Canned Fish from Asia Makes a Splash in Spain

Canned fish from Asia makes a splash in Spain

Canned fish from Asia makes a splash in Spain


Spain’s fish canning industry has undergone some restructuring which has affected many of the country’s key economic sectors over the last few years .

Since 2010, several smaller canneries have joined forces to strengthen their financial muscle and boost their capacity to expand geographically, particularly towards South America. However, the industry is set to undergo a sea change as trade barriers are broken down and the competition from Asian producers heats up.

Future consolidation operations are set to have more of an international flavour.

Industry Facts and Figures

  • Spain is the world’s second largest producer of canned tuna after Thailand and leader in the European Union with 15 percent of global production and 70 percent of the EU’s quota.
  • Tuna is the most important product for Spain’s canning industry, accounting for 65-75 percent of production.
  • Galicia produces 87 percent of canned tuna originating from Spain.
  • July 2010: Mexico’s Mezgo Inversores bought a 60 percent stake in flagship Galician fish canning company Hijos de Ramon Pena SL.
  • June 2011: The EU reached an agreement with Papua New Guinea allowing that country to sell tuna and its subproducts in the EU without tariffs and without meeting certain origin rules.
  • May 2013: At the end of May, the EU is due to begin negotiations with Thailand over a free trade agreement. Thailand is the EU’s third largest trading partner within the ASEAN.
  • The National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish and Shellfish is lobbying the government and the EU to have canned fish products, particularly tuna, excluded.

More M&A on the cards? 

The sustainability of Spain’s canning industry is vital for future economic growth, but the competition from Far Eastern coasts is fierce, given the low production and labour costs in countries like Thailand. The canneries are committed to maintaining production in Spain, while also increasing investments in South American plants, but they also realise that the globalisation of markets presents opportunities. So, its a case of “if you can´t beat them, join them”!

Last year, the multinational Galician firm Grupo Calvo reached an agreement with Italy’s Bolton Group, whereby the latter acquired a minority stake in Grupo Calvo, which operates on five continents. Argali Abogados were advisors on the deal. The Bolton Group operates in 14 European countries, as well as in Thailand, Dubai and Mexico, offering Grupo Calvo a future platform to Asia.

More of these type of agreements are in the cards for Spanish canneries, which could eventually lead to their direct investment in countries like Thailand. If you are interested in mergers or acquisitions in the canning industry, contact Argali Abogados for more information or leave a comment below.

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