By Rob Fletcher
How much LRSS is produced each year? Production is about 8,000 tonnes a year and we estimate that between 6,000 and 6,500 tonnes of this comes to France. Salmon imports into France from all origins and types totalled 157,000 tonnes in 2014, so LRSS accounts for a market share of about 4%.
Which companies produce LRSS? Marine Harvest (Scotland), the Scottish Salmon Company, Scottish Sea Farms, Cooke Aquaculture Scotland and Loch Duart. Do LR fish have to be grown to a more exacting standard? The Label Rouge is an official quality mark granted by the French Ministry of Agriculture to those products demonstrating superior quality, particularly in relation to taste. To achieve this level of quality, the production standards are defined in an officially approved manual, including elements such as feed, stocking density, farming time in fresh and sea waters, and fat content in the flesh.
Label Rouge is the only quality mark implying an obligation of results in terms of superior quality and taste.
Do you think there is the potential to increase LRSS output and, if so, who would buy it? If we look back 10 years ago, production was on average 6,000 tonnes per year and, although we are talking about a niche market, an extra 2,000 tonnes represents an increase of 30%. Traditionally, LRSS is sold in the French retail sector (importers, wholesalers, fishmongers and downstream, independent restaurants) and to smokers. We believe there are still growing potentials in these traditional sectors but at the same time we see increasing interest from the multiple sector and from international markets both European and overseas. Recently, the number of approved salmon processors in France has more than doubled. We therefore anticipate further developments both in the retail and in the commercial and institutional catering sectors.
Is the Label Rouge market confined to France or are consumers in other countries willing to pay extra for Label Rouge products? We have potential niche markets in every country where discerning consumers look for high quality products and are ready to pay extra for that. Germany is an important market and our salmon can also be found in all parts of Switzerland.
Looking further afield there is also an interest in LRSS in the Far East, especially Japan. Although only 10-12% of the Japanese salmon market is for fresh fish this represents approximately 25,000 tonnes per year on average, sold in the high end of the market – more than 3 times our total LRSS production. Looking now at China, Scotland exported about 13,500 tonnes in 2014, an increase of 40% against 2013. Considering the total population, it represents less than 15 grams per person… These 2 examples show that we can reasonably anticipate significant developments for Scottish superior and LR in those new markets.
Do you think the positive publicity generated by Label Rouge helps the image of the whole Scottish salmon industry? In the French market, the Scottish origin is in high demand and I believe that Label Rouge helps promote Scottish origin – not only in France but also in other markets. One of the main challenges is to be able to progressively increase Scottish production as a whole in order to meet the growing demand in our current and new markets.
Was this year’s Expo a useful event for promoting Label Rouge salmon and did you gain any new business? We are confident that the number of contacts we have had this year with French, European and overseas companies will generate new business for our members.
Published: 01/07/2015 at 3:31 pm