Spain introduces seafood barcode system


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
March 9, 2009

The Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA) and Spanish Association of Commercial Codification (AECOC) recently announced standardized barcodes for fresh seafood. The new system and its impact on the seafood industry are receiving mixed response from Spanish seafood companies.
When asked what, if any, changes will be made to product labeling, packaging design, traceability and marketing, Julio Doamo Vázquez, director of quality and food hygiene of Grand Canaries wholesaler and retailer Freiremar, said: "My business considers the barcode as a fundamental tool for the correct control of seafood stocks. Daily, our stores move great quantities of fish, and incorporating barcodes in product labels guarantees that we know exactly to whom each box sold has been delivered.
"Due to the great diversity of species, origins and product types, [seafood is] especially difficult to trace, and it is therefore especially important to use efficient traceability tools," added Vázquez. "For Freiremar, the incorporation of barcode number 128 is currently causing difficulties in managing the required information. To implement it correctly, we have to provide adequate data processing systems sufficiently powerful to ensure that the information collected is available both clearly and rapidly whatever the situation."  
Asked how he thinks the barcode system will benefit Spanish seafood suppliers compared to other European and international companies, Vázquez responded: "In my point of view, Spain has a competitive advantage for its shellfish and fresh fish over other countries - our advantage being the natural quality of our products. This quality is highly valuable in the international market, clearly differentiating it as fish originating from Spain in contrast to other countries. In order to obtain better product prices, certification of origin is a good base for traceability. The codification of fish and shellfish using barcodes will be very efficient in assuring clients of the origin of Spanish products, giving them confidence that they are paying for a product that really is of higher quality."
By contrast, Barcelona-based Grupo Videla is waiting for the barcode system to develop before implementing any changes to product labeling.
"At present, for products in our sector (fresh seafood), the barcode is hardly used," said Montse Videla, Grupo Videla import-export director. "Only certain lines such as fresh seafood trays are presented with barcodes, although for the moment these are incorporated at point of sale by outlets themselves."

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