Russia’s pollock sector strategy under fire

February 18, 2021 16:06

Critics claim that the main stake of the Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries on pollock processing at sea is wrong leading to excessive export bias while the needs of the domestic consumption are increasingly neglected, reports Megafishnet com.

According to Konkurent, so far nearly the entire range produced onboard has been bound for export either to China and South Korea (pollock HG, roe, pollock W/R) or to EU (fillet blocks). There are also less significant destinations such as Africa and Japan.

This model has been especially beneficial for such big players as the Russian Fishery Company, Okeanrybflot, Norebo, Gydrostroy, etc but detrimental for the internal consumer who has been hit with high prices linked to export price tags resulting in a decline of consumption.

The supertrawlers being built under the quotas-for-the newbuildings at Russian yards’ scheme will produce pollock fillet blocks, surimi and fishmeal also mainly bound for export while the crabbers built within a similar scheme will be shipping live crab to Korea and China. Frozen crab legs will be bound for the USA and Japan.

The same program provides investment quotas to newly-built onshore factories as well but the quotas allocated are not sufficient for economic efficiency.

Meanwhile, the governors of the coastal regions began to realize that it is necessary to develop the territories, partially abandoning direct export of fish products. Thus, Kamchatka Governor Vladimir Solodov noted that the emphasis should be placed not so much on the shipbuilding, but rather on the encouragement of value-added processing, including onshore processing.

One of the incentives for this now is the difficulties with the pollock export. In the medium term, we need to ensure that a significant part of the one million tons pollock catch in the Sea of Okhotsk would be processed at coastal plants. This will significantly increase the depth of processing, as well as protect against the turbulence that can be created by foreign markets.

Business, in turn, believes that it is also possible to develop exports of products from onshore factories. "At the moment, we have orders for the next 3-4 months for finished products. Two years ago, I shared my concerns that such large-scale investments in the manufacture of finished products would not allow to push the Chinese in the markets of Europe and America in the finished products of the final stage of processing. Now this question is no longer valid, because the Chinese have practically left this part of the market for us – " says Alexander Efremov, a representative of the Novy Mir plant. - An increase in the volume of onshore processing will also lead to an increase in the fish cold storage capacity. Before you process the fish, you need to stockpile the inventory. Under the previous model, we accumulated fish in Korea and China”.

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