It might not be a big deal to have access to fresh fish and seafood if you live in Valencia (or any other city that is located near the coast) but where I come from the next coast is over 600 km away. Still, there are supermarkets in my home area with fresh saltwater fish in their counters. So I began to ask myself, how do they manage to get the fish from all over the world to the supermarkets in the middle of Germany and what are the important aspects of the journey the fish make.
Since fresh fish is a highly perishable good and spoils very fast if it is not stored under the right conditions, its transport to the stores and markets is one of the biggest challenges for the food industry and its logistic.
One of the leading European fish-wholesales, METRO Cash & Carry, claims to deliver the fish in only 48 hours at the maximum. These 48 hours include the whole timespan from the moment the fish has been caught to the point it is placed into the counter. This is a quite impressive feat and also very important because only a fast transportation ensures that the fish retains its good quality.
The distribution center of METRO receives fish from several European countries, including Spain, but also from overseas, for example from Sri-Lanka, New Zealand and Australia. Every fish, regardless of its origin, is treated the same.
During its complete travel, the fish is stored in polystyrene boxes filled with ice and is transported in special refrigerated trucks.
First stop: Logistics center
During these hours, several quality and hygiene regulations have to be adhered to.For example, the temperature of the fish at the time of arrival at the logistics center must not be over 2° Celsius. Directly after the arrival the fish is checked by inspectors in regard to looks, smell, temperature, firmness etc. Additionally, a laboratory specialized on fish performs microbiological, physical and sensorial test on a regular basis.
Second stop: Wholesale store
The next step the fish takes is the tour from the logistics center to wholesale store which is done in less than 12 hours. Again, several quality inspections are conducted once the fish arrives.
Third stop: Supermarket
Finally, the fish arrives in the supermarket where it can be purchased by you. Here, too, it has to be cooled constantly in order to keep it fresh.
Final stop: Your Kitchen
Before you can cook your fish you have to transport it from the store to your kitchen. Make sure you have any means of cooling your fish on hand when you buy it. Only if you keep your fish cool during its final journey it will retain its quality and you can enjoy your meal without any negative side effects. Keep that in mind and then there is nothing else to do but enjoy your meal.
Fish logistics = Not your average logistics