The results were announced today of a 2-year programme led by Seafood Scotland, in which 64 Scottish seafood companies were helped to add value to their products or processes. The 'Value Added' project was funded jointly by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Enterprise, Aberdeenshire Council and the European Fisheries Fund.
"The programme created 110 new jobs and secured a number of others in our fishing dependent communities," said Libby Woodhatch, CEO of Seafood Scotland. "It also resulted in increased turnover for 82 percent of the companies involved, with 22 percent reporting increases in excess of £50,000 per year. The combined total increase was almost £2 million."
"The programme proved to be excellent value for money, with an average project spend of £2,140 per company returning between £28k and £37k each. This equates to a 13 -17 fold return on the initial funding expenditure."
Companies were given up to five days of fully funded assistance from a consultant to undertake work that included re-engineering of packaging, development of branding strategies, creation of new seafood ranges for food service or retail sale, extension of shelf life for existing products, design and development of promotional literature, and promotional work.
New retail and wholesale business opportunities, new product development and the creation/protection of jobs were major benefits gained by participants.
Argyll Smokery (Dunoon), Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (Glasgow), North Bay (Peterhead) and Orkney Fisheries are just some of the companies who participated in the project.
"We used the funding to set up a website and to undertake new product development for value added seafood," explained North Bay's Gordon Rennie. "Our smoked langoustines have since gained support from some of the UK's top chefs and they have appeared on two TV programmes."
The programme enabled new smokehouse venture the Argyll Smokery to gain their SALSA (safe and local supplier accreditation) certificate this summer, which immediately opened up opportunities to supply their award winning products into in a local Waitrose store. "Our salmon is on trial but selling well and we hope to roll out to more stores over the coming months," said partner Karen Baxter.
HIE was the main funder of the programme, and is delighted to see the results for businesses across Scotland and particularly so for the Highlands and Islands where the industry underpins many communities. Food and Drink Development Manager, Iain Sutherland said:
"A targeted boost in funding made a big difference to these businesses in tough trading times. It helped them to identify cost effective solutions that either sustained or increased growth above the industry norm over the past few years."
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council's Fisheries Working Group, Councillor Peter Argyle, said:
"Aberdeenshire Council's contribution to the project is part of an ongoing programme of support for the sector. It is therefore pleasing to see the survey results confirm that the project has helped local fish processing companies to maintain and improve their competitive edge in what are very challenging market conditions."
Rachel Stewart, Scottish Enterprise Project Manager said:
"Seafood Scotland has done an excellent job in delivering this important project. The job creation and turnover increase figures are impressive and emphasise the business benefits of adding value to what is already an outstanding Scottish product."
A second phase of the scheme is now up and running and focuses on 'maximising value'. It encourages companies to reduce energy costs, improve process capability, reduce product giveaway, manage waste, and seek SALSA, BRC and MSC Chain of Custody accreditation to help them improve retail capability.