Fishing fleet lands €493m in exports as Bord Bia casts net at expo
IRELAND'S fishing fleet is already pulling in almost half a billion euro in exports, and industry chiefs are out to catch new markets at the world's largest seafood trade fair.
A record 21 Irish seafood companies are taking part in Seafood Expo Global in Brussels this week.
Shellfish, whitefish, pelagic and finfish – alive, chilled, canned, frozen and smoked – will be exhibited to more than 25,000 buyers and sellers from over 145 countries.
Figures show Irish seafood was exported to more than 80 markets worldwide last year.
The haul was valued at €493m, a massive 32pc jump since 2010 when €373m was exported.
Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter said it was encouraging to see such a strong Irish presence at the Seafood Expo Global.
"International trade events remain a critical business development platform for Irish exporters," he said.
"The Expo provides an opportunity for Irish companies to identify new customers, meet existing clients, launch new products, learn more about emerging trends and broaden their export reach into new markets.
"Ireland's seafood exports to international markets outside the EU were valued at €156m last year, an increase of 5pc on the 2012 figures."
An estimated 65pc of Irish seafood exports are sold in EU markets, with France being the main market followed by UK and Spain.
However, targeting countries outside Europe remains a vital importance – especially for the Irish fleet which fishes mainly mackerel, herring, blue whiting and boarfish and these types of fish, according to Bord Bia are favoured in Nigeria, Cameroon, Russia and China.
Exports to Asian markets reached €38m in 2013, a hike of 41pc on the previous year.
In the last year alone Irish seafood exports have jumped by 122pc to Hong Kong, 104pc to Russia and 59pc to China.
Bord Bia aims to export €650m worth of seafood by 2020.
And three of the Irish exhibitors in Brussels are launching new products.
Reputed as Ireland's first organic mussel producer, Kenmare-based Kush Organic Seafarms reveals its new organic mussel soup made with organic rope mussels from Kenmare Bay.
Cork-based Good Fish Processing launches a new Mr Good's Fabulous Fish, a range of three simple multi-cook pouch products – Amazin' Cajun Spiced Salmon Supreme, Glorious Garlic & Herb Cod Fillets, and Heavenly Zesty Lemon Hake Fillets.
And Rockabill Seafood, which specialise in live, fresh and frozen seafood products, announced details of its 'Irish Frozen at Sea Prawn 2kg pack', a growing category in retail and food service. The shell fish are caught wild by Rockabill's fishing fleet and frozen within two hours of catch.
Bord Bia's said its pavilion at the expo is a key element of its annual seafood programme, which is focused on developing new market opportunities for the Irish seafood sector.
"The programme includes an Irish presence at a number of key seafood trade shows throughout the year including Conxemar in Spain, Biofach in Germany and the Chinese Fisheries Show in Qingdao," it added.