France rules smoked salmon scene

France's smoked salmon production grew 20 percent between 2003 and 2007, earning the country the No. 1 slot in the European Union, according to figures recently released by the French agency FranceAgrimer.

The country produced 27,400 metric tons of smoked salmon in 2007, edging out Poland at 22,500 metric tons in 2007. In total, the European Union yielded some 110,000 metric tons of smoked salmon in 2007.

And at 27,000 metric tons in 2007, France is also the No. 1 smoked salmon consumer in the EU, ahead of Germany. Together, consumers in these two countries represent nearly half of smoked salmon consumption in the EU. Additionally, France and Germany consume nearly two-thirds of all smoked trout in the EU.

In terms of market share, the report revealed that four companies, two of which are Polish, controlled more than 40 percent of the EU smoked salmon market in 2007.

"There is a large number of European firms producing smoked fish. However, for smoked salmon, certain leaders are starting to emerge," said the report, conducted by Ubifrance at the behest of FranceAgrimer.

The two Polish firms, Morpol and Suempol, controlled nearly one-quarter of the European smoked salmon market.

"Polish companies increasingly present on the international scene are not hesitating to link up with western European firms," added the report.

Among the other smoked salmon "giants" are Alfesca and Marine Harvest.

"The majority of other firms working in this sector have an average production that does not exceed 1,000 metric tons," said the report.

In contrast to strong growth potential for smoked salmon consumption, smoked trout consumption has stagnated in recent years, with the exception of dynamic growth in Denmark.

"Smoked trout suffers from an old-fashioned image [and] little differentiation from salmon, with a lack of communication and innovation in terms of products," said the report.

Smoked trout production in the EU reached 16,000 metric tons in 2007, with Denmark accounting for one-third of output, followed by Poland and France at 4,500 and 2,400 metric tons, respectively.

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