Former Sano, Marine Harvest exec brings RAS-farmed ‘Dutch yellowtail’ to US

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Candor Seafood, a firm founded by former Sano Seafoods, Marine Harvest and Trident Seafoods executive Marcy Bemiller, is bringing yellowtail kingfish farmed on land in the Netherlands to the US market.

Bemiller’s Candor venture, established at the end of 2016, will be bringing the first fish – which the company is marketing as “Dutch yellowtail” — from the Kingfish Zeeland recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) farm in the Netherlands next month.  

Fresh fish will hit the market in March “with some strategic partners”, she told Undercurrent News.

She declined to comment specifically on who the strategic partners are, however.

During the recent Global Seafood Market Conference in Miami, Florida, Candor held a “Dutch yellowtail” dinner at a restaurant in the city, at which executives from the likes of Mark Foods, Rastelli Foods Group, H&N Group, Blue Circle Foods, Seattle Fish Company, Inland Seafood, True World Foods, Bloomin’ Brands, Slade Gorton Co, Darden Restaurants, Sea Port Products, Fortune Fish, Earthfare, Mazzetta and Saltwater Imports in attendance, according to a Facebook post.

Candor — which is also handling US sales for Barramundi Asia and national accounts for Chilean salmon from Seafarers’ Saltwater Imports’ operation — will then start bringing in frozen yellowtail in April.

“We are in talks with some of my dream customers for this product. We have to sell companies that know seafood, who aren’t just commodity and price driven, who share the same vision to provide the best, most sustainable — good for the consumer and good for our environment — protein,” she said.

Candor and Kingfish Zeeland, which is currently only producing smaller sizes of the yellowtail, is “working on changing the perception of the fish so that we can pick up more than just the sushi market”, said Bemiller. “While this isn’t an ’emerging species’ it is absolutely an ‘underutilized species’.”

The term “underutilized” applies to kingfish as “90% of its volume is served raw”, she said. “But, it is an amazing fish if cooked correctly. This is why we focus on the chef community.”

No other producers are considering marketing the smaller, whole-gutted fish, she said.

Kingfish Zeeland’s corporate chef in the Netherlands has done preparations using smaller fish in a salt baked recipe, as well as roasting them and just lightly searing the larger fillets and portions, she said.

Bemiller feels these preparations of kingfish can work in the US market and create a new opening for smaller fish outside sushi.

The whole-gutted on 1-2 pound fish is “a unique size and concept for this species”, she said.

Also, Candor will bring in headed-and-gutted kingfish, as well as fillets, and collar-on and off fish, as well as just the collar.

At the end of last year, Ohad Maiman, CEO of Kingfish Zeeland, told Undercurrent the company had started supplying 700-gram (1.5lbs) fish from its smaller site.

“We started with the 700g-1kg in October, but our next size category of 1kg-2kg has been available and selling since early January, and we are now introducing the 2kg+ size,” he told Undercurrent on Feb. 21. 

The company has began commissioning its main site in late December, with 50% of the facility already fully stocked

The aim is for this site to ramp up capacity to around 600 metric tons per year by May/June 2018, when the company will “internally evaluate” its expansion towards the 4,000t mark, available at its current site, he said, at the time.

Sustainability credentials

US chef Barton Seaver — who just got back from visiting the Dutch yellowtail farms in Zeeland — is endorsing the sustainability credentials of the fish, said Bemiller.

The RAS operation is a good fit for a man with Seaver’s sustainability credentials.

In the interview late last year, Maiman said the company has made production choices that mean it can market at a high level of sustainability.

“Given the unique choices on inputs available in land based systems we have decided to opt for the highest bar available of sustainable and quality production. Meaning, we operate our facility on 100% renewable energy, use organic feed (certified by the French FR-BIO10 standard, with fishmeal primarily sourced from trimmings), and grow our fish without antibiotics or vaccines.”

As a result the firm has received a “Green Choice” recommendation from the Good Fish Foundation, known as Dutch VISwijser, and it also awaiting audits for Best Aquaculture Practices and Aquaculture Stewardship Council certifications, in March 2018.

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