Mowi France is currently on a charm offensive to get the French on board with farmed salmon, by opening up a channel with the country’s influential chefs.
At the beginning of the year, the salmon giant launched an ultra-premium range of cuts destined to French restaurant dinner tables in the fish-loving nation.
“The idea is to quell any doubts and go directly with chefs – and to give them the urge to want to serve farmed salmon,” said Mowi France Marketing & Innovation Manager Gabriel Chabert to SalmonBusiness.
Chabert explained that Mowi France wanted to speak directly to restaurateurs and – in true Gallic form – to “seduce” medium/high-end restaurants and foodservice while opening up a dialogue to break up preconceived ideas and bad press around salmon farming.
French cuisine is highly influential and trickles down to the home. Coupled with an increase in the adoption of modern lifestyles across the entire France population, there is a steady demand for new menus and dishes among the youth population. At this year’s Norwegian UK Seafood summit, the Norwegian Seafood Council revealed that they had been working with famous British chef Michel Roux to capture new consumers.
Reopen those doors
“We created this brand around three strong ideas – quality, confidence, and durability. The idea is to reopen those doors, to explain to chefs how we raise our salmon,” said Chabert.
The salmon comes from a special Mowi Supreme strain and raised in a few handpicked sites in Norway and benefits from its own special feed. The fresh salmon is available in Royal Brut or Bon Boneless Fillet, but also in two new cuts: Magnum which retains only the heart of the fillet with maximum thickness, and the Kube, already prepared 150g cubic square portions. All prepped fresh from Mowi facilities at Boulogne-sur-mer, Northern France.
The fish is distributed by Brittany-based fresh food Le Saint (France) – which moved into the Marine Harvest Lorient (Mowi) site last year. Distributor Margain Maree is also helping to push the salmon. The fish also has its own Instagram account.
The salmon used for Mowi Supreme comes from a particular strain, raised in a few handpicked sites and benefits from a particular food. The products are available in Royal Brut or Bon Boneless Fillet, but also in two new cuts: the Magnum which retains only the heart of the fillet with maximum thickness, and the Kube, a square portion 150g already prepared. A smoked version of the range is also available.
“The products that we are really pushing here is the Magnum. With the cubes, the interest here is that one chef can order three, four, five months in advance at what price he can get his order – the market moves quite a lot, so we’ll keep the price the same for six months,” said Chabert.
“Its a way of helping, we have been listening to chefs,” he explained, stressing that it was important to have visibility as chefs often have to prepare menus two months in advance. “Prices can rise and fall, it’s very complicated for them, that was our objective”.
With its smoked salmon range, Chabert said that Mowi kept its fish in the sea much longer to get a larger salmon. “These are big specimens which can go to 8 – 9 kilo,” he said. These fish are then traditionally rope hung smoked at its facilities at Oostende, Mowi Belgium.
It’s early days – but Mowi France is working with a range of top chefs – including one big-name haute cuisine ambassador – of which Chabert said he can’t mention now.
Why is it so important to connect with the restaurant sector?
“Our global aim is for France to get the desire to love to eat farmed salmon – we think, in reality, that aquaculture is an indispensable solution to the future,” he said.
On the menu
Chabert said that he once talked to a Michelin star chef who told him he struggled to sell farmed salmon to his customers but anticipated a sea-change.
“He cooks wild bass but he said he is going to try and do farmed fish. He told me that those fish were of variable quality and there’s not much of it and that if we continue to drain the sea, tomorrow there won’t just be any. He said, “aquaculture is stable and your salmon interests me and because of the quality, I want to put it on the menu”.