Ingredient Focus: Seafood

The regional seafood industry's challenges and changing demands from consumers

A selection of seafood.
A selection of seafood.


Fresh Innovation

The CAS Fresh preservation method was invented by Norio Owada and represents a global breakthrough that is revolutionising seafood preservation.

Using the combined effects of extreme cold and a magnetic field comparable to that of the North Pole, the flavours, smells and textures of the fish are kept intact

Seabass preserved using the Cas Fresh preservation method was selected by Produits de la Mer magazine and the Centre Culinaire Contemporain in Rennes as the Favourite Seafood Innovation at the Assises de la pêche et des produits de la mer convention in France.

Waterfront replaces Dubai Fish Market

After almost 60 years of existence, the iconic Deira Fish Market closed its doors last month. The good news is that it’s been replaced by the brand new Waterfront Market near Hamriya Port.

The state-of-the-art facility, located on Al Khaleej Road, is spread over more than 100,000 square metres, and sells fresh fish, fruit, vegetables and meat (find a map locating the market’s exact spot here).

The market will also eventually be home to restaurants, cafés, shops and a hypermarket. The Waterfront market is expected to serve as many as 500,000 visitors a month and is said to be a neater, cleaner food environment, with air-conditioning, odour control, covered parking facilities and stricter hygiene regulations.


Frozen Arctic Surfclam Sushi-Ready Slices

Used widely in Japanese foodservice, Clearwater Seafoods’ MSC-certified Arctic Surfclams are now available in pre-cut and portioned sushi-ready slices.

Prized for their sweet taste, unique texture and vibrant red tongues, Frozen Arctic Surfclam Sushi-Ready Slices are pre-blanched, making them ready-to-serve once thawed.

“Simply place a sushi-ready slice on rice or serve on its own sashimi style for convenience and visual appeal,” said Clearwater Seafoods marketing director Europe, Middle-East and Africa John Ashmore.

CAS Fresh Seabass

Qwehli seabass is line-caught by small Breton boats specialised in line fishing. Only a few of them are landed per day and they are caught with care ensurng that the flesh remains intact, without any bruises or colour change. Qwelhi general manager Simon Deprez said: “Using the CAS Fresh for the first time on line-caught seabass, a symbol of quality fisheries in France, was done on purpose. It allows us to go beyond logistic constraints to bring this beautiful product of the French coasts to Asia.”



Inevitably, consumers tend to define a product as fresh or frozen. Increasingly, suppliers are offering alternatives to traditional methods of seafood preservation. Qwehli general manager Simon Deprez said: “That is what we call the ‘new fresh’. Many chefs are already convinced by our technology and its benefit for the marine life and resources, but there are still chefs to be convinced. The advantages and disadvantages of fresh and frozen products are well known to all, what makes our difference not yet. That is our major challenge.”


According to the Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO), countries such as the UAE consume an average of 33kg per capita a year, almost double the global average of 18kg. It is clear that Seafex, the region’s largest dedicated seafood expo, powered by Gulfood, becomes more important every year in helping to keep the pipeline of seafood between suppliers and the F&B, retail and hospitality sectors open and flowing.

The event took place from September 18-20, 2017 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), and was one of six hospitality food trade shows co-located under the umbrella of the Dubai International Hospitality Week (DIHW). Now in its sixth year, Seafex has become a key platform for the sourcing of seafood from around the world, enabling suppliers in the region to meet a growing demand. According to Euromonitor International, the fish and seafood market is expected to reach a value of AED 26.6bn (US$ 7.3 billion) by 2021.

DWTC senior vice president, exhibitions & events management Trixie LohMirmand said: “The market for seafood continues to grow at an exceptional rate across the region and beyond, not only in our restaurants and hotels, but also at a retail level as consumers make healthier lifestyle choices. This means that Seafex gains even more importance and influence for professional chefs, catering buyers, wholesalers, restaurant owners and retail distributors, and enables suppliers from the key supply countries around the world to transact and network.”

Top trends


Seafood consumption in the Middle East continues to surpass the global average. This is driven by the region’s economic development, and more effective supply chain distribution to ensure optimum quality of the ingredient. Locally farmed shellfish is also starting to be commercialised. Dibba Bay oysters, grown just off the coast of Fujairah, are already being supplied to hotels in the UAE and are set to be availabe in major supermarkets by the end of the year.

Health Conscious

Seafood is widely considered a healthy source of protein. Accoring to East Coast Shellfish managing director Ramie Murray: “Oysters are packed with healthy minerals, vitamins, and organic compounds with particularly high concentrations of protein (a single oyster can obtain up to 9g) and zinc along with vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, copper, manganese, and selenium.” Oysters also contain high levels of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium and are a source of beneficial cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acids.


With over-fishing and endagered stocks becoming major concerns, the industry is increasingly moving towards sustainable practices. For companies such as Qwehli, this approach goes beyond fishing. The company uses technology in order to be sustainable from start (precise selection) to finish (preservation). With traceability also an issue, Qwehli general manager Simon Deprez added: “We can now specify to our chefs where, when and how the fish was caught.”

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