Company aiming to sell one-third of its products to EU consumers
Martin Sullivan and his brother, Blaine, have a particular goal in mind for Ocean Choice International (OCI).
It’s a one-third rule, if you use a basic math perspective.
Their aim is to see one-third of their seafood products sold in North American markets, one third in Asia and one third in Europe.
Currently, about 25 per cent of their sales are in the EU market, Martin Sullivan told SaltWire in an interview.
Shrimp, scallops, and groundfish are their main exports to that region.
But they are confident they can increase their retail and wholesale presence.
And they’ve hired someone to help them do it.
The company announced last week Rens Elderkamp will be joining them on Oct. 1 as the managing director of its European operations.
According to OCI, Elderkamp has more than a decade of seafood sales and marketing experience. His LinkedIn profile shows he was a manager with Anova Seafoods for 11 years and, more recently, a manager with the Silgro Food Group of the Netherlands.
Elderkamp is not the first ‘on the ground’ representative for OCI in Europe, however.
Sullivan said the company already has five people employed there, with a sales office in the United Kingdom and satellite offices in the Netherlands and Italy.
“We’ve had people on the ground there since we took over the assets of FPI (Fishery Products International) in 2007,” he said.
He added the company hopes to increase sales of yellowtail flounder and redfish to Europe.
Earlier this summer OCI welcomed its newest vessel, MV Calvert, to its fleet of offshore ships.
The vessel, which has processing facilities onboard, will fish mainly for yellowtail flounder.
Sullivan added the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA), which came into effect in 2017, has also created more opportunities for Canadian seafood companies like OCI.
Before CETA, he noted, there was a 15 percent import duty on yellowtail flounder from Canada, making it extremely difficult to compete with Chinese importers who were actually putting Alaskan-caught groundfish into the EU.
“CETA created opportunities for us. With the reduction in tariffs our species are now competitive with other countries that did not have to pay tariffs. So, it levels the playing field for Canadian producers,” he said.
OCI doesn’t have processing facilities in the EU, but Sullivan said they have occasionally contracted local fish processors to prepare retail packs for local markets.
Sullivan said Elderkamp will be in charge of OCI’s entire operation in Europe.
“Hopefully, with his contacts, he will help us grow our sales.
“It’s a big market with a lot of countries and a lot of territory to cover so we just wanted to invest in having more people there.”
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