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Dobroflot: only stronger hands in a storm

A good sailor will quickly react to any sea agitation, an excellent sailor will predict this excitement. Competent tactics and a proactive strategy allowed the Dobroflot group of companies to fully meet the “ninth wave” of tests caused by the pandemic - both on land and on water.

Alexander Efremov, manager of the Dobroflot group, told EastRussia how the group of companies coped with the tests in the difficult 2020 and outlined the needs of the fishing and processing industry in the near future.

Dobroflot: only stronger hands in a storm
Photo: Dobroflot

Alexander Efremov

Managing Director of the Dobroflot Group of Companies

What was the year 2020 for Dobroflot?

2020 turned out to be unexpectedly difficult and stressful for all of us. But despite the difficulties our company faced in the past year, Dobroflot launched the latest large-scale production of pollock fillets in the village of Novy Mir, Primorsky Krai. It is worth noting that we had to launch the plant in the midst of quarantine measures and restrictive measures. Despite all the difficulties, our units withstood the test with honor. Now the Novy Mir plant has been launched at full capacity and is already operating at full capacity.

Another good news is a confident victory in the "People's Brand" competition in the "Fish preservation" category. According to the majority of Russians who took part in the large-scale survey, Dobroflot canned food is the best in the country. In addition, canned food from Iwashi produced at the Vsevolod Sibirtsev floating base was included in the “Golden Hundred” of the best goods in Russia. And this is an objective and "live" recognition of the results of the work of the entire team of the Group of Companies, because the choice was made by real people who appreciated the quality of our products.

What is the current situation with exports to China? What measures is Dobroflot taking to meet the new requirements of the Chinese authorities for the production, storage and transportation of seafood?

Now in the midst of the most intensive in terms of catch season A in the Far East, there is enough work for our plant in the seaside village of Novy Mir. Four years ago, with the active support of the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, Yuri Trutnev, a support program was launched, which made it possible to build large processing plants in the Far East and, most importantly, to obtain quotas for catching wild fish. We can say that the authorities foresaw the situation with the closure of borders by China already then and did a lot to ensure that such a decision did not significantly affect the market.

What could the current export difficulties lead to? What is the likelihood that the PRC will cease to be the main consumer of our raw fish, and more capacity for its deep processing will appear inside the country? What does Dobroflot intend to do in this situation? Is the reorientation of exports to the markets of other countries possible, if yes - which ones?

Of course, any ban has a negative impact on business, but for the Dobroflot Group of Companies the damage from the ban on exports to China is minimal. Every day, only our plant in Novy Mir processes 65-80 tons of pollock, which is about 18 thousand tons annually.

As a result, we get high-quality, fresh fillets, ready for sale to the end consumer. Moreover, the products go to the domestic market, Europe and the United States. There, our wild pollock fillets are in special demand - this fish is considered a delicacy.

You have already spoken out in favor of government “fish interventions” - what should be their volume and how should they be organized to support the industry as effectively as possible?

Restrictions on the part of China may in the near future lead to a halt in the fishery for some fishing companies due to the lack of opportunities for alternative unloading and storage. In three large fishing subareas - Kamchatka-Kurilskaya, North Okhotomorskaya and West Kamchatka, there is already a lack of free capacities of refrigerated transport vessels.

If the state decides to organize an intervention, then the purchase price of pollock should be formed as a result of an open and transparent auction. An auction is the fairest and most reliable way to determine the best price.

The issue of volume is secondary today. First of all, it is necessary to determine the intended purpose of the products purchased as a result of the “fish interventions”. The state cannot afford to rot the purchased fish on the berth after unloading? Therefore, initially it is necessary to clearly indicate where and for which end consumer these products will go after purchase by the state. And where will it be stored?

In order to answer the question which products and in which region should the state purchase in the form of procurement interventions, it is necessary to answer the question: what is the primary task it solves? In my opinion, the task of the state under the current conditions is to ensure the unimpeded passage of season A (the most massive in terms of pollock fishing) in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk in the Far East. It is necessary to solve the problems with the export and storage of fish products previously intended for export to China. If this is true, then with all due respect to our northern colleagues, I don’t understand - what does the Northern Basin have to do with it?

On the Dobroflot website, on the About Company page, there is a phrase - “We are not chasing technology, but we are developing in order to preserve traditions”. At the same time, quite recently, the IT infrastructure of the company was significantly modernized - a hyper-converged solution for data processing was introduced. Why did it become necessary for this very expensive update and what will it give Dobroflot?

The Dobroflot Group of Companies is a full-cycle enterprise. Own fleet, onshore processing facilities and floating factories, packaging production, own transportation and logistics of finished products - all this requires an extensive IT infrastructure, a key element of which is a powerful computing cluster. At some point, the performance of our IT systems began to lag behind the pace of business development. When IT systems ceased to meet the needs of the Group of Companies, a decision was made to modernize.

We have looked at several alternative solutions. The easiest option is to upgrade the existing classic infrastructure, but this would force us to invest annually in maintaining and modernizing the hardware. Another option is to implement a more efficient hyperconverged structure, when all the computing power of the company is combined in a single software environment. The second solution was a little more expensive, but the traditional three-tier architecture is more expensive to build, difficult to maintain, and difficult to scale.

As a result, the cost of all the products we implemented did not significantly exceed the cost of the new classic infrastructure. In addition, Dobroflot received a 12-month installment plan.

The work was carried out in three settlements of the Primorsky Territory at all Dobroflot enterprises. The entire production cycle is now supported by a hyper-converged infrastructure. The implementation of the project allowed us to cover the needs for IT equipment and data processing systems for the next 5 years.

How, in your opinion, will the merger of the Nakhodka Base of Active Sea Fishery and Okeanrybflot affect the industry? How will Dobroflot react if such a merger takes place?

I don't know anything about this deal. In my opinion, this is unverified information.

How would you characterize the current state of the industry - is it on the verge of collapse, or is everything "not so scary"? What is your forecast for 2021? Did the coronavirus pandemic have to change plans and priorities? If yes, but how strong?

I am sure that the solution at the federal level of the issue of stimulating fish processing in Russia is correct and timely, especially since most of the work has already been done - most of the coastal factories have been commissioned and are working. But it is too early to talk about an early and successful completion of the entire project.

The investment process, launched 5 years ago, was intended to stimulate the entire fishing industry. The purpose of the federal project "Quotas in exchange for investment" is not only the construction of coastal factories, but also the laying of processing vessels for deep processing (fillet production). Onshore plants have already been built, but a large number of labor is required to bring production to its design capacity. I believe that the fishing industry should be included in the list for simplified import and registration of foreign labor, by analogy with how it was recently decided in the construction complex.

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