Spanish crayfish specialist Alfocan growing despite sharp market swings

Alfocan General Manager Nicolas Roux standing in the company's booth at Seafood Expo Global
Crayfish specialist Alfocan is working to expand the reach of its products in Europe and beyond | Photo courtesy of Alfocan
4 Min

Seville, Spain-based crayfish wholesaler and producer Alfocan has kept its focus squarely on the small crustacean since 1987, and has risen to become the country's top producer.

Each year, Alfocan farms over 4,800 metric tons (MT) of crayfish, and established a second production plant in Egypt in 2017.

Alfocan General Manager Nicolas Roux told SeafoodSource during the 2024 Seafood Expo Global, which ran from 23 to 25 April in Barcelona, Spain, that the company exports its products to almost every country in Europe – from the U.K. to Ukraine.

“Each country has its own crayfish tradition,” Roux said.

Alforcan also sends crayfish to the U.S. and China – two countries outside Europe that heavily consume the product.

“The U.S. is a big market because the U.S. consumes more than they produce,” Roux said.

A drought in the U.S. state of Louisiana has severely limited U.S. production, driving up demand for Alfocan’s products, Roux said. 

Roux said consumption in China has dropped after a boom in popularity over the past decade, which saw prices rise steeply, to the point where even China’s military entered crayfish production. Some Chinese companies established byproduct-processing facilities to maximize their profits.

“In 2018, 2019, it was huge. Guys just overinvested and opened restaurants, and every streetcorner would offer crayfish,” Roux said. “This has normalized to some extent. Those were good years for sales, but at the same time, raw material costs added up very quickly.”

The Covid-19 pandemic complicated market dynamics in China, further contributing to the cooling effect now hitting the country's crayfish market.

“What we hope now for the industry and for our niche in particular is for more stability and steady growth, as opposed to the big swings,” Roux said. “I think that’s the best for the product as well.”

In the meantime, Alfocan has been working to produce more value-added products, and it's working to make crayfish more desirable to younger customers.

“We see that for crayfish to be appealing for the generations to come, you have to keep it interesting,” Roux said.

The company is developing value-added products with Asian spices or Asian-inspired sauces, and Roux said many retailers are asking for ... 

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