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 European Seafood Exposition (ESE) 2013 in Brussels.
This global annual event attracts over 25,000 seafood buyers and sellers from around the world and hosts the prestigious Seafood Prix d’Elite new product competition which is announced at the world’s largest seafood fair on April 23-25.
Scottish companies reported sales of more than £40m as a direct result of attending last year’s event.
The ESE is the world’s largest seafood fair and will once again have a Scottish Pavilion, hosted by Scottish Development International (SDI), in association with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scotland Food and Drink.
Sixteen companies will exhibit on the Scottish Pavilion at the show and the four companies from the Highlands and Islands attending are: Associated Seafoods Ltd from Buckie, Hebridean Smokehouse Ltd from North Uist, Highland Smoked Salmon from Fort William and Scottish Salmon Group from Stornoway. Several businesses including Marine Harvest, Shetland Catch and Greig Seafood (Hjaltland) will also be exhibiting at ESE in the adjoining hall.
The Scottish Pavilion is one of the most popular and busy venues at ESE and benefits from a seafood bar operated by Seafood Scotland. This year it will be manned by a team from the Federation of Chefs Scotland, who will showcase Scottish Seafood at its best.
Supported by HIE, the seafood extravaganza offers huge networking opportunities with suppliers and customers worldwide.
Iain Sutherland from HIE will be attending the event. He said: “The seafood industry is enjoying a strong global market and by working together to maintain quality of its produce we can take advantage of this high demand. The seafood industry in the Highlands and Islands makes a major contribution to the economic viability of many of the most remote communities in the region.
“The seafood exposition is an excellent platform for businesses to engage with their customers and develop relationships with potential new partners in Europe and further afield.”
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 exposition is an excellent platform to engage with our customers and develop relationships with potential new partners in Europe and further afield.
“The European Seafood Exposition 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."
Head of Seafood Scotland, Graham Young, 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.
The team includes the Federation president Kevin MacGillivray and vice president Ian MacDonald, as well as the current Scottish Chef of the Year David Littlewood, and we are looking forward to some exciting and tasty seafood dishes.
The seafood bar also acts as an information point, with experts on fisheries and aquaculture, business development and marketing on hand to assist companies. It is a congenial place for exhibiting companies and Scottish visitors to conduct business, network, and share ideas with the international seafood community.
The European Union is the world’s largest seafood market, followed by the United States and Japan. The Scottish Government and Scotland Food & Drink have identified the food and drink sectors as key economic areas for development, especially in the export market. The target is to increase the value of the food and drink sectors from £7.5bn to £12.5bn by 2017.