Russia lagging behind with convenient and ready-to-eat seafood products

November 3, 2021 16:09

Lack of government support of the fish processing development in the B2C sector discourage Russian producers from introducing new product forms – convenient and ready-to-eat products enjoying good demand from the consumer, reports

According to Fishnews, the government authorities and the business community understand the meaning of "processing" and "value-added processing" in a different way. For the regulator represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Agency for Fishery, production of fillets and minced meat onboard the vessels and at onshore factories built under the investment quota program means deep processing. However, the fillets will not get to the fish counters as they are, they must be at least shatter packed for the consumer convenience. Fishermen are almost never engaged in this stage of processing, as they normally focus on processing for the B2B segment.

Experts say that fishermen normally do not seek to make products for retail and nor they have incentives to build fish processing capacities. That is quite understandable, because packaging of fish products for the B2C segment is a separate and rather complex operational business.

Speaking at the recent meeting in the Federation Council chairman of the Fish Union Alexander Panin told the audience that “At the same time, packing is only the initial stage. So that fish could compete with meat, chicken and other sources of protein, we should offer the market new products that are in demand by consumers. Today, the consumer does not want to waste time cutting fish, and in a few years no one will bother even with fillets. People want semi-finished, or even better, ready-to-eat products, deliciously cooked, with sauces, with additives and so on. And these are completely different high-tech plants, which are not at all in Russia now," the head of the Fish Union underlined.

He noted that the social side often remains out of focus — these are issues of nutrition, longevity, and a healthy lifestyle.

According to Alexander Panin, the data on the average per capita consumption of fish at the level of 20 kg per year, which various departments like to refer to, are very cunning, since we are talking about the amount of raw materials. "And the norms of the Ministry of Health are fish headed and gutted, and if you recalculate the coefficients in this form, then the real consumption will be 13 kg. Moreover, over the past seven years it has fallen by 27%. This is a terrible indicator. At this rate, if we do not turn towards deep fish processing, we will go to zero and simply lose fish as a product in the food basket of Russians," warns the head of the industry association.

Judging by the results of the meeting in the Federation Council, the law makers are not ready to talk about a separate law for fish processing yet and suggest limiting to a package of regulatory and support measures to begin with. The Fish Union does not object to this approach, but considers it important to identify a federal body that will be responsible for the implementation of these measures and will be able to conduct a dialogue with fish processors.

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