Latitude 45 salmon, developed specifically for the US market, launched in 2018, and has shown positive growth year on year, Martin Hepp, smoked and value-added division manager with Multiexport told IntraFish.

The brand currently accounts for 40 percent of Multiexport’s smoked salmon production, but the company is focusing on increasing its sales share.

Multiexport plans to launch a new product, Candy Salmon, under the brand in the fourth quarter of the year, targeting Millennials.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, May 8, 12:55pm CET

Not enough fishmeal


-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, May 8, 11:37am CET

FIP does not mean certified

Thai giant Thai Union is committed to source 100 percent of its branded tuna production from Marine Stewardship Certified (MSC) grounds, or fisheries under Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs), Francisco Leotte, Thai Union fisheries sustainability manager, said at the MSC Seafood Futures Forum held in Brussels on Wednesday.

In Europe, 96 percent of Thai Union's tuna comes from MSC or FIP fisheries, Leotte said, but only 25 percent comes from MSC-certified grounds.

Experts argued at the European Tuna Conference on Monday that sourcing from a FIP fishery hardly means sourcing from sustainable sources.

“FIPs are sometimes successful, and sometimes unsuccessful, they are projects to help fisheries achieve sustainability, but being on these programs doesn’t mean being sustainable,” said Kristin Sherwood, program director with FishChoice.

--Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, May 8, 11:23am CET

Ramping up production

Ecuadorian shrimp farmer Omarsa will kick off processing at its new plant, Las Brisas, which is only 3 kilometers away from its current facilities, next week.

The company plans to double capacity with the new factory, which will process 400 metric tons a day of whole shrimp for China, and Europe mainly.

-- Lola Navarro

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Wednesday, May 8, 10:00am CET

More, more, more

Spanish fishing giant Iberconsa acquired a new plant in Vigo, northern Spain, with the capacity to produce 16,000 metric tons a year of value-added products and storage space for 3,000 metric tons.

The acquisition follows the purchase of hake vessels, an illex harvester, a processing plant and a storage facility in Argentina. (Read more)

-- Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, May 7, 6:30pm CET

And the top new products at the Brussels seafood show are ...

Belgium-based Viciunai Group and the Netherlands' Kingfish Zeeland claimed the top retail and foodservice Seafood Excellence Global awards at Seafood Expo Global on Tuesday.

Viciunai took home the Best Retail Product award for its Surimi Noodles Wok Style. The product pairs noodles made from Alaska pollock, whiting and hoki with Chinese vegetables and a Korean sauce.

Kingfish Zeeland won the grand prize in the Best Hotel/Restaurant/Catering Product category for its Dutch yellowtail, or kingfish, which is farmed using recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technology and is free of antibiotics. It is also certified sustainable to Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) standards.

The winners were selected from a field of 37 finalists.

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Tuesday, May 7, 4.42pm CET

Beating the global shrimp price slump

For Vietnamese shrimp producer and processor Gallant-Dachan, value-addition is its route to surviving the low shrimp prices globally.

"While others are focused on frozen whole product, we are focused on breading," the company's Le Thi Xuan told IntraFish.

Like increasing amounts of companies at this year's show, Gallant-Dachan is also taking advantage of growing demand in the Korean market for shrimp and other value-added seafood. Korean market share accounts for 40 percent of the company's production, equaling the US market and dwarfing Europe.

--Rachel Mutter

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Tuesday, May 7, 3.51pm CET

Is Brexit nothing to worry about?

Ian Smith, CEO of Clearwater – parent of Scottish scallop producer Macduff – told IntraFish Brexit is something that everyone watches closely, but that “pragmatism will prevail.”

“The European Union is a very important market for UK seafood exporters, and I am confident that it will continue to be this way.”

-- Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, May 7, 2.44pm CET

Icewater Seafoods completes major plant upgrade

Canada-based Icewater Seafoods signed an agreement with processing equipment maker Marel to purchase the $1.6 million (€1.43 million) FleXicut for its 70,000 square foot cod plant, the company announced in Brussels.

The investment is the final piece of a $10 million (€8.9 million), multi-year investment in the Icewater Seafoods facility.

Since 2018, the company has added heading, filleting and skinning machines, as well as an ice management system.

“Icewater is the only processor in North America dedicated full-time to Atlantic cod production and we’re committed to being among the best in the world,” said President and CEO Alberto Wareham.

-- IntraFish

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Tuesday, May 7, 2.04pm CET

How to hire the next generation

Grieg Seafood's Chief Human Resources Officer Kathleen Mathisen sat down with IntraFish to chat about what the seafood industry needs to do to capture a successful new generation of employees.

--Rachel Mutter

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Tuesday, May 7, 1.58pm CET

An act of survival

The merger of Selonda and Nireus into Andromeda is "not to get richer. This is to survive," Andromeda Marketing Manager Achilleas Papadopoulos told IntraFish.

The two companies are in the process of selling assets to meet requirements from the European Commission, which allowed the acquisition on the condition that production capacity of 10,000 metric tons of fish and 50 million fry is sold prior to the merger. (Read more)

-- Rachel Mutter

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Tuesday, May 7, 1.35pm CET

Under pressure

Frozen seafood producer Greenland Seafood is feeling the pinch from rising Alaska pollock prices, and facing the unenviable task of going to customers twice a year, hat in hand, to inform them of higher raw material prices and the upward pressure that puts on their products, Managing Director Patrick Barinet told IntraFish.

"And we are not talking about 2 percent," Barinet said. "We are coming back to them and talking 10, 15 or 20 percent."

The speed of the increase in particular has been challenging, not to mention the on-again, off-again threats of tariffs by US President Donald Trump.

"There is too much uncertainty everywhere," Barinet said.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, May 7, 2.00 pm CET

US-China trade war could benefit Latin American tilapia

A tariff imposition on Chinese frozen tilapia fillets into the Untied States could provide Latin American tilapia exporters with an opportunity, although the price differential would still be considerable. (Read more)

--Lola Navarro

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Tuesday, May 7, 1.15 pm CET

Cobia farmer expects to soon have product on EU shelves

Panama-based cobia farmer Open Blue is making its way to the EU retail market with the launch of a skin-packed cobia loin product expected to hit the shelves this year. (Read more)

-- Lola Navarro

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Monday, May 6, 6.30 pm CET

Alibaba to headline IntraFish Leadership Luncheon

Group General Manager of Alibaba Europe, Terry von Bibra, will speak at IntraFish's annual Brussels Luncheon, giving delegates insight into the latest in online retailing and how to access Alibaba's supply chain and online platforms.

The event, to be held May 8 at the iconic Brussels Atomium, steps from the European Seafood Exposition, will also see IntraFish present its Person of the Year award.

For more information and to sign up click here - but hurry, places are limited!

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Monday, May 6, 6.15 pm CET

EC tuna focus

Senior Reporter Lola Navarro was blogging live on Monday from the European Tuna Conference where the international tuna industry gathered in Brussels to discuss transparency and accountability in tuna trade and global supply chains.

Read the full indepth blog here.

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