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With frozen tonnage approaching 260,000, Spanish imports of fish top $1.3 billion.

With Frozen Tonnage Approaching 260,000, Spanish Imports of Fish Top $1.3 Billion

Frozen fish products represented some 22% of the 1.18 million metric tons of seafood consumed in Spain during 1988, according to a report recently published by the FAO Globefish Research Program. With total per capita intake of fishery products put at over 30 kilos per year, frozen's share amounted to 6.55 kg for every person in the 39 million population country.

Written by Dr. J. Varona, The Spanish Catering Market for Fishery Products was prepared as an appraisal for Latin American exporters. But its insights should prove useful to anyone trying to increase sales in Spain.

Despite the fact that the Iberian nation is a major fishing power, points out the author, shrinking landings and expanding demand make it one of the major net importers of seafood in the world. The value of fishery products purchased from abroad in 1989 was put at US$ 1.37 billion.

The following statistics reflect the magnitude of popular frozen products imported in 1988:

* Whole hake, 50,000 MT ($1.97/ kg)

* Hake fillets, 14,000 MT ($1.68/ kg)

* Whole squid, 34,000 MT ($1.81/ kg)

* Whole shortfin squid, 45,000 MT ($1.30/kg)

* Shortfin squid tube, 1,000 MT ($1.63/kg)

Varona explains that the above species compete easily with national production because of size (in the case of hake), or due to the commercial presentation of shortfin squid (tube) which the domestic fleet is not usually able to provide.

Spain is a great consumer of hake in almost any form, which has benefitted South American exporters. The highest priced among the frozen offerings is the so-called austral from southern Argentina, Chile and New Zealand. Next in value comes the sudafricana from Peru and Chile.

One should realize that while Spain's entry into the EEC has brought steady modernization [and with it a changing food distribution system], it remains well behind the countries of northern Europe in terms of technology. On the packaging front, for example, there is little difference - other than size - between frozen fish products and preparations for the catering market and those for home consumption. "This is due to the fact that demand from the catering sector is not very sophisticated, or at least not as sophisticated as in other EEC countries, and seldom dictates concrete specifications for the product," writes Varona.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that breaded fish items have had little success so far. Nonetheless, frozen hake portions, fillets and fingers are available on the market. They are cut, covered with crumbs and merchandised as breaded squid.

The author breaks out Spain's frozen seafood distribution system into three parts:

* Products from the domestic freezer fleet, which go directly into coldstores of the fishing companies without going through auction.

* Fishery products frozen on shore which are mainly purchased at auction.

* Products - mainly fillets - imported frozen. Sixty percent of this tonnage goes to industrial processors, while the other 40% goes to wholesalers.

Other figures that shed light on the Spanish seafood scene include:

* Some 55% of the total supply of frozen fish goes through wholesalers, 30% via processors, and 15% through retailers. The wholesalers sell about 3% direct to institutional buyers, while the remaining 52% is passed on to retailers.

* About 30% of the frozen fish supply goes to industrial processing plants, where it is turned into various products. In 1986 some 260 factories existed, of which 180 were operational.

* Approximately 67% of the frozen fish is handled by retailers - 52% bought through various types of shops such as hypermarkets, supermarkets, specialized outlets, etc.; 8% of the tonnage winds up in the catering sector; 62% goes to household consumers; 30% is routed to processing rooms.

Persons interested in obtaining a complete text (51 pages printed in English) of The Spanish Catering Market for Fishery Products should contact Infofish at the following address: P.O. Box 10899, 50728 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Telex: INFISH MA 31560; Fax: 603-2916804. The price is US$ 35.
COPYRIGHT 1991 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:includes related article
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Previous Article:Importing $11 billion of fish per year, Europe's requirements will only grow.
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