Companies from the Highlands and Islands are grasping the opportunity to give Europe and beyond a flavour of what they have to offer when they showcase their produce at the Seafood Expo Global 2014 in Brussels.
This global annual event which takes place next week (Tuesday 6th May – Thursday 8th May) attracts over 25,000 seafood buyers along with exhibitors from more than 70 countries. They are confident in finding new global business. In 2013, Scottish exhibitors reported additional international turnover for the next three years of just over £60 million, as a direct result of attending the Seafood Expo. This is a 50% increase on the previous year, when additional sales of £40 million were reported.
Five companies from the Highlands and Islands will form part of the nineteen exhibiting on the Scottish Pavilion, hosted by Seafood Scotland and organised by Scottish Development international (SDI). The Pavilion offers opportunities to meet customers, enjoy a tasty platter prepared by a team of top Scottish chefs, learn more about the wider industry and share ideas with the international seafood community.
Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead, who will visit the show, said: “The Seafood Expo is a great opportunity for Scottish companies to showcase their fabulous produce and boost exports by gaining access to new markets, which are the key theme of the Scottish Seafood Plan I launched in March. This year representatives from our premium inshore sector and active fishermen will be attending. I am really pleased that so many fishermen are coming to Brussels this year and I appreciate them taking the time away from sea to attend events like this. This is a great opportunity to learn and see more about the wider seafood industry and I look forward to meeting with them.
Companies which operate in the Highlands and Islands attending the show are: Associated Seafoods; Hebridean Smokehouse; The Scottish Salmon Company; Scottish Seafarms; and Meridian Salmon.
Hebridean Smokehouse on North Uist is a specialist smoker of fish and shellfish, selling into UK and global markets.
General Manager, Christopher West, said: "The seafood expo is an excellent platform to engage with our customers and develop relationships with potential new partners in Europe and further afield. This year we are seeking appointments with distributors in France, Germany and the Netherlands but these events will often throw up potential business from anywhere in the world.
“The show is without doubt the best shop window available to us when looking for new business in Europe. It is testament to the event’s success that we now use it to meet existing customers as well as look for new partners overseas. We consider it as a very important place to “be seen” and being part of the Scottish Pavilion is a great benefit."
This year Seafood Scotland is sponsoring a learning journey to the Expo for twelve fishermen - three are from the Highlands and Islands: Alistair Philip from Isle of Skye; William John Maclean from Mallaig; and Lachlan Robertson from Oban.
They will benefit from a presentation on the global seafood market by SDI, a briefing from a major retailer, and accompanied visits to several national pavilions to learn about other countries’ seafood industries. The BBC country affairs programme Landward is following the fishermen on their trip, for a ‘seafood special’ to be broadcast next month.
Graham Young, Head of Seafood Scotland, said: “Scottish seafood has a key role to play in leading sustainable economic growth in the food and drink sector and we anticipate a lot of interest from overseas buyers in the top quality seafood our chefs will be sampling.”
“These fishermen have never visited the seafood expo before and are looking forward to learning what the wider seafood business is all about,” explained Graham Young.
“They come from the pelagic, whitefish and inshore fishing sectors and from all around the Scottish coast. We want to show them that their competition really is global and that seafood quality is one of the most important marketing tools.”
Scottish Seafood exports represent a major proportion of overall food and drink exports. Scottish vessels account for approximately 66% of the UK fleet, land roughly 70% of the UK catch, and capture the bilk of the world’s langoustine supplies. Scotland is the world’s third largest producer of farmed salmon, exporting to more than 60 international markets.