Pescanova USA makes splash with pollock pasta, branzino products

Guided by parent company Nueva Pescanova’s strategy to push deeper into its “Big Six” markets, which includes the United States, and with the goal of reaching USD 1 billion (EUR 909 million) in U.S. sales, Pescanova USA has launched several new frozen offerings.

While featuring several different seafood species, the new products have a common theme of all having a strong value-added component. Making the biggest waves at the 2022 Seafood Expo North America, where the products were publicly debuted, was the company’s Protein Pasta, which is made from Alaska pollock and comes in four flavors: Original, Tomato Basil, Lemon Pepper, and Garlic Basil. The pasta will be distributed nationally through several broadliners in the coming months, according to Pescanova USA Vice President of Marketing and Product Development Garrett Digney.

“Its great-tasting, no-guilt pasta,” he told SeafoodSource. “We believe the market timing is right, given the growth in frozen seafood in last couple of years through [the] COVID [pandemic]. Consumers looking for healthier options, and we think we’ve gotten the flavor and colors right. We’ve fixed some of the weaknesses of other fish-based protein pasta – it’s closer to the taste of a wheat-based dry pasta. It has that al dente pasta bite that consumers love. It has received extremely high scores in our consumer testing.”

The Protein Pasta based on Pescanova's La Pasta del Mar line, developed by the company’s chef, Ángel León, and first launched in Spain in 2021. Pescanova USA Vice President of Finance and Administration Kyle Webb said the Protein Pasta represents an important step for the company, as it shows Pescanova’s breadth of reach.

“We expect it to be big,” he said. “It’s a high-protein, low-carb pasta that can stand as a center-of-the-plate protein alternative. It’s a good solution for consumers looking to move away from wheat-based pasta.”

Also making waves at SENA was Pescanova USA’s, line of branzino, which includes Mild and Flaky, Lemon and Wine, Tomato and Garlic Sauce, as well as a Pesto Sauce option that was chosen as a finalist for the Best New Retail Product in the 2022 Seafood Excellence Awards competition.

Additionally, Pescanova USA has launched a Cape hake product that it is hoping will interest broadliners and restaurants as an alternative form of whitefish, especially as cod and haddock prices continue to rise and becomes harder to source due to quota reductions and trade barriers with Russia.

“Hake is a big protein for Pescanova, since we own and operate the fishing vessels that catch it off the coast of Namibia. It is processed in our own facility in Spain and is 100 percent a Pescanova product, so it’s really important for us since it’s so tied into our identity,” Webb said. “It’s a very clean, mild whitefish, and we think it’s the perfect time to introduce it into the U.S. into what we see as a gap in the market, as it’s getting harder to find other whitefish available. We think large retailers and other customers are going to recognize that hake could be a solution for them over next six months to a year, minimum, and as a result, we think consumers are going to see a lot more hake in the U.S. than they have previously.”

Another product touted by Digney as being the result of Pescanova’s vertical integration is its Argentine red shrimp.

“American consumers are getting more familiar with Argentine red shrimp, and they’re finding they its soft, buttery, lobster-like texture,” Digney said. “It’s definitely a different seafood experience than vannamei shrimp, so there’s a little effort required to educate consumers on that item, but we feel like it’s poised to grow both in retail and foodservice.”

Digney said Pescanova USA is also building on the success of its Toss & Serve Shrimp, which were introduced in 2020 as part of the “Value-Added 2.0” strategy conceived by Pescanova USA President CEO Chris Maze to introduce more innovative value-added products into its U.S. product line-up. The line comes in three flavors: Salted Butter and Garlic Sauce, Chipotle Sea Salt Sauce, and Citrus Herb Sauce.

Other items introduced as part of that strategy, including Pescanova’s Chilean Sea Bass Portions and Cooked Octopus Tentacles, have also done well through the pandemic’s seafood-buying surge.

“Our Chilean sea bass had a tremendous year with foodservice coming back and has great program for us,” he said. “Our Octopus Tentacles are doing great as well. They’re cooked octopus tentacles, with two tentacles per pouch, and they’ve been great for foodservice customers.”

Webb said the rollout of the new products will give the American market a better opportunity to see and taste the full range of what Pescanova can offer, echoing Chris Maze’s 2019 comment that “vertical integration is the company’s best asset.”

“We’re showing the rest of the industry and our North American customers what Pescanova really is – a vertically integrated seafood powerhouse with our own fleet, vessels, farms, and processing plants,” he said. “If you need traceability, sustainability, someone who actually owns the quotas or farms, access to resources, we’re a company you should take seriously.”

Photo courtesy of Cliff White/SeafoodSource


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