BC processor, Orca, feeling US demand lift

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1904

Bolstered by rising U.S. demand, British Columbia, Canada’s secondary salmon processors — smokers and makers of consumer products — don’t seem too worried that their primary suppliers are producing supermarket-ready products nearby.

“Yes. Demand in the US seems to be higher this year,” Kevin Horgan, general manager at Orca Specialty Foods in Surrey told SalmonBusiness. The town has easy highway access to the nearby US border, and it is the site of Marine Harvest’s new 12,000-tonne processing and distribution site.

With US demand strong, the company has been busy. Horgan said he still hasn’t had time to do a full analysis of year-over-year sales for 2017. But, he knows what’s selling.

“Requests for portions and skinless fillets are increasing, but traditional skin on D-trim fillets are still in high demand,” Horgan said.

More portions
“That being said, I think it’s safe to say that salmon is now a staple in the American diet, which is driving sales and demand for further processed product such as portions,” he said.

Orca’s sales network of large grocery retailers, club warehouses, restaurants and wholesale worldwide is so solid — and US demand so robust — that Horgan only had empathy to offer the likes of Marine Harvest and other large salmon growers integrating more processing and consumer products into their offering.

“The move to increase secondary processing in North America is a natural progression for the farmers,” Horgan said, adding, “Ultimately, the salmon need to be broken down into consumer friendly formats. The best and least expensive way to achieve this is through high volume, centralized facilities that are close to the source.”

Smooth operators
Marine Harvest, meanwhile, is undergoing processor growth, reorganization and teething issues in North America. With a large, new Miami facility in the works to replace an existing facility, its processors in Dallas and Surrey BC might have to pick up the slack to reach beyond the Western US to the Easter Seaboard.

For now, the Marine Harvest Surrey plant is, “Still working with new equipment and crew to continue toward maximising production,” a source told SalmonBusiness.

With operations at Orca running as smoothly as ever, Horgan said he hoped he was being helpful in answering our questions.

“Have a great day,” he added.