Demand for fish is growing, according to François Allard at Lorient fish processor Allard Marée, who said that a move to larger premises is overdue.
‘The port is working on this,’ he said. ‘But not fast enough.’
Allard Marée is one of around a dozen companies in Lorient buying fish and processing it for mainly supermarket shelves, with Allard supplying French chains Auchun and Carrefour. Around 3000 tonnes a year of fish pass by Allard Marée’s team of filleters, along with between 300 and 400 tonnes of packed products ready for the chiller cabinets.
Buying is done online, and the line of computer screens in Allard Marée’s office represents half a dozen transactions going on at once as the company’s buying team bids for fish. Buying locally is preferred as this is a rapid operation. By ten each morning, much of the day’s work is done as the last fish are dispatched, so fish needs to be bought, delivered, filleted and shipped out in a continuous rapid process – and deliveries need to arrive early, so the further the fish has to be trucked, the closer to the deadline it arrives.
‘80 to 90% of what we by comes from auctions in Brittany, plus some brought in from Scotland. But it’s best to buy fish here in Lorient. Once we’ve bought the fish, it’s here twenty minutes later so it can be sold and dispatched more quickly,’ the company’s Thierry Tremare admitting that the logistics can be tight, with strict deadlines to be met to get fish to customers.
‘We have twelve nationalities here,’ François Allard said, adding that local people are less easy to recruit and they welcome people from all over the world.
‘They’re from Morocco, Mali, Vietnam, Poland, Romania,’ he counted up, looking over the heads bent over the filleting room tables.
‘We welcome people in difficulties and we’re happy to train them to build up the skill level they need. We’re also developing the systems here so that we can phase out as much as we can of the heavy lifting and carrying, all of which makes the work here easier and lighter.’