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Brazil tilapia giant Netuno to grow shrimp sales

Lower shrimp prices are presenting sales opportunities for processors

Brazilian seafood processor Netuno is aiming to step up shrimp sales against a background of lower prices in Brazil.

Netuno, based in Recife in the northeast state of Pernambuco, has set a sales target of between 40-60 metric tons a month by the end of this year.

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Netuno currently sells 10 metric tons a month of shrimp. The company previously produced shrimp but now sources from farms in the northeast.

"We have always sold shrimp but this year we are looking to sell more and raise volumes," Netuno CEO Christian Becker told IntraFish.

Shrimp producers in Brazil have been slashing prices to thwart the threat of exports from Ecuador.

The Brazilian shrimp industry succeeded in blocking frozen imports after a devastating disease outbreak in 1999, continually citing the need to protect the domestic industry from the threat of disease.

But frozen de-shelled imports trickled into Brazil in recent months after the Brazilian Association of Bars Restaurants (Abrasel) managed to lift an injunction against an earlier ruling that stated the product should be subject to New Import Risk analysis, after Brazil's shrimp producers reversed the earlier court ruling.

Netuno said it also expects to see around a 10 percent increase in tilapia production this year amid increasing domestic demand for the fish.

"Our own production is going to be around 9,000 metric tons this year," Becker said.

Unlike some other producers in Brazil, Netuno produces and processes tilapia all of its own tilapia and is not reliant on third parties for suppliers.

"Distribution in Brazil is very good, so we have no problems in selling it," Becker said.

Netuno switched almost its entire focus to tilapia production under a strategy overhaul after Japan's Nissui announced it was relinquishing its 50 percent stake in the company in 2013.

Executives also ditched the lobster business, despite being Brazil's leading exporter, and ceased the company's seafood trading activities to mainly focus on the domestic tilapia fillet market.

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Tilapia are farmed at Petrolândia and Jatoba sites on the São Francisco river in Pernambuco state and processed 50 minutes drive away across the Bahia state line at Paulo Afonso.

An investment in the expansion of warehouse facilities helped Netuno overcome feed shortages suffered by other producers during May's national truck drivers strike.

The company has developed strong links with the Walmart, Carrefour and Pão de Açucar supermarket chains meaning much of its business comes from the A/B income groups. Fillet products are also sold through regional retailers throughout Brazil.

Netuno's private label clients include Walmart, Pão de Açucar and Swift, the JBS-owned chain of frozen meat stores.

Only 5 percent of Netuno's income comes from foodservice.

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