In France, surimi, frozen fish faring well


Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
March 14, 2011

Opportunities for surimi, frozen seafood and canned fish shaped seafood sales in France last year, while fresh fish sales dipped to 2008 levels.

French seafood agency FranceAgriMer on Tuesday reported a 3 percent fall in fresh fish sales in 2010, on a 7 percent price hike, largely due to salmon prices. But the agency added that “following an atypical year [2009], consumption is once again following trends of previous years.” In 2009, consumers, according FranceAgriMer, bought more fresh seafood products and fewer frozen seafood products.

The change in consumption patterns was due in part to price variations for certain products, plus a strong fall in fresh fish prices and a rise in frozen fish prices, said the agency. While cod sales rose, fresh salmon was hit by a 16 percent rise in prices with sales falling on the back of the hike. In parallel, the French appetite for fresh scallops, which exploded in 2009, fell considerably following a drop in imports from Britain.

By contrast, surimi sales remained buoyant, driving the prepared chilled seafood product category in 2010. Surimi volumes, reported FranceAgriMer, posted a 19 percent rise in 2010. Smoked salmon also captured a healthy 9 percent growth in volumes.

And despite “a relatively high price,” consumption of frozen seafood in France took off in the final three quarters of 2010, boosted by frozen ready-prepared dishes, scallops and natural frozen fish offerings.

Also in 2010, the canned fish category continued to progress, with the French consumer showing a particular penchant for mackerel and tuna.

At the national auction level, the agency reported that improved landings for sardines and anchovies (following a fishing ban) fed into the bottom line for French seafood in 2010, boosting the industry after a tough 2009. Volume sales of sardines rose 5 percent at auction, with a 1 percent average price rise: “This helped the turnover at the country’s seafood auctions rise by 6 percent to EUR 590 million,” said FranceAgriMer.

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