Why 8F chose France for Pure Salmon’s latest RAS facility
Published by undercurrentnews by María Feijóo · 31 Aug, 2022

8F Investment Partners believes its new Pure Salmon land-based farming facility in France to be “extremely well-positioned” and that being a homegrown product will contribute to its ability to capture market share, 8F co-founder and partner Martin Fothergill told Undercurrent News.

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 (Adepale).

However, the firm has confidence that consumers in the country will increasingly appreciate the bene ts 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.

Over the past decade, French salmon sales have, at times, struggled, thanks in large part to public campaigns against the Norwegian salmon which makes up such a large part of the market.

Shrewd marketing may well be able to capitalize on having a homegrown product.

Focus on smoked salmon

Although Pure Salmon France will be selling llets and other value-added products including smoked salmon, the rm 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.

According to Adepale, France is the second-largest smoked salmon market — right behind Germany and followed by the UK — and the second-largest smoked salmon producer (24,000t), behind Poland (57,000t) and followed by the UK (23,000t), Lithuania (17,500t), Germany (15,700t) and Spain and Denmark (13,000t each).

Consumption of smoked salmon continues to rise in France, with nine out of 10 people nowadays eating it. The association’s latest data shows that, in 2018, 30,935t of smoked salmon were sold, two-thirds of which came from local smokehouses.

“In 2018, household smoked salmon purchases for home consumption have in fact [increased]. Purchases rose by 3.5% compared to 2017, when they fell 1.6% in volume year-on-year,” the association stated.

Pure Salmon will be evenly selling its products through retail channels and “horeca” — hotels, restaurants and catering — and will aim to develop its brand through positioning the product as free from antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and microplastics.

“This will appeal to both consumers and chefs in addition to a combination of attractive, recyclable packaging and a strong marketing support package including tastings in supermarkets. We will also run an intensive sampling program for chefs allowing them to cook and taste our salmon first hand,” he said. “However, a large proportion of our products will certainly be positioned on the premium retail market.”

Pure Salmon France future plans

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.

After exploring various options in three different regions, the firm finally decided on this area in northern France, very close to the Eurotunnel and well connected with the rest of France.

“We were very welcome and interested in locating there,” Fothergill said. “France is one of the largest consumers of salmon after the US and it is also extremely well-positioned to capture a very large consumer base in Europe. The local government understands the seafood business very well and the fact that Boulogne-Sur-Mer is a major seafood city in the country made it the perfect location for our new facility.” The firm will be hiring people locally, in both Boulogne and France. “There are 160 jobs so 160 people will be recruited for the facility, from the management team to the CEO, through technical, production and processing teams. We want to have our own in- house expertise on the ground.”
In addition to 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.

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.

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