Spain’s trout farmers are defending the sector’s export capacity in the wake of a statement that they “should not demonize imports” made by José Manuel Fernández Polanco, marketing professor at Cantabria University.
In suggesting during Aqua2012 earlier this month that farmed trout imports to the European Union have contributed much to market stability, Fernández Polanco’s statement led Spain’s Fish Farmers Organization OPP to highlight its expertise since the 60s as trout breeding pioneers supplying the internal EU market, its industrialization and product transformation within the sector, quality control and exports, especially to Germany.
“Practically all the internal market has been supplied by domestic production,” said an OPP representative. “Trout are gutted, placed in individual bags, packaged in four different weights, coated and frozen. Spanish trout acquired great prestige and Spain appeared as a reliable supplier in quantity and quality. We improve production levels and achieve higher productivity ratios and competitiveness than other EU countries, avoiding imports.”
OPP explained that they are not against trout imports, but are against illegal imports from third countries (non-EU) that do not meet EU producers’ requirements, involve economic dumping, fail environmental requirements and food safety standards, and use meat, blood, genetically modified substances and antibiotics in feed composition.
“For decades we’ve had to ensure compliance with these requirements but imports, sometimes successfully, lack border controls,” added OPP. “We continue to see export subsidies of EUR 0.60 (USD 0.78) per kilogram to trout producers in some third countries, or indirect aid to production or the use of prohibited raw materials. We continue to improve our price offers in markets that have traditionally been ours like the German, Swiss, Russian, etc. and see double-digit increases in their [third country] production, while EU trout production, as with the rest of EU aquaculture (excluding Norway or Turkey) stagnates or reverses.”
OPP stressed Spain’s long-established international marketing channels “created with a lot of determination and effort exporting the country's image. These exports allowed our domestic production to grow, stabilize and improve production ratios, the highest in the EU, using the most effective processing technologies which have allowed us to advance the market presenting gutted, filleted, frozen, kebabs, burgers, smoked and atmospherically controlled varieties, with corresponding sales advantages to adapt to demand and add value."
“When [third countries’] skinless, boneless frozen panga, for example, is sold at a retail price of EUR 3 (USD 3.90), possibly with an original price of EUR 1 (USD 1.30), how can we compete under these conditions?”