French households turn to value-added

Innovators looking to target the French market should drive further into value-added seafood products, hints a new report from the European Commission.

In its snapshot of Europe’s fish-processing industry, the report’s close-up on France found that French households are buying more processed products such as smoked and salted fish as well as refrigerated and frozen products.

“Fish product innovations could also offer new outlets for an increasing demand,” said the report’s authors.

Compiled by Europe’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), the annual report relies on the provision of data from the 22 European countries with coastal waters. Member states are obliged to provide data on their respective seafood processing sectors. But in the case of France, the report authors make the remark that missing data for France does not allow analyzing in detail the French fish-processing sector.

This comment notwithstanding, 214 French seafood processors — coupled with 51 firms with which fish processing is not the main activity — pulled in a combined turnover of EUR 3.1 billion in 2008. The figure represents a slight fall from EUR 3.2 billion in 2006. Employment for the sector also decreased in the same period, from 13,829 people in 2006 to 12,000 employees in 2008.

According to the report, the French seafood-processing industry is concentrated, and an example of the 80:20 business ratio. In 2008, 20 percent of companies drew in 80 percent of the total turnover. In terms of company size, nearly 80 percent of businesses employed fewer than 50 people in 2008.

With regards to products, the main segments for French seafood processors (in decreasing value) are cooked shrimp, surimi, smoked fish, salted fish, dried fish and frozen seafood and, lastly, canned fish.

With a voracious hunger for salmon in particular, French imports for seafood products far exceeded exports in 2008. The country imported nearly EUR 4 billion worth of salmon, shrimp and tuna in 2008, with Norway, the United Kingdom and Spain mainly feeding the market. By comparison, France exported EUR 1.4 million worth of seafood products in the same year. Exports are dominated by tuna (20 percent), with Italy and Spain the country’s main customers.


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