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Top 10 seafood trends for 2013 revealed.

As the SEAFEX 2012 November 19-21 draws to a close in Dubai, Caterer Middle East reveals the top Middle East seafood trends predicted for 2013.

But before we get down to the the top 10, here are some fishy facts:

Biggest trends: According to Clearwater, sustainably sourced fish are the most in demand.

Sourcing: Horeca Trade sources from New Zealand since coastal waters and the abundance of natural food resources create ideal conditions for shell fish and aquaculture. Around 650,000 tonnes of seafood are harvested from coastal waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone each year.

Seafood popularity in the GCC: "In this region the per capita seafood consumption is anywhere from five to six times more than the average North American seafood consumption and I think a lot of that is probably historical," says BCG's Davidson.

"You have an arid part of the world here established hundreds of thousands of years ago into almost a desert region. It's very difficult to have any source of protein coming off the land - so they sourced a lot of it from the sea."


US $12K

Blue Fin Tuna was the most pricey fish Horeca was asked to supply


increase in supply of Scottish Salmon in the UAE during 2010

US $66M

rise in seafood product exported from Vietnam in the last two years


1 Shrimp

The one that flips

In 2011 sales of shrimp hit US$35 million, accounting for 13.7% of the total seafood imports from Vietnam. Egypt was the biggest importer with purchase value of US$18 million, followed by Israel at US$4.6 million, Saudi Arabia at US$3.7 million, UAE at US$3.3 million, Lebanon at US$2.6 million and Kuwait at US$2.2 million.

Widespread and abundant, the shrimp can be found feeding near the seafloor on most coasts and estuaries, as well as in rivers and lakes. With a lifespan between one and seven years, some shrimp species are known to flip off the seafloor and dive into the sediment to escape predators.

According to Vietnamese supplier VASEP, the shrimp is considered a luxury in this region with mainly high-end restaurants placing orders for it. Most of its supply comes from Iran and the Levant region.

"There are thousands of species, and usually there is a species adapted to any particular habitat," says John Eapen of Atoz Foods. "Any small crustacean which resembles a shrimp tends to be called one."

Commercial shrimp species support an industry worth $50 billion dollars a year. In 2010 the total commercial production was nearly 7 million tonnes.

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2 Tuna

The endangered one

"I don't think I've ever seen so much canned tuna as there is here," asserts Robert Davidson, president, British Columbia Gourmet Foods.

A saltwater finfish that belongs to the tribe Thunnini, a sub-grouping of the mackerel family (Scombridae), which includes the bonito (Sardini) and mackerel (Scombrini) tribes, Thunnini comprises fifteen species across five genera, the sizes of which vary greatly, ranging from the bullet tuna at 1.8 kg up to the Atlantic bluefin tuna at 684 kg.

Tuna is the third largest seafood item shipped to the Middle East from Vietnam according to VASEP. "In 2011, the region imported US$22 million worth of tuna, accounting for 8.4% of total seafood imports from Vietnam. Iran came first with US$9.7 million, followed by Levant US$5.6 million and Lebanon US$3.4 million," explains Ha Phuoc Huy of VASEP.

"Their circulatory and respiratory systems are unique among fish, enabling them to maintain a body temperature slightly higher than the surrounding water," says Atoz Food's Eapen. "But, as a result of over-fishing, stocks of some tuna species have been reduced, dangerously close to the point of extinction."

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3 Salmon

The loved one

Salmon farming is a huge business in Scotland and continues to be an expanding part of the Scottish economy according to Scottish Salmon. Salmon is the country's largest food export.

All Scottish salmon products to the GCC increased by 25% between 2010 and 2011. While North America was the main export market at 44,454 tonnes, emerging markets including the Middle East and Far East demonstrated the most striking increases.

"2011 was a record year for Scottish salmon exports, increasing to 95,638 tonnes from 78,611 tonnes the previous year. This was the second consecutive year that exports have risen as global demand...continues to grow," says Ken Hughes, Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation.

Its rapid growth has been put down to salmon having a natural source of a long chain of Omega-3 fatty acids.

"The increased popularity of Scottish salmon products continues into 2012 with the total volumes of fresh Scottish salmon almost equal to the previous year's total in the first eight months of the year," asserts Hughes.

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4 Cod

The famous one

In 2011, cod rated the ninth most consumed fish in the US averaging 0.501lb per capita.

"It is one of the products sourced from our part of the world that is quite popular," says BCG's Davidson.

"This is particularly true for any middle to upper end Asian restaurant and for this part of the world Black Cod is very much in demand. It comes from a species that we call butterfish because it's so buttery and oily," he adds.

Okku, Caterer's Restaurant of the Year favours this fish for its Black Cod in Miso Sauce dish.

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5 Crab

The snappy one

According to The Fish Site, Irish exports of fish to the UAE have almost doubled since 2009 and now stand at US$47 million. This growth has been driven primarily by seafood and dairy of which crab is one species in heavy demand.

BCG's Davidson is currently testing the waters for the possibility of exporting Dungeness Crab to the region.

"Pacific Dungeness is a cold water crab. We also have the Queen Crab or Snow Crab - more from the Atlantic, then of course the famous King Crab - more from the northern end of the British Columbia Canada fishing grounds and the Alaskan fishing grounds," he says.

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6 Hammour

The pricey one

Commonly found in the UAE, and a "very expensive fish," according to Eapen of Atoz, the hammour is an endangered species. Current stock in the UAE is 13% what it was 30 years ago.

Education of over fishing however is growing.

The Qatar Ministry of Environment campaigned to control fishing of the hammour to prevent further targeting of it - and to keep it at a steady level of exploitation.

The Choose Wisely campaign uses the "red, amber, green" system and has seen hotels like Starwood label the fish in their buffets this way, enabling guests to make an informed decision as to whether or not to eat the "red" endangered fish.

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7 Scallops

The healthy one

Scallops are increasing in popularity as GCC consumers become more health conscious.

"They're high in Omega-3, fat-free, and considered a high source of protein," says Diana Dobrusevski of Clearwater.

"Many of our scallops are harvested at sea and are individually quick-frozen onboard the vessel within an hour of catch - locking in freshness, flavour and tender texture."

Scallops are most commonly harvested using scallop dredges or bottom trawls. Recently, scallops harvested by divers, hand-caught on the ocean floor, have entered the market. This is more eco-friendly as it doesn't damage undersea flora or fauna.

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8 Lobster

The icy one

Live and frozen lobster is the fastest growing Canadian seafood export to the UAE growing in popularity for its premium quality and reasonable price, says Dobrusevski of Clearwater. This year Canada exported 21,832 kilos of lobster worldwide, as last recorded in August by

Clearwater's Arichat, Nova Scotia facility is home to Clearwater's Dryland Storage facility, allowing it to hold and ship live lobster to its global customers on a year-round basis.

"This patented system mimics the lobster's natural overwintering environment and keeps the lobster in a hibernative state - maintaining their health and full-meated quality," says Dobrusevski.

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9 Pangasius

The reliable one

Pangasius is a term used for a special variety of imported freshwater fish that have become the tenth most popular seafood product eaten in the US. Consumers are eating about 6oz of Pangasius per year and demand for this moderately priced species is expected to continue to increase.

"This is one of the major products exported to the region from Vietnam," says VASEP'S Huy. "The worth is more than US$ 178 million and occupies 70% of the market share. Saudi Arabia purchased more than US$59 million, Egypt US$38 million, UAE US$31 million, and Jordan US$15 million.

"Consumers love the taste of this omega and protein rich fish," he says.

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10 Mussels

The tough one

Mussels are cheap and plentiful and in some parts of the world are often regarded as a "poor man's shellfish."

In the wild they grow in abundance on coastline rocks and stones. In the UK, they are mainly farmed in sustainable coastal waters.

Mussels are one of the most environmentally sound types of fish or shellfish available.

Greenshell Mussels however are found only in New Zealand.

"New Zealand Greenshell Mussels have been cultivated on loglines nestled in the idyllic fiords and remote coastlines of New Zealand," says Marco M Kouch, category meat and seafood manager, Horeca Trade LLC.

"Nurtured in the most natural of environments, and processed to the highest possible standard of quality and safety, they provide for you a unique shellfish taste that is a world away from here."

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Publication:Hotelier Middle East
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Nov 20, 2012
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