Leroy Seafood Center ups ante for European seafood production and distribution

Rodé Vis, a subsidiary of the Norwegian Leroy Seafood Group, announced on Monday, 11 February the opening of the Leroy Sefood Center in Urk, Netherlands. The new processing and cold-storage facility, built with state-of-the-art technology, sets the standard for what a seafood production facility should look like, according to company CEO Tjeerd Hoekstra.

The purveyor of smoked and fresh salmon products opened the center, its fifth processing facility, on 6 February, and Hoekstra said with the expansion, the company is “ready for the future.”

“We have taken a major step that can secure the ongoing success of our company,” Hoekstra said in a press release.

Rodé Vis became a part of Norwegian salmon farming giant Leroy Seafood six years ago, following the retirement of its founder and owner Albert Dekens. Leroy Seafood Group is the second-largest salmon producer in the world and Norway's largest fish exporter. The group has 3,800 employees worldwide and had sales of EUR 1.77 billion (USD 2.18 billion) in 2016.

In addition to adding 11,000 feet of processing capacity to the operations of Rodé Vis, the new seafood center will also function as deep-frozen storage for all Leroy plants, and as a logistics hub for the other four Rodé Dutch production sites.  In addition, Leroy Seafood  plans to move part of its whitefish processing and logistics into the Urk facility in the future, according to the company. 

“The seafood center will be the Leroy Seafood axis in Europe," Rodé Vis sales director Elias Bosma said. “We are not only closer to the European market and located close to Schiphol, the largest European airport, but are also close to the container ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, all of which makes Urk ideally suited as a European logistics center."

The new factory is equipped with the latest processing technology, maximizing efficiency and food safety, company officials said. It has separate handling areas for its raw and processed products and its fully automatic processing and smoking systtems are designed to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.

“Our processing lines, cutting technology, and packaging lines are fully automated. This makes us competitive with the Eastern European market by limiting the labor factor. In the new location more engineers than production employees will be working,” Bosma said.

Hoekstra said with food safety of upmost importance to the company, the new facility was built to take into full account the latest best practices and regulations. 

“Shelf-life will become shorter in the near future because of European regulations, while salt reduction requirements are becoming more stringent. Salt is essential for the shelf-life of smoked products. In combination with the shortened shelf-life, this means that you need to have a strong logistics hub, with the shortest possible distance to the market, in order to guarantee the best possible taste and quality,” he said. “This new location gives us the opportunity to get products on the market in the shortest possible time and to meet the requirements of our customers.”

The facility also takes into account its environmental impact, Bosma said.

“With the exception of our freezing capacity, our production is completely energy-neutral, which has resulted in our receiving the Dutch Green certificate,” he said. “What will happen here in the future is quite unique, and we are therefore a global pioneer. Leroy Seafood Center is the Tesla of European salmon production.”

The substantial investment in the new facility was made possible primarily due to Rodé Vis’ integration into Leroy Seafood, Bosma  said. The move allowed the company to vertically integrate its supply chain, achieving greater transparency and cost control, As a result, Rodé Vis now has control over the complete value chain, from egg to plate, Bosma said.

“We serve all markets out of Urk, from retail to foodservice,” he said. “We can guarantee that the raw materials are ensured in the backward chain. As a result, we are also a good partner to larger customers and generate a significant increase in turnover each year.”

A focus on those larger customers was the primary reason behind the new construction, Rodé Vis CFO Gerrit Wakker said .

“The new business premises will be mainly used for the volume market,” Wakker said. “[Our] remaining four facilities remain fully operational and focused on specialties. With the new location we will double our capacity.”


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