Competition in the UK’s chilled and frozen fish sector is set to intensify in 2012 as Kennemervis Group, a major European fish supplier, gears up to make its UK debut.

The Dutch-owned company, which specialises in white fish and has an annual turnover of about €230m, is currently talking to UK retailers and foodservice companies about two of its products - Pure Fish Label, a branded range of sustainable fish products free from artificial preservatives and additives, and Lovet, a new technology for healthier, lower-fat breaded fish.

It expects to have the first Lovet products on UK shelves in spring 2012 and is also pursuing UK listings for Pure Fish Label. Both were developed and will be marketed through Kennemervis’s Fishmasters fish processing arm.

Andrew Foster of F&SC Consulting, which is overseeing the UK launch of Fishmasters products, said the UK seafood market was very competitive, with strong, established players, but the time was right for Fishmasters and Kennemervis. “UK consumers would welcome an alternative in seafood products, and 2012 is going to be a massive opportunity for Fishmasters in the UK,” he said. “We fully recognise the strength of other players in the market, but we are convinced we are in a position to compete.”

Foster added that Fishmasters had invested €2.5m into developing Lovet, which allowed coated fish to be baked rather than fried, creating products with 4% fat compared with the market average of 10%-15%. “This is a clear example of Fishmasters’ willingness to invest to bring something different to the market,” he said, adding that one UK retailer was already considering using Lovet for some chilled own-label products.

Pure Fish Label, on the other hand, was designed to tap interest in sustainable fishing and clean labels, Foster said. The range, launched in 2010, is already well established on the Continent, where it is offered across a range of white fish products.