Brussels bound


Steven Hedlund

Published on
April 20, 2009

Seven days and counting to the 17th annual European Seafood Exposition and Seafood Processing Europe. As exhibitors and visitors from across the globe finalize their travel preparations, the SeafoodSource editors are busy gathering news. Here are five things to look out for at the three-day event:
1) New products. Who will win the ninth-annual Seafood Prix d'Elite new products competition for the best new retail and foodservice products? It's anyone's guess. Looking at the winners over the past five years, they've represented eight countries (the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Australia and New Zealand) and at least 11 species (Atlantic and sockeye salmon, trout, pangasius, Pacific halibut, tuna, shrimp, greenlip mussels, American and rock lobster and surimi seafood).
2) Finance difficulties. In the fall, Iceland placed its three largest banks - Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir - under government control to avert a financial meltdown. Glitnir changed its name back to Islandsbanki and discontinued its seafood team to concentrate on the domestic market. The bank's clientele included large European and North American seafood companies that rely on lines of credit to purchase raw materials and to finance receivables. While it may take months, perhaps years, for the global economy to rebound, it's not all doom and gloom in the seafood trade. This month, Islandsbanki, which is exhibiting in Brussels (hall 4, stand 6134), reformed its seafood team and is focusing on mergers and acquisitions. And two financial institutions specializing in the seafood and geothermal energy industries (Capacent in Iceland and Glacier Partners Corp. in the United States) united to form Capacent Glacier.
3) Tuna controversy. No other species is dividing the seafood trade right now quite like tuna. The World Wildlife Fund and other NGOs are calling for the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery, which opened this month, to close. Some governments, including the United States', are pushing for a quota reduction there. Also this month, the WWF dubbed the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting in Indonesia a failure because it failed to adopt effective measures to prevent yellowfin tuna overfishing. Expect the debate over tuna overfishing to heat up in Brussels, including at the second annual European Tuna Conference, which precedes the show.
4) Sustainability debate. Since the European Seafood Exposition debuted, sustainability has evolved from political cause to corporate ethic, crossing into the mainstream. Suppliers and buyers alike are implementing sustainable seafood policies to ensure the products they purchase come from a renewable resource and are harvested or raised in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Two conferences addressing the sustainable seafood movement will be held at the Brussels Exhibition Grounds next week.
5) SeafoodSource onsite. You didn't think I'd make it through this commentary without tooting our horn? Three SeafoodSource editors will be on site at the show to bring you the news as it happens. Among the numerous events we're covering are the European Tuna Conference on 27 April, Seafood Prix d'Elite on 28 April and the two sustainability conferences on 29 and 30 April. If you can't make it to Brussels, check SeafoodSource throughout the day for free news updates from the show floor.
Best regards,
Steven Hedlund

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