Salmon is powering Poland’s huge demand for sushi

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Located on the outskirts of Poznan in Poland is one of Europe’s largest sushi factories.

The distance between factories in Robakowo, a neighbouring suburb of Poznan, is short.

The maize and grain fields aren’t too far away either. In what appears to be a tiny ‘no man’s land’ is where SalmonBusiness finds Sushi Factory. Here they produce sushi from Norwegian salmon, which has shelf life of 11 days. Around 140 employees work shifts to keep the factory, which has been operative since 2015, running around the clock.

A strict ban on photographing inside the factory, for fear of business secrets being revealed.

Shelf life
“A sushi with long shelf life is the key,” Marta Koczur, production manager at Sushi Factory, told Salmon Business.

– But what condition are ready-made sushi dishes in after ten days on shop shelves …?

“People associate sushi with fresh goods that have low shelf life. But we have never received complaints or claims from customers, Sushi Factory’s business development manager, Jan Pulawski, explained to SalmonBusiness. He has been in the salmon trade since the nineties, and was formerly Managing Director at BK-Food.

Jan Pulawski Sushi Factory. PHOTO: Ole Alexander Saue

Most of their salmon is Norwegian. The main competition comes from Marine Harvest-owned MorPol and German Natsu Foods.

In the space of just three years they have gone “from scratch” to annual sales totalling 45 million Polish zloty (EUR 10,6 million).

The Polish enterprise now supplies among others the Polish grocery giant Biedronka – that has more than 2,600 stores located throughout the country. In comparison, there are 618 Rema 1000 stores in Norway.

“That’s our principal contract,” Koczur told SalmonBusiness.

Sushi explosion
During the last two years there has been a virtual eruption in the number of sushi bars in the western world. Particularly the last decade. The Japanese dish is popular as fast food and as a dish served in restaurants.

“Ten years ago you only ate sushi in sushi restaurants. Now you have sushi in literally every shop in Poland,” said Pulawski before adding, “Sushi consumption has escalated beyond all belief. Subsequently, salmon consumption has increased. In Warsaw alone there are around 500 sushi restaurants!”

“At present we supply exclusively to Poland, but we are focusing now on exporting to Germany and Austria. The problem is the logistics and transport, which steal the product’s shelf life. That makes it difficult to justify price and quality,” said Pulawski.

PHOTO: Sushi Factory

In the long term they are looking to venture into the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and other neighbouring countries.

“But these are countries that are more sensitive about price levels,” he said.

Staying put in Poland
According to Sushi Factory, they feature among the largest factories in Europe. The company has local owners, and has no plans to move elsewhere. Poland is the country most favourable for producing sushi, according to Pulawski.

“We won’t be building any factories outside Poland – and not anywhere else in Poland either. We’re currently in the process of planning a new production line, to fill a need in the market,” he said.