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Four Irish Seafood Companies Announce Joint Venture in China

12 November 2012

IRELAND and CHINA - Four of Ireland’s most successful seafood companies, McBride Fishing, Carr Shellfish, Sofrimar and Shellfish de La Mer, have come together to set up Jade Ireland Seafood Limited, a joint venture company with an office based in Shanghai.

Following assistance from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Seafood Development Agency and Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, the companies agreed a strategic business plan for the joint venture and as part of this plan a new brand, Ocean Jade, has been developed. The new brand was launched 7 November at the China Fisheries and Seafood Expo, one of China’s largest seafood trade shows, taking place in Dalian this week. A total of twelve Irish seafood companies are exhibiting on the ‘Ireland’ stand, managed and coordinated by Bord Bia. The event marks Ireland’s largest ever national pavilion at a seafood trade fair in Asia.

The companies involved in Jade Ireland Seafood Limited are located around the Irish coast in areas renowned for quality seafood including Donegal, Wexford and Cork. Individually, these companies are already very successful with collective revenues of €45 million with established clients in France, UK, Spain, Italy and Korea. Collectively, through Jade Ireland Seafood Limited, they can now provide customers in China with a diverse range of live and value added seafood products including crab, lobster, mussels, prawns, scallops and white fish.

Donal Buckley, BIM’s Business Development and Innovation Manager outlined how this project to build scale in the seafood sector is a key priority for BIM; ‘Irish seafood enjoys an excellent reputation internationally and with exports to China up 80 per cent so far this year compared to last year, we have a real opportunity to establish a presence in this growing and profitable market. However, in order to do so, we need to build scale and we are pleased to have assisted four international joint ventures this year including Jade Ireland to ensure we can access and serve key markets effectively’

In order to service its Chinese customers, Jade Ireland has established a presence in Bord Bia’s Irish Food Hub based in Shanghai. Tara McCarthy, Director of Food and Beverages, Bord Bia commented: “This collaboration between McBride Fishing, Carr Shellfish, Shellfish de la Mer and Sofrimar is an excellent example of co-opetition as a business strategy. Bord Bia actively supports and promotes the principle of co-opetition, where food companies work together to create synergies resulting in cost savings, improved returns and increased market distribution.”

Jade Ireland owns a fleet of fishing vessels and four world class processing facilities. This integration of resources across the four companies means that seafood is caught and processed quickly ensuring that a high quality traceable seafood product is supplied onto the market all year round. This expertise has been recognised with numerous seafood awards.

Hugh McBride, Director of Jade Ireland commenting on behalf of the group added; ‘We are delighted that this venture has come to fruition. The Irish seafood sector is small in comparison to our competitors and we quickly realised that in order to compete effectively and to supply such a large and growing market in China, we would need to use our collective resources to do so. Our strategic vision is to establish Irish seafood and the Ocean Jade brand as the leading premium quality seafood on the Chinese Market. On behalf of the group, I would like to thank BIM and Bord Bia for all their assistance to get this project up and running’

Attracting over 15,000 visitors, the China Fisheries and Seafood Expo is a key seafood trade show in what is an increasingly important market for Ireland. Traditionally, the Irish Seafood Sector has concentrated on key markets in France, the UK and Germany with a smaller niche markets in Asia. However, with an ever increasing population and middle class dynamic, China offers the Irish Seafood Sector the potential for real growth. Total exports of Irish seafood to China in 2011 were €2.9 million. Latest data up to July 2012, details exports at €5.3 million. This equates to an 80 per cent increase on 2011 before year end.

This dramatic increase demonstrates the new business relationships Ireland has developed with key Chinese buyers in recent years. Trade in pelagic seafood accounts for €2.1 million of total exports in 2011 and €4.7 million of exports for year to date in 2012. The demand for premium Irish Shellfish, mainly crab and crustaceans, is also growing solidly and expected to be valued at over €1 million during 2012.

TheFishSite News Desk

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