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Conxemar 2018: Catch up on three days of European seafood news

Now in its twentieth year, Southern Europe's biggest seafood trade show is once again taking place in Vigo, Spain, this week. Check back here to get the latest from the show floor.

Thursday Oct.4 3.37 pm CET

Belgian shrimp importer eyes new species to make first moves into Spain

It is Belgian shrimp importer Seacorin’s first time at Conxemar, as it looks to finally break into the Spanish market -- but not necessarily with its staple product.

The company is tagging along with Spanish distributor PPI Frozen Foods, through which it hopes to distribute its products on the market.

“So far we’ve not done a lot of business in the south of Europe, specifically Spain, so this is a good opportunity for us,” said Hans Lannoo, a partner at Seacorin.

The Spainish market has very specific products and is not at all like the rest of Europe, where we do a lot of vannamei business. In Spain it is more targeted at species such as octopus, squid and Argentinean shrimp,” said Lannoo.

Seacorin, meanwhile, mainly deals with imports of vannamei and black tiger shrimp from southeast Asia.

“So we are here to define an assortment of products for the Spanish market. For example, we can use our contacts in Asia to supply big size cuttlefish, squid and scallops, species that we are not selling at the moment.

Conxemar has also thrown up other business opportunities for Seacorin in countries such as Portugal and Italy, Lannoo said.

Seacorin was founded in September 2014, and has undergone rapid growth, posting €25 million ($28.8 million) in turnover for 2017.

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Thursday Oct.4 10.31 am CET

Goodbye Mr Fisk?

With Marine Harvest taking over the VAP business of Scanfisk it could spell the end for Mr Fisk, the latter’s branded range relaunched at Conxemar two years ago, and which had a short-lived dabble with e-commerce giants Amazon and Ulabox in 2017.

“The future of the Mr Fisk brand will need to be discussed,” Angel Garcia, CEO of Scanfisk, told IntraFish.

Read the full story here.

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Thursday Oct.4 10.22 am CET

Marine Harvest, Scanfisk: 'Together we can do more'

Marine Harvest’s recent tie up with Spanish whitefish trader and processor Skanfisk seems like a win-win situation for everyone, although there are still some details that need to be ironed out.

The deal will see Scanfisk supply Marine Harvest will all sorts of whitefish – predominantly southern European species such as hake, cod, bass, bream and cuttlefish – for value added processing (VAP).

Read the full story here.

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Wednesday Oct.3 5.58 pm CET

Pescapuerta: Spanish companies compete more on price than innovation

Spanish frozen seafood group Pescapuerta, which saw its revenue grow 13 percent in 2017 to €215 million ($246 million), will “continue its plan to consolidate and source directly from the origin,” Jean Baptiste Chassin, commercial director at the company told IntraFish.

Chassin said the main focus will be to continue with its strategy of ensuring a steady supply of raw material from third-party suppliers, which he believes is the key to profitability.

“In the case of the Spanish market, in general the main challenge is the very tough competition,” said Chassin.

There are still many seafood operators in Spain doing similar things, which makes the market tough, and companies end up competing more on price than innovation.

“The classic products on the Spanish market are relatively basic products with only a few exceptions -- for seafood in Spain there is not a lot of value adding, said Chassin. “It is a vicious cycle where we all compete on price, pushing it down and down.”

So the main challenge in Spain is to be able to keep a reasonable profitability. “This is where it pays to be close to the raw material and source directly,” said Chassin.

Pescapuerta processes at origin and imports most of its products so it does not have industrial activity in Spain.

"We believe fish should be processed at origin if possible, it is better to cooperate and have good supply relationships, to try to get the best competitive position. So we will continue with our model of having good links with origins".

Pescapuerta sold 67,000 metric tons of products in 2017, of which 67 percent was fish, 25 percent was shellfish, and the rest value-added production.

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Wednesday Oct.3 3.08 pm CET

Skipjack prices likely to fall further

As the ban on fish aggregating devices (FADs) in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) comes to a close -- and fishing is expected to pick up -- skipjack prices are likely to drop even further in the coming weeks, according to Anthony Kim, vice chairman of the World Tuna Purse Seine Organization (WTPO) and head of sales and marketing at Cosmo Seafoods Company in Ghana.

Currently prices for skipjack in Bangkok are between $1,650 (€1,433) and $1,700 (€1,476) per metric ton, but if more supply materializes they will probably fall further, he said.

“We want to get over right now $1,700 but the big companies such as Thai Union are resisting hard,” said Kim.

In October 2017, skipjack prices were much higher at around $2,300 (€1,997) per metric tons.

“Now the FAD closure has just ended, everybody is waiting to see what will happen to prices; in General Santos they are already over $1,700,” he said.

In the three months of the FAD ban, fishing has been really poor this year and catches have really dropped, according to Kim.

Cosmo Seafoods' cannery, which is based in Tema in Ghana, is owned by the South Korean company Silla, which operates the Panofi fishing fleet of six purse seiners, also in Ghana.

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Wednesday Oct.3 1.52 pm CET

Findus Spain lacking in fish

Despite being part of Nomad Foods -- which is big in frozen fish in many markets across Europe -- Findus in Spain has a very tiny footprint in seafood, Javier Silva, brand manager at the company told IntraFish.

In fact, 90 percent of what Findus does in Spain is frozen vegetable products, “and less than 5 percent is fish,” he said. When you consider the company’s turnover is around €85 million ($97.8 million)), this is not a lot.

Click here to read the full story.

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Wednesday Oct.3 1.34 pm CET

Squid crisis forcing companies to switch to ‘pre-formed’ products

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.

Click here to read the full story.

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Wednesday Oct.3 12.48 pm CET

Indian processor eyes massive expansion

Indian shrimp processor Chirag International is looking to expand its operations significantly in the coming years through a strategy of both boosting its processing capacity and “backward integration" into into hatcheries, farming, and feed production,” according to the company’s managing director Vipul Agarwal.

Click here to read the full story.

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Wednesday Oct.3 10.14 am CET

Nueva Pescanova eyes new species with focus on boosting aquaculture sales

Only 40 percent of Nueva Pescanova’s sales are from aquaculture products, with the remaining 60 percent coming from wild capture fisheries, and its something its CEO wants to fix within the next four years.

“I want to make this 50/50 by 2020,” Ignacio Gonzalez, CEO of Nueva Pescanova, told IntraFish.

You can read the full article here.

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Tuesday Oct.2 5.49 pm CET

Vici ramping up efforts to boost brand in Spain

Lithuanian surimi giant Viciunai is on a mission to increase its branded presence in the Spanish market, where it is currently “quite weak," according to Ugis Kalnins, general director of the company in Spain.

In line with this, the company is investing €4 million ($4.6 million) in two new lines at its surimi facility in Santander – one for gula and one for snow crab -- which will start operating in October.

Click here to read the full story.

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Tuesday Oct.2 3.52 pm CET

Scanfisk, Marine Harvest partner up

Marine Harvest and Scanfisk signed a partnership agreement with the objective of expanding their business operations and sales volumes in the Iberian retail and foodservice markets.

The partnership will be implemented in the course of the fourth quarter and will enable Marine Harvest to produce pre-packed and value-added fish and seafood products, both fresh and frozen, in Spain for sales to retail and foodservice customers.

Click here to read the full story.

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Tuesday Oct.2 1.52 pm CET

New Spanish group going leaps and bounds

New Spanish group Worldwide Fishing Company (WOFCO) has only been around 2.5 years, but it is growing at a phenomenal rate.

In its first full year results the company posted revenues of €48.5 million ($55.8 million), and it is expecting this to hit “at least” €75 million ($86.4 million) in 2018, Alberto Barreiro, one of the five co-founders of the company told IntraFish.

The company’s main products are squid, Argentinean red shrimp, yellowfish tuna and swordfish, and around 60 percent of its turnover comes from exports to 26 different countries, mainly in European markets such as Spain, France and Italy, but also some in Asia, the United States and Australia.

In March the company bought a processing plant for fresh fish with the brand Marina San Marco, and started selling in July. At the moment the factory processes 150 metric tons a month of mainly swordfish and Patagonian squid for the local market, said Barreiro.

Although new to the market, the company’s five founders – based in China, Vietnam, Ecuador and Spain -- have more than 100 years’ experience combined in the fishing industry.

“We are very happy with the way things are going,” said Barreiro. “Our eyes are wide open, we are feeling the market, to find more opportunities.”

One priority is finding more suppliers, said Barreiro. “Although our partners have a number of vessels, we want to get closer to the source, maybe sign more agreements with other suppliers, or buy our own vessels some day.”

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Tuesday Oct.2 1.40 pm CET

Rodolfo langostino is back!

Nueva Pescanova is bringing back its iconic mascot Rodolfo Langostino through a new range of frozen and chilled Argentinean shrimp.

The production of the “Rodolfos” is an elaborated new system to preserve the quality of the product with an almost hands-free production process from harvesting to packaging.

The new line will be advertised under the catch phrase “Not every shrimp can be Rodolfo,” and under the quality stamp “whiskers guarantee,” the company said.

“A clear sign that the product has not been manipulated is the fact that it keeps its whiskers,” said Ignacio Gonzalez, CEO of Nueva Pescanova.

“That’s why Pescanova created a distinctive stamp for this product range.”

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Tuesday Oct.2 1.23 pm CET

Marfrio diversifies into tuna with new processing plant

In a push to diversify away from the struggling squid sector, next month Spanish processor Marfrio is opening a new €7 million ($8 million) tuna plant as part of a 50/50 joint venture with Atunlo.

The plant will be based in Vila Nova de Cerveira, Portugal, and will have a capacity of 20,000 metric tons per year – making it Europe’s biggest tuna processing plant.

It is Marfrio’s first foray in tuna, company CEO Pedro Otaegui Gaztanaga told IntraFish.

The joint venture will be called Central Lomera Portuguesa, and the plant is 6,000 square meters.

Marfrio, which has two plants already in Spain processing predominately squid and hake, posted revenues of around €80 million ($92.1 million) in 2017, and expects a similar level in 2018.

“We are not expecting revenues to grow as it’s been a few difficult years for squid processing plants,” said Gaztanaga. “Squid is very scarce and plants are having a lot of trouble getting their hands on raw material."

According to Gaztanaga, Marfrio’s squid business has dropped around 30 percent from 6,500 metric tons to 4,000 metric tons.

“So we are trying to diversify our scope of business in order not to depend so much on squid and move into other species."

In addition, Marfrio is also adapting its facilities in Marin, Spain, to store and load tuna, Gaztanaga said.

The new business line will “significantly boost revenues and income,” he added, but he was unable to put a precise figure on it.

While in the process of opening markets, the tuna products -- including steaks and various VAP – are a perfect fit for Marfrio’s existing clients in Europe and South Africa.

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Tuesday Oct.2 11.48 am CET

New Argentinean tariffs to hurt Iberconsa

Spanish hake and shrimp processor Iberconsa is focusing specifically on Argentinean shrimp at this year’s Conxemar show, following its acquisition of Pesquera Santa Cruz in February.

The consolidation is great for both companies and red shrimp prices are high, the company’s commercial director, Fernando Lago, told IntraFish.

“It’s been the first full year, so our main focus today is to close Christmas deals on Argentinean red shrimp products with retailers in Spain, Italy, Portugal, as well as in Asia for Chinese New year,” he said.

However, the recently announced export tariffs in Argentina – which have been in place for four weeks now – are having a significant impact on the company.

The tariff of around 7.5 percent placed on exported processed products until 2020, which includes seafood, will have a negative long-term impact on Iberconsa.

“For every dollar – which is currently around 39 pesos – the state takes 3 pesos,” said Lago. “So for every 39 pesos, we get 36 pesos.”

Argentina is biggest source of EBITDA for Iberconsa “so, of course, it hurts us in the long term," he said. “We will have to pass it on to our markets and customers, who have been receptive so far,” he said.

Iberconsa is not neglecting its Argentinean and Namibian hake products, but the main focus is on red shrimp this year.

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Tuesday Oct.2 11.26 am CET

Iberconsa exec hopeful sale will be completed by year end

Fernando Lago, commercial director at Iberconsa, is hopeful Portobello Capital’s sales process for the company will be completed by the end of the year.

“In terms of the Iberconsa sale, there is not much information I can say – we are in the process so I cannot confirm nor deny who is currently offering or bidding on the process."

According to market sources, though, potential candidates include Chinese conglomerate Legend Holdings, and UK investment fund Pamplona Capital Management, among others.

“I am hopeful the deal will be closed by the end of the year,” said Lago.

Private equity firm Portobello Capital paid €30 million ($35.2 million) for its 55 percent stake in hake and red shrimp fishing giant Iberconsa in 2015, and plans to sell it for €330 million ($387.2 million) by the end of the year.

Iberconsa expects to report sales of €400 million ($469.4 million) in 2018, and reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of €60 million ($70.4 million) in 2017.

It operates 42 vessels in Argentina, South Africa and Namibia, and the world’s largest hake quota, as well as five processing plants.

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Monday Oct.1 4.21 pm CET

Causing more problems than they solve

Most of the commonly used fiscal policies aimed at boosting a developing country’s fisheries sector, simply don’t work, according to Roger Martini from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“They are not properly designed for their objectives, so they cause more problems than they solve,” he said. For example, OECD countries provide $7 billion (€6 billion) per year in support for their various fisheries sectors.

However, landings are down 38 percent, there are 44 percent fewer fishermen, 28 percent fewer vessels, many stocks are depleted and there is a sense of dependence on support policies, he said.

So the different private sectors need to work harder at nailing down what they want from a policy.

“To make a decent policy you must set out the objectives for the sector and recognize the trade-offs – is the fisheries sector intended to contribute to overall economic growth, or is it a tool for something else?”

Fisheries policies can be improved but are resistant to change, said Martini.

Many forms of support under current scrutiny do a poor job of improving fishers’ incomes, but policies that change the distribution of income can be hard to reform once put in place.

“Better options to support fisheries development are available in most cases, but success requires a clear understanding of both objectives and consequences of policy choices”.

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Monday Oct.1 3.06 pm CET

Wild salmon supplies soaring

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Monday Oct.1 3.01 pm CET

Global Atlantic salmon output up 6% in 2018

Kontali’s current estimate for the farmed Atlantic salmon output globally in 2018, is an increase of approximately 130,000 metric tons round weight, equating to between 5-6 percent, according to head of analysis, Ragnar Nystolyl.

Looking at the outlook for all ocean farmed salmonids – including large trout and farmed pacific salmon – the anticipated growth is slightly lower at below 5 percent.

“This implies no growth for rainbow trout, and only marginal growth for pacific salmon,” he said.

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Monday Oct.1 2.11 pm CET

Who's hungry?

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Monday Oct.1 2.00 pm CET

Is China in danger of a whitefish oversupply?

With tilapia and pangasius producers are now both setting their sights firmly on the Chinese market, there is a risk China will end up with an oversupply of whitefish, according to Gorjan Nikolik, senior analyst at Rabobank.

Globally the farmed whitefish sector is growing rapidly: tilapia production is expected to go from 6.3 million metric tons in 2017 to 6.5 million in 2018, while pangasius is expected to go from 2.4 million metric tons in 2017 to 2.6 million in 2018 and 2.8 million in 2019.

However, for the past few years demand for both tilapia and pangasius has been contracting in the US and EU markets because pangaisus has been impacted by bad press in the EU and anti-dumping tariffs in the United States, among other issues.

In addition, the United States, a large market for Chinese tilapia, is also being hit by the Trump adminsgtration's new hefty tariffs on Chinese imports, making tilapia even less competitive than it was before.

Chinese tilapia losing competitiveness in US market means producers have a new focus on the rest of the world, the domestic market and Africa.

As a consequence, the Chinese market is now on everyone’s radar, for both tilapia and pangasius producers.

“The largest market now [for both tilapia and pangasius] by some distance is China – the US and EU have diminishing interest,” said Nikolik.

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Monday Oct.1 12.48 pm CET

Argentina still king of the wild

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Monday Oct.1 12.36 pm CET

Communication is key

The vast majority of tuna stocks are in "good shape", according to John Connelly president of the US-based National Fisheries Institute (NFI), and the public needs to be more aware of this.

Tuna harvests are plateauing at around 5 million metric tons globally, said Connelly, and in a lot of cases there are positive stories to tell in terms of sustainable fishing.

For example, skipjack, which accounts for 57 percent of total tuna harvests with around 3 million metric tons, and yellowfin with 28 percent around 1.2 million metric tons, are both looking healthy. Both these stocks account for 85 percent of the tuna we consume.

Based on the ISSF stock status tool, 80 percent of global skipjack stocks are considered “healthy," while the remaining 20 percent are considered “intermediate."

Although less so, yellowfin stocks also look fine. Around 45 percent are considered “healthy," 35 percent are considered intermediate, while 20 percent need improvement.

“But we need to take all this deep science and translate it into something people understand,” said Connelly. “We need to change how we communicate this data, so the right information is out there and papers stop incorrectly reporting on collapsed stocks”.

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Monday Oct.1 11.58 am CET

Only minor groundfish contraction expected in 2018

For all groundfish species put together it’s been a flat line in terms of production since 2013, according to Rabobank’s Gorjan Nikolik, with catches hitting around 7 million metric tons for three years in a row.

They then increased to 7.3 million in 2016; to 7.5 million in 2017 and the expectation for 2018 is a slight drop to 7.4 million – “but 7.4 million is still the second highest figure in the last 20 years, and nothing to worry about," he said.

From 1998 there was a contraction until 2009, and from then there has been growth pretty much constantly.

For the main groundfish species in Europe, Atlantic cod, expectations for 2018 show a small decline in catches from 1.3 million metric tons to 1.24 million metric tons, said Nikolik, again nothing to worry about.

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Monday Oct.1 11.43 am CET

Russian cod exports to EU surge in 2017

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Monday Oct.1 10.26 am CET

Aquaculture to see 37% growth by 2030

By 2030, production from capture fisheries is expected to hit 91 million metric tons, while production from aquaculture is expected to reach 109 million metric tons, according to Manuel Barange, director of fisheries and aquaculture policy and resources division at the FAO.

While this is just a 1 percent increase in wild capture from 2016 figures, it is a 37 percent growth in aquaculture production, he said.

In 2016, the most recent figures available from the FAO, fisheries and aquaculture production hit an all-time high of 171 million metric tons- 90 million from wild and 80 million from farmed. “This was thanks to stable capture fisheries production, reduced wastage and aquaculture growth,” said Barange.

“Aquaculture production is anticipated to fill the supply-demand gap, but its growth rate will slow down over time.” This is primarily due to concerns, as its population grows, Africa will become a net importer of fish, both in terms of value and volume, said Barange. “I encourage people to invest in aquaculture growth in Africa as the opportunities are there”.

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Monday Oct.1 10.02 am CET

Overfishing still very worrying for FAO


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Monday Oct.1 9.00 am CET

FAO congress kick starts Conxemar 2018

From Oct. 2 to Oct. 4, the 20th International Frozen Seafood Exhibition organized by Conxemar will be held at Instituto Feiral de Vigo (IFEVI) in Vigo, Spain.

Vigo is an important fishing port in Europe which serves as the meeting point for processors, distributors, importers and exporters of frozen seafood products.

3e17a9ba8b06a0e62ada1fb4381cbed1 . Conxemar Vigo. Photo: IntraFish

Prior to the three-day event though, the sixth edition of the World FAO-Conxemar Congress will take place on Oct. 1 addressing the current state of global fisheries, seafood production, and the sustainability of the fishing grounds.

Experts from around the world will participate at the congress, including representatives from the World Bank, OECD, United Nations, World Trade Organization, FAO as well top executives from the private sector.

Speakers will review and analyse the current status of global fishery stocks, the evolution of demand in the major international markets and the sustainability of the fishing grounds.

The congress will again bring together nearly 400 attendees from science, academia, NGOs, government, associations, as well as top professionals from seafood companies worldwide.

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