Brexit issues to be taken to Brussels by Grimsby seafood leaders

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 4 May 2019

Brexit-based seafood issues will be examined at Europe’s heart next week as industry leaders gather on a world stage.

Seafish, the Grimsby-headquartered public body that supports the £10 billion UK seafood industry, is hosting a series of workshops at the Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, the three-day event which takes place from today. 

What was scheduled to be the first show with the UK outside the EU, it looks set to be the last, and the unexpected chance to issue vital information is being seized upon at an event that has always drawn strong support from Grimsby, the gateway to the British retail market.

Seafish hosts a stand at Europe’s largest seafood expo each year, promoting its services and products and providing a meeting space for industry to use.

There will be special sessions on border process post-Brexit delivered by Ivan Bartolo, pictured left, Seafish’s regulatory affairs advisor, and one entitled Preparing Your Business for EU Exit with Hannah Thompson, regulatory affairs advisor.

An introduction to the recently-launched Trade and Tariff Tool will also be given. 

Michaela Archer, head of insight at Seafish, covering seafood performance, consumer purchase trends and ways Seafish can help businesses, will give an overview of the UK seafood market. She said: “This is an opportunity for those who supply to UK retail and foodservice to get information which can help businesses with their market growth.

“Foodservice and retail are important and we have data to show how seafood has been performing and how consumers’ behaviour patterns change. Our factsheets help keep a watching eye on what has been going on.”

It comes after bumper supplies met peak demand for Easter, leaving Grimsby merchants delighting in trade conditions, with the Good Friday weather helping out too. It has continued, with strong imports for a solid month. 

Simon Dwyer, Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association secretariat, said: “I will be out in Brussels,  on the Seafish stand, and meeting with suppliers of fish from Iceland and Norway, and places like Vietnam and China as well. 

“It is very much a case of assuring everyone it is business as usual. Underlining the credentials, the 5,000 jobs, making sure people know we are not going in a direction where as a market we are getting smaller. We are definitely still open for business and investment.”

Trump tariffs on seafood? Brussels could be an opportunity to discuss strategy.

One pressing issue could be potential trade tariffs between the US and Europe, with suggestions seafood - particularly pollock - could be part of it. This comes despite a visit from US Ambassador Woody Johnson to Grimsby, part of the groundwork for a potential free trade deal post Brexit between the Whitehouse and Westminster.

A spokesperson for Young’s Seafood, a major transatlantic importer, developing a strong market Stateside, said: “The EU and the US are the two largest seafood markets in the world and the flow of goods between the two benefits both parties in helping to balance world supply and demand. 

“Tariff increases between the EU and the US would be detrimental to both so it is in their interests to keep that flow of goods in equilibrium.”

Heading to Brussels?

The UK Market Insights talk will take place on Tuesday at 2.30pm and is open to those who supply seafood to the UK market. Places are limited so it is advisable to arrive early.

The Border Process Post Brexit takes place on Tuesday at 3.30pm and Wednesday at 1.30pm.

Preparing Your Business for EU Exit is on Wednesday at 2pm, with Introduction to the Trade and Tariff Tool on Tuesday at 2pm.

Seafish can be found in Hall 8-4543 at the Brussels Expo.

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