Clama sees China moving from processing waypoint to end market for premium seafood

The leadership at Clama, the food wing of the family-owned Mahnke Group, once saw China as a processing waypoint for seafood. Now, that viewpoint has shifted completely, with processing moving to Eastern Europe and China becoming an end market for premium seafood from Europe.

Justin Hambleton, managing director at Clama, said at the ongoing Seafood Expo Asia that his firm is getting more of its processing done in neighboring Poland rather than in China. 

“People are tired of having shrimp of variable quality with different chemicals,” Hambleton said. 

Hambleton said Clama has already shifted its mushroom business from China to Poland and he foresees his company’s processing of Alaska-sourced salmon headed the same direction. 

“Our salmon processing isn’t there yet, but it’s on the way [to being moved from China to Poland],” Hambleton said.

Meanwhile, the firm’s sales of organic shrimp from Bangladesh are increasing fast, Hambleton said, adding that consumers’ buying choices are being changed by a constant drip feed of food safety scandals – news of which disseminates rapidly through the internet.

“They are willing to pay more for guaranteed quality,” he added.

Having long used China as a sourcing and processing center, Hambleton said his firm now sees China as a promising end market for its products.

“We are looking at the Chinese market for a quality European seafood product, which we would sell to the Chinese gift market,” said Hambleton. “It will be a premium European product. We are not going to sell sardines in tomato sauce – this the Chinese can do themselves.” 

Clama is testing demand for its wares in the China market with a stand at Seafood Expo Asia, taking place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center from 5 to 7 September.

The company’s showcase at the expo features current bestsellers in Europe including its canned sardines and tuna, as well as tuna ready-meals and fish pate. 


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