Estonian fish processing businesses keen to double exports to Japan
The Estonian fish processing sector hopes to double its exports to Japan next year, industry executives attending a fish fair in Tokyo told BNS.
"We expect sales in Japan to reach at least seven million euros in 2017," said Valdur Noormagi, manager of the Estonian Association of Fisheries. He added that exports to Japan this year are estimated to total 3 to 3.5 million euros in value.
"Even though it's the first day of the fair now, interest in Estonian fish products is absolutely there," noted Noormägi.
The three-day fair is scheduled to last through Friday morning Estonian time.
When asked to name examples of Estonian fish products sold in Japan, the association manager cited sprats in oil, sprats in tomato sauce, salmon products and smoked eel fillets, among others.
"We were in Japan for the first time in 2013," Noormägi recalled. "We started with preserves back then. AS Maseko works with the Mitsui Group; last year they sent 40 sea containers of preserves to Japan."
He noted that former Estonian sumo wrestler Kaido Hoovelson, perhaps known better as Baruto, has a fish trading company of his own, and still enjoys celebrity sttus in Japan.
"Right now we are trying to find a market for OÜ Avektra's various salmon products," said Noormägi. "It's been very popular. There's a very big chain in Japan, 7-11 — their purchase manager was here and we made price offers."
Avektra has sold two or three sea containers of its own products to Japan so far.
"M.V.Wool has concluded a preliminary agreement of two million euros," the Estonian representative said. "The Väätsa fish processing company sent its product samples last month — Baltic herring and frozen shrimp. The interest is there, you just have to do a lot of work.
In July, BNS reported that Estonian fish processing company M.V.Wool is planning to deliver ten sea containers, or 200 tons, of salmon to Japan for approximately 2.3 million euros in the second half of this year.
"We sell cheap fish," Noormägi pointed out. "The price of sprat and Baltic herring is very low — that' the fish of which we have the most. Now if we take salmon, we buy it mostly from Scandinavia, process it in Estonia and increase its value."
Noormägi added that if Estonia didn't ahve export markets, "...We would have been having big problems long ago."