Spain: Seafood sector in full expansion
With a worldwide demand for marine protein which seems to have no limit, the quite relevant Spanish fishing industry is very well positioned and in full expansion.
Although some unknowns fly over, such as the domestic consumption behavior, Brexit or Asian competition, the global demand for marine protein, with its healthy label, seems unstoppable. In this context, the positioning and expertise of the Spanish industry is very powerful.
This moment of euphoria can be perceived in a special way in Vigo, the epicentre of this sector in Spain, with large expansion projects, refrigeration plants at 100% of their storage capacity and an activity at the shipyards typical of the seventies.
In recent times, higher domestic consumption, one of the weakest factors in the Spanish sector, has even joined. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, referring to household consumption, while fresh fish and shellfish experienced declines of 4.2% in volume and 1.5% in value, frozen seafood managed to grow 2% and 5.1% respectively (Figs. 1, 2 and 3) in the period between July 2017 and June 2018.
Fig. 1. Domestic consumption of fresh seafood
Fig. 2. Domestic consumption of frozen seafood
Fig. 3. Domestic consumption of canned and smoked seafood
In this twelve-month period, household consumption of frozen seafood (not including cooked products) approached 216,000 tons, equivalent to €1.85 billion.
To these figures, sales in foodservice, channel that is going through a good time in recent years, exports and industry transactions must be added. All these parameters are taken into account in the main operators ranking, prepared by Alimarket (Fig. 4). The top 100 operators have sales of just over 1.4 million tons and almost €7.6 billion, with growth in both cases of around 5% with respect to 2017.
Fig. 4. Top 50 operators in the Spanish frozen seafood sector
Supermarkets push frozen fish sales
Frozen seafood progression goes hand in hand with the transfer of sales from traditional fishmongers to grocery retail, mainly supermarkets. According to the ministry’s report, sales of frozen seafood in supermarkets, self-service and discount stores grew almost 7% in volume and 10.6% in value. So much that these establishments now account for almost 70% of the amount sold and 66% of income.
The current expansive cycle of the fishing industry differs from others experienced in the past. Previously, there was excessive dependence on sales channel in Spain. With a no border commercial vision, limited resources and growing international demand, retailers in any country are looking for partners who have direct access to fish, from extractive activity to marketing, able to guarantee a continuous supply and homogeneous product quality. As if that were not enough to guarantee the business of fishing groups, markets with great potential are opening up, such as the US, where fish consumption is booming, and the Asian market, where demand exceeds supply.
Having all that in mind, fishing quotas and extractive capacities have become a real treasure.