Joint-venture partners pool their catch to net profits from Chinese market

Seafood companies Atlanfish and Rockabill Shellfish have joined forces to target exports to China with their new brand Atlantic Gold.

The new brand’s range was developed to appeal to consumer preferences in China for whitefish products and shellfish such as prawns, crab, lobster, and scallops.

Total exports of Irish seafood to China were €2.9m in 2011. Data to July 2012 shows exports at €5.3m, up 80% to date.

Traditionally, the main markets for Irish seafood are France, Britain and Germany, with smaller niche markets in Asia. Seafood agency Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) says this surge in exports is a result of the new business relationships developed between Ireland and China in recent years.

BIM’s Donal Buckley said: “Our seafood enjoys an excellent reputation but we need to pool individual companies’ resources... to reduce duplication of costs, boost profitability, improve customer service and time to market. This venture is an excellent example of the way forward for our sector.”

Total trade in pelagic seafood accounts for €2.1m of total exports in 2011 and €4.7m of exports to date in 2012. The demand for Irish shellfish such as crab and crustaceans, is expected to surpass €1m during 2012.

Atlanfish and Rockabill say they can offer a greater volume of high-end sea- food — with 75% of the total catch of Irish prawns, 65% of Irish whitefish and 50% of Irish crab. In addition, razor fish is caught, kept live on-board in tanks and flown live to China.

Rockabill president Bill Price said: “The brand offers a range of premium quality seafood from the pure waters around the coast of Ireland. We can now offer a ‘straight from the sea’ taste and a one-stop Irish seafood shop to the Chinese market.”

Between them, Atlanfish and Rockabill have annual revenues of €30m and employ 170 staff. Rockabill’s shellfish range is processed at plants in Dublin and Cork. Atlanfish has its plant in Carndonagh, Co Donegal.

The Atlantic Gold range will be exhibited at the China Seafood Show in Dalian from Nov 6 to 8.

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