13 billion RUB project to help update cool chain for Russia's fishery industry

April 2, 2009 16:31

Russia's Federal Fisheries Agency is working on establishing a large company with control stock belonging to the state, the business to be engaged in construction of coldstores of the total capacity of 175,000 tonnes to be built over four years and at the total cost of 13 billion RUB (about 384 million USD), reports www.fishnet-russia.com (www.fishnet.ru) with reference to Gudok.

According to the nation's fishery industry head Andrey Krainy, introduction of mandatory customs clearance of EEZ's catch at Russian ports as of 1 January 2009 resulting into an increase of seafood landings has revealed that the country has a lack of coldstorage capacities which are twice short of the current need. Besides, the existing Russian coldstores have grown obsolete. In particular, now none of the coldstores can offer the storage temperature of minus 50 degrees C.

In this connection the Federal Fisheries Agency has made a decision to modernize the existing capacities and build new storage facilities on the way of seafood transportation from Pacific Russia, south of Russia and the nation's northwest to the largest consumption centers.

The National Fish Resources Company will establish OAO Russkii Holod (Russian Cold plc) with 55% state capital and smaller stocks to be distributed among five large private businesses, said Krainy. The coldstores of the total capacity of 175,000 tonnes will be built by the new company and the Agency thinks that other facilities of the total capacity of 220,000 tonnes will be constructed by private companies with government's support.

Construction by the state is designed for the period of four years and will cost 13 billion RUB.

The first transfer of 2 billion RUB from Rosselkhozbank has been already agreed, said Krainy.

However, the market participants think that the seafood transportation problem does not actually root from the lack of coldstores or appropriate railway cars. For instance, general director of Revperevozki Agency Mr. Ildus Khalikov says that the problem with seafood quality and its storage life cannot be solved by new coldstores. He says that the rules for seafood transportation by railway are too liberal because in winter they allow seafood transportation in thermos cars where it is impossible to maintain the constant temperature. There are also reefer sections unable to maintain the cool chain on the whole way to destination point. Until they are not changed to reefer containers (accounting for 10% of the reefer car fleet), which can maintain the temperature regime at -35 degrees C, the maximum storage life of fish will not exceed 4 months, said Khalikov. For comparison, the countries capable of maintaining the cool chain to the counter provide the storage life of seafood at 2 years.

According to head of the International association of the seafood market operators Alexey Totunov, there is no lack in new coldstores already now, as the developer companies have been actively investing into such projects, but the coldstores remained empty.

Even in the regions, where the decrease is less noticeable, 50-80% of coldstore capacities are not used, while the coldstorage price has been halved, says Totunov. He explains that by the fact that the fishermen prefer to export their products.

Andrey Krainy thinks that this situation will soon change as in January-March 2009 the fishermen had to sell seafood for export in order to pay off their debts for appreciated fuel and oil costs and now the industry is expecting a rise of shipments to the domestic market.

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