The fish industry is one of Marel's three key protein industries. Marel is a leading global supplier of advanced standalone equipment and integrated systems for all stages of the fish processing value chain. Our systems range from single scales to integrated production lines and turnkey systems, onboard and ashore. Marel Fish contributed EUR 132 million in revenues in 2017, or 13% of total revenues, translating to an EBIT of 4.3% which is below long term targets. Marel Fish has been transformed in recent years and is on the right track as investments in innovation and standardization of the business has delivered good orders received and improved margins.
In 2017, Marel Fish focused on enabling fish processors to generate higher value through better utilization of raw material and maximize throughput, quality and process control. The wild whitefish segment continues to occupy an important place in the Marel Fish portfolio due to its long-term use of technology and modern fishing and processing methods. Marine sourcing of wild fish is a relatively fixed resource with little potential for growth due to the state of fish stocks and quota limitations. Thanks to their investment in high-tech onboard solutions, whitefish processors are now able to meet rising demand for products by improving the utilization and value of their catch.
Aquaculture has been the fastest growing food production segment in the last decade and Marel Fish has a strong foothold in the sector, especially in the salmon part of the industry. We have also worked for many of the world’s largest processors of tilapia, sea bream and sea bass. Our efforts to further our market penetration in this sector in 2017 have given us a strong position to continue this expansion in 2018 and beyond.
Marel Fish demonstrated an almost hands-free process throughout the production chain at our Whitefish Showhow with a new configuration of a FleXicut line.
The concept, with a new pre-trim solution and packing robots further down the line, means that pre-trim is the last place the fish is touched by human hands. The packing robots are yet another cross-industry application that was originally developed for poultry and is now applied to fish.
Data is increasingly valuable in today’s high-tech processing environment. The ability to track and analyze data is key to competitiveness for fish processors. Innova was featured at ShowHows and other events during the year where customers could see machines generate data in real time and learn how Innova uses the data to provide full production control. A comprehensive Innova conference attracted a large group of fish processors in 2017. The aim was to help them stay on top of production control and realize the full potential of our overarching software solution.
In 2017, we undertook our largest ever project in this industry, a greenfield facility for Norwegian fish processing giant Leroy Seafood Group. Another major greenfield project involved a new, ultramodern whitefish plant for Primex, Norway, which will set a new benchmark in the whitefish industry. The project includes completely new robot technology that will improve product distribution and handling.
The Saudi Arabian processing giant NAQUA continued to work with Marel to improve processing. In 2017, the company decided to double its already impressive throughput and install new packing lines and the Innova Paperless Quality Control (QC) system. This was an extensive project with multiple installation phases, most of which were completed during the year.
Marel, Icelandic processor Samherji and Dutch processor Parlevliet & Van der Plas entered into a substantial partnership agreement to modernize the processors’ operations onboard and onshore with FleXicut systems. Samherji and Marel have worked closely together for decades on developing advanced fish processing solutions, and this extensive cooperation contract reflects the two companies’ shared passion for innovation.