For Scottish salmon, Label Rouge is king

Demonstrating the value of quality-linked labeling schemes, French traceability insignia Label Rouge is bringing gains to Scottish salmon producers.

Under the aegis of the French state, Label Rouge requires a list of tight requirements manifested through an official sign of quality.

In 1992, Scottish salmon became the first non-French food to receive the red label, and now more than 7,100 metric tons of Scottish salmon bearing the label is produced annually.

“Scotland’s Label Rouge salmon is perceived as a premium product, and demand is high. Our recent production is a new record,” a spokesperson for Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organization told SeafoodSource at the European Seafood Exposition.

With demand buoyant, the Label Rouge producers hope to drive sales deeper in France, and to see gains from emerging markets.

“The market is mostly in France where awareness of the label is strong and represents about 90 percent of sales, but we are also seeing demand from elsewhere,” added the organization, which has set “ambitious targets” for the following months.

In terms of awareness penetration, according to the state’s figure tracker Credoc, the Label Rouge has a 91.8 percent level of “notoriety.” With an emphasis on quality and traceability, the label provides a certain differentiation when compared to similar products as well as a potential price premium for the producer.

Four Scottish producers — Marine Harvest, Loch Duart, Scottish Seafarms and Sea Products of Scotland — feed the market for Label Rouge salmon. Approximately 70 to 75 percent of the Label Rouge salmon market in France is fresh, with the remainder soaked up by smoked salmon sales. France recently sharpened traceability rules for the label, and since 2006 all Label Rouge smoked salmon must now be smoked using only Label Rouge salmon.

The quality scheme is broad and attracts a large range of foods, including beef and poultry, bread, fruit and vegetables, honey and cheese. In terms of seafood, the Paris-based Aqualabel, an association of aquatic Label Rouge products, claims that 20 different seafood products bear the label, including prawns, oysters, turbot, bass, scallops and sardines.

The French state has defined a rigorous traceability dossier for each of the production processes bearing the Label Rouge insignia, with regular external audits exercised to keep the process in check. A poultry farm earned the first Label Rouge in 1965, and today more than 500 products bear the label.

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