Labeyrie veteran Govare named board chairman of Pure Salmon France

Xavier Govare, the former CEO of Labeyrie Fine Foods, has been named chairman of the board of the new Pure Salmon land-based farming facility in France, his LinkedIn profile states.

According to the profile, Govare took up the chairman’s role at Pure Salmon earlier this month. He left Labeyrie, Europe’s second-largest salmon processor after Norway’s Mowi, in 2016 after 26 years with the company, and has since served on several company boards, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“Xavier brings with him over 30 years of experience in the food industry, including 15 years as chairman and CEO of Labeyrie Fine Foods Group,” Martin Fothergill, a director of Pure Salmon and the co-founder and partner of 8F Investment Partners, the project’s backer, told Undercurrent News in an email.

“He will work closely with the Pure Salmon team to help on strategic matters ranging from distribution, branding and marketing, to financing and business development,” Fothergill said. “We are honoured to have him join the team and bring his wealth of experience in the salmon market to our exciting new 10,000 [metric tons per year] land-based facility in Boulogne-sur- Mer in France.”

Pure Salmon’s big plans

Pure Salmon will represent an investment of €175 million ($197m), and will be the largest land-based farm in the EU, generating some 10,000t of salmon per year and creating 160 permanent jobs, said Pure Salmon.

The construction of the new facility is expected to begin during the fourth quarter of 2020 and should deliver its first harvest of market-size salmon in 2023. It will be fully integrated from hatchery and grow-out to processing and smoking. The fish will be sold primarily to the French market in a variety of forms including smoked salmon and fillets.

“Launching the Pure Salmon brand into the French and neighbouring European markets will be critical to the success of the business, which will be all the more successful under Xavier’s guidance,” Fothergill said.

‘Extremely well-positioned’

told Undercurrent in a January interview that the investment firm believes the project is “extremely well-positioned” and that being a homegrown product will contribute to its ability to capture market share.

The fish produced by Pure Salmon’s French recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) will compete directly with imports from Norway, Scotland and Ireland, which make up two-thirds of the available salmon on the French market, according to the French Association of Food Processing Industries.

However, the firm has confidence that consumers in the country will increasingly appreciate the benefits of land-based products in terms of environmental sustainability and local production, which should help boost sales and consumption of French products.

“We believe that the combination of both the sustainability angle and the production being 100% French and local will contribute to make a dent in the market in terms of freshness and access,” Fothergill said.
“We certainly think those are two really big advantages. However, we are also aware that the French market is a large, growing market and that we will only be producing 10,000 metric tons per year which, in proportion to the market, is not an enormous amount of fish.”

The French annual net import volume of salmon is around 183,000t, of which 119,000t are fresh and 64,000t smoked, according to the latest data from the International Trade Centre and the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products.

Value-added products

Although Pure Salmon France will be selling fillets and other value-added products including smoked salmon, the firm expects to be selling larger quantities of the latter in France in comparison with its projects in other countries.

“Of course we will be selling a full range of products, but we also have in mind that a very large proportion of the French salmon market is focused on smoked salmon,” Martin told Undercurrent.
Pure Salmon France will be the firm’s first fully-integrated farming, processing and distributing business, Fothergill explained to Undercurrent. The fish will be farmed, slaughtered, smoked, distributed and sold by the company’s on-the-ground staff in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France.

“Our current project in Poland is production only. However, all of the new projects we are working on, such as those in Japan or the US, are all going to be vertically integrated, production and processing,” he declared.

He added that each will use RAS systems produced by AquaMaof Aquaculture Technologies, and that the Israeli firm will hold a 5% equity stake in each project.

Pure Salmon has a $1.6 billion plan to produce 260,000 metric tons of salmon in RAS farms globally. In addition to its projects in Poland and Japan, Undercurrent previously reported on Pure Salmon’s plan to build two new 20,000t RAS facilities in Africa and the US.

The facilities in Poland, Japan, the US, and France aim to contribute 40,000t of production to its 260,000t global target. “We haven’t announced all of our projects yet, but a very big proportion of them,” he said in Janurary.

Although the exact location is still undecided, 8F is also raising capital for the China portion of its plan and has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Brunei for a new salmon RAS facility to be based in the Asian country.