Cooke Seafood group expands footprint with the acquisition of Belgian shrimp processor Morubel

BELGIUM – Cooke Seafood group, one of the world’s largest salmon farming companies, has acquired the leading shrimp and prawn processor in Western Europe, Morubel, from Bencis Capital Partners, for an undisclosed sum.

Morubel, located at a 14,000 square-meter plant in Oostende, supplies its organic and frozen seafood to retail and food service customers in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, and France.

Morubel’s wild catch product range includes Argentina red shrimp, tropical prawns and shrimp, Vannamei prawns, crayfish, and squid.

The company supplies farmed aquaculture including Black Tiger prawns, northern prawns, mussels, and scallops.

Morubel’s website says the company delivers products with full traceability of its global supply chain as well as multiple sustainability and food safety certifications.

Cooke said the shrimp and prawn processor which was acquired in 2014 by Bencis Capital Partners, has a production capacity of 18,000 metric tonnes for frozen seafood, retail, and bulk packaging with an opportunity for increased growth.

In 2017, Bencis which snapped up the Belgium-based company from the Holland-based Heiploeg Group restructured the operation of Morubel to focus on producing and packaging all of Shore’s frozen seafood.

The shore is an umbrella of Belgium-based Morubel, German firm Ristic, Dutch company Telson, and Rainbow Export Processing in Costa Rica, which were under the ownership of investment company Bencis Capital Partners.

The company together with German firm Ristic was also given the mandate of leading the sale of seafood products in the European region.

Through the acquisition of Morubel, the Canadian seafood company noted to have expanded its diversified operations in Europe which includes Cooke Aquaculture Scotland, and Northeast Nutrition Scotland.

The investments also encompass Cooke Aquaculture Spain/Grupo Culmarex and Bioriginal Europe/Asia B.V. in the Netherlands.

With annual sales of around CAD2.4billion (US$1.8bn), Cooke has a global outreach that harvests and sells 30 percent wild seafood and 70 percent farmed seafood while also having in-market European sales representatives.

CEO Glenn Cooke said in a statement: “Morubel’s focus on developing sustainable, new added-value products and continuously focusing on innovation was an attractive complement to our European seafood offerings. “

Dirk De Pandelaere, the CEO of Morubel, stated that the Morubel team welcomes the sale to Cooke which has been found as an ideal alignment to enable the company’s future growth.

With it being under the New Brunswick-based company, the team sees a lot of opportunities to expand our product line to sell additional Cooke products in European countries where Cooke is building its presence, he added.

Cooke’s purchase of Morubel comes on the heels of a failed bid to take over Tassal Group in Australia.

Instead, the privately-owned Canadian business upped its stake in the salmon firm last month.

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