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Irish Seafood Exports to China Increase 80 Per Cent, New Brand Launched

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IRELAND - Two successful Irish seafood companies, Atlanfish Limited and Rockabill Shellfish Limited jointly launched a new international brand specifically aimed at the Chinese market at Chapter One restaurant in Dublin.

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Entitled Atlantic-Gold, the new brand, encompassing a range of shellfish (prawns, crab, lobster, razor clams, scallops) and whitefish products, was developed to service the growing demand for quality seafood in the Chinese market. Initially the range will be available in the food service sector and this will then be extended to retail.

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.

However, in order to build on this initial success and further grow our market share, the Irish seafood sector needs to build scale and improve route to market structures and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Seafood Development Agency, who assisted the companies with this project, have been working with industry to achieve this. Donal Buckley, BIMs Business Development and Innovation Manager explains; Building scale in the Irish Seafood Sector is a priority for BIM. Our seafood enjoys an excellent reputation but we need to pool individual companies resources so as to reduce duplication costs, boost profitability, improve customer service and time to market. The Joint venture between Atlanfish and Rockabill is an excellent example of the way forward for our sector

The selling points for the Atlantic-Gold brand are sure to attract attention amongst buyers in China. Both Atlanfish and Rockabill run successful seafood businesses, employing 170 people between them, with collective revenues of 30 million, processing facilities and their own fishing vessels. Together, the companies can offer a greater volume of high end seafood. With 75 per cent of the total catch of Irish prawns, 65 per cent of Irish whitefish and 50 per cent of Irish crab, the companies can guarantee volume, quality, consistency, full traceability and reliability in the marketplace. In addition to these products, razor fish is caught, kept live on-board in tanks and then flown live to China.

Mr Bill Price, President of Rockabill Shellfish commented at the launch: "We are delighted, along with our colleagues in Atlanfish for the encouragement and support from the agencies for this development, especially to BIM. We thank all of our guests who have taken the time out from their busy schedules to attend the launch of Atlantic-Gold, especially the Chinese Ambassador, Mr Luo Linquan and his colleagues from the Chinese Embassy. The brand that we have developed offers a range of premium quality seafood from the pure waters around the coast of Ireland. We now offer straight from the sea taste and a One Stop Irish Seafood Shop to the Chinese market."

The Atlantic-Gold product range will be exhibited at the China Seafood Show in Dalian from 6-8 November.

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