NZ-Philippines JV debuts smoked salmon

Published on
August 26, 2011

Prime New Zealand and Tokyo-based importer Koyo are now offering a new product in the Japanese market: Retail packed smoked salmon slices, made with New Zealand king salmon processed in the city of General Santos, Philippines.

Prime Foods NZ Ltd. formed a joint venture (JV) called Big Glory Bay Salmon and Seafood Co. with Philippine tuna processor Alliance Tuna International. The JV takes its name from an inlet on New Zealand’s southern-most inhabited island, Stewart Island. Big Glory Bay is where most of Prime Foods’ king salmon is farmed. For Alliance, the JV represented a chance to diversify beyond tuna, and, to reflect this, it changed its own name to Alliance Select Foods International.

Prime Foods’ processing capacity was increased by the early August opening of the plant from 300 to over 1,200 metric tons annually. Its primary salmon supplier, Sanford, will also supply king salmon to the Philippine operation. With the pending acquisition of Spence & Co., Big Glory Bay will use the Boston-based firm as a channel to sell its products in the United States.

High prices have been a stumbling block for farmed New Zealand salmon exports, as the king salmon produced there have a lower feed conversion ratio than Atlantic salmon, so lowering processing labor costs by offshoring may help.

The product was debuted at Tokyo’s Japan International Seafood and Technology Expo in late July. The retail packs for Japan emphasize the New Zealand source but do not mention the Philippine processing, though sales literature for the trade does. The importer, Koyo, has dealt in New Zealand green mussels and oysters for several years.

Other smoked salmon products competing for attention at the show included Huon Tasmanian Salmon, which promoted the pristine nature of Tasmania, its low stocking density of 9 kilograms per square meter as compared an average in other countries of 25 kilograms per square meter, and the health effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

Huon Aquaculture Group was established in 1988 by Peter and Frances Bender as a contract grower for fish processors. In 2002, in order to have more control, they launched the Huon salmon brand through investments in processing capability. The company became further vertical integrated when it purchased Springs Smoked Seafood in 2005, which provided smoking capability and access to the retail packaged goods market. Huon is now the largest privately owned Atlantic salmon farming business in Australia and the second largest producer of salmon, harvesting approximately 10,000 metric tons of product annually. At the show, the company promoted Huon Tasmanian Light Smoked Salmon in 50-, 100- and 200-gram retail packs.

Hayashi Trout Farm of Nishigo-mura, Nishihirakawa-gun, Fukushima Prefecture, offered its brand, Maple Salmon. The company offers fresh chilled rainbow trout available 365 days per year, and brought from the water to Japanese customers in one day. But at the show the company promoted its smoked product.

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is the same species as cutthroat trout, and are often referred to in Japan as trout salmon. The company has its own spawning facility alongside the Abukuma River. It originally imported eggs from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, but over 20 years of selection have bred them to be larger.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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