French firms dominate 2018 Seafood Excellence Global awards

French companies Labeyrie Fine Foods and J.C. David took the top prizes at the 2018 Seafood Excellence Global awards, recognizing their smoked salmon and haddock products as the best being exhibited at Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday, 24 April. 

Labeyrie Fine Foods, of Saint-Geours-de-Maremne, France collected the Best Retail Product award for its Christmas Smoked Salmon. J.C. David, of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France won the grand prize for Best HORECA (hotel/restaurant/catering) Product for its White Smoked Haddock. The winners were selected from 40 finalists by a panel of seafood experts, who ranked the finalists based on taste, overall eating experience, packaging, marketability, convenience, nutritional value, and innovation.

Labeyrie’s Christmas Smoked Salmon was produced on a limited basis specifically for holiday-season entertainment. The farmed salmon used for the product is sourced from Lapland, in northern Finland. It is rope-hung, dressed with Christmas spices, then smoked with beech and chestnut wood. The judges noted the salmon’s delicate balance of spice and smoke and praised its “elegant, eye-catching” package.

J.C. David’s White Smoked Haddock is sourced from a Marine Stewardship Council-certified fishery in Iceland. The fish is lightly salted, then smoked for 20 hours in wood ovens, following a traditional Icelandic method. The judges noted the exceptional quality of the product, and “the care and respect given to the fish throughout the production process.”

In addition to the grand prizes, the judges also announced five other awards, which were also presented at the Seafood Excellence Global awards reception on 24 April. The special awards, recognizing products exhibiting outstanding qualities in the categories of health and nutrition, convenience, innovation, retail packaging, and best seafood product line.

The winner of the award for health and nutrition was a product from another French company, Globe Export of Rosporden, France. The firm’s Frozen Spirulina Pearls, produced using a new method of preserving microalgae that retains all the nutrients in spirulina, requires no additives, and does not distort the taste, according to the judges.

“With high levels of vitamin B12 and protein, the spirulina pearls have the rich umami flavor of fresh cheese and a beautiful natural green color,” the judges wrote.

The Seafood Excellence Global special prize for convenience was awarded to Open Blue of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada for its frozen, individually vacuum-packed, Sashimi Grade Cobia Fillet. 

“A premium whitefish with a mild, buttery flavor and year-round availability, cobia is ideal for a wide variety of restaurant and foodservice applications,” the judges wrote. “Its firm texture makes it particularly well suited for raw dishes such as sushi, sashimi, and poke. The fish also has a naturally high healthy fat content, making it very difficult to overcook.”

Viciunai Group of Bruges, Belgium was awarded the Seafood Excellence Global special award for innovation for its Surimi Lasagne Sheets.

“Made from the highest quality surimi and packed in an oven-ready tray, the sheets are high in protein, low in carbohydrates and gluten-free. They require no cooking and can be used directly from the package to make any type of lasagne. The sheets are cut in two, making them perfect for two servings, or to make two different types of lasagne in one tray,” the judges noted.

Clearwater Seafoods of Windsor, United Kingdom was presented the Seafood Excellence Global special award for retail packaging for its Bacon Wrapped Scallops. 

“Created for entertaining, these wild-caught, MSC-certified Canadian sea scallops are frozen-at-sea within one hour of capture, then wrapped in a locally-sourced, hand-cured pancetta,” the judges wrote. “The package features attractive and accurate product photography, a product viewing panel, and clear product benefits and preparation instructions.”

Iceland’s Finest of Reykjavik, Iceland won the Seafood Excellence Global special award for seafood product line. The company’s Iceland’s Finest Starters includes kits for Creamy Masago Bites, Crunchy Caviar Bites, and Rich Langoustine Soup. Each product provides three key ingredients and step-by-step instructions to prepare the unique product choices at home. According to the company, the line was developed for medium- to-high-income urban consumers who follow food trends, but don't have cooking experience.

The judges for the 2018 Seafood Excellence Global competition included jury chair Debby Verheyen, seafood and frozen food coordinator for Ahold Delhaize in Belgium; Damien Castagnier, buyer of fruits, vegetables and seafood for Monoprix in France; Lubomir Brandejs, seafood category manager for Globus in the Czech Republic; Sandy Anderson, senior buyer of fresh and frozen food for Elior in the U.K.; Luca Grosoli, food buyer for Sodexo in Italy; and Arnaud Lasplaces, fish and seafood manager for Classic Fine Foods in Hong Kong.

The winners and finalists are on display in the Patio, stand# P-4619 at Seafood Expo Global and Seafood Processing Global, which runs from 24 to 26 April.


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