Processing and distribution

The wholesale fish merchant profession, traditionally the first link in the fresh seafood commercialisation chain, involves retailing seafood either in its natural state or after initial processing (filleting) to fishmonger stockists and high volume retailers. For the past few years, the wholesale fish trade has been undergoing a concentration phase. Large companies have been buying smaller companies as part of an external growth strategy, thereby creating large wholesale fish trading groups.

The fishery resource industry specialises in seafood and encompasses a wide variety of professions. These include soup and pâté producers, crustacean cookers, surimi and breaded fish producers, fish smokers and more. Those trades involve applying a second processing method to the product, in addition to filleting. Processed or prepared seafood caters well to what consumers’ current demands, which are increasingly focused on practical products (see the chapter on consumption). Companies can draw on competitiveness clusters such as Valorial and Aquimer to co-develop innovations.

Specialist stockists, meaning traditional fishmongers, saw their numbers drop significantly between 1995 and 2010. However, this haemorrhage seems to have been stemmed as their numbers have stabilised since 2012. Despite this, the percentage represented by traditional fishmongers (fixed location and mobile) remains low and slowly dropping, with only 17% of commercialised volumes in 2016 (compared to 21% in 2010). High volume retail represents 75% of seafood volumes sold in 2016 (stable compared to 2010).

Current topics in the news are:

  • Concentration of wholesale fish merchant companies
  • Research into innovations to better meet the consumers’ demands
  • Increase in market share of hard discount and online sales (drive-through)
  • Will refresh be a solution for spreading out prices and reducing logistics pressure?