'Never a better time to export seafood' as Government grant-aid rules relaxed

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 17 Oct 2018

Seafood businesses have been told there has never been a better time to export.

Experts in overseas trade told how it was vital to build on Britain’s world-leading food standards, our place in the global agenda and short-term support just made available.

Yorkshire and Humber Department of International Trade advisor, Steve Noblett, made the plea as he addressed a special seminar held as part of the two-day UK Seafood Summit.

He told how last week purse strings were relaxed on export aid for the sector, critical to Grimsby, opening up match funding for export-focused activity from SMEs.

And the senior figure said there were huge reasons to look for the new customers further afield.

“British food and drink has a very good reputation abroad,” he said. “The standards we operate at are light years ahead of most other countries.

“Whether we like supermarkets or not, they have driven a culture in this country of accreditation, transparency and open-book accounting, and raised the standards here without a shadow of a doubt. That makes our food and drink manufacturing the envy of the world. The standards we put in are adopted around the world and the foodservice sector and the retail buyers are looking for that safety as well.”

MORE: Our ultimate guide to the UK Seafood Summit 2018

Due to its nature seafood is at the fore of these standards, and is one of four key regional sectors in the food offer. “We are leading the way when it comes to what we are doing in the food and drink industry,” Mr Noblett said.

“Exporting should not be an issue in any way, it is another customer. There may be language difficulties and financial models you have got to look at, but we are here to open these doors for you.

“We have food and drink experts in 60-odd countries, a dedicated person in an embassy to help you. We have direct contact with them, they come to the UK and we do bring them to the regions. They have a wealth of knowledge for us.”

The past week has seen ERDF rule changes open up match funding for trade show attendance, travel and internationalisation of websites. It had previously considered the seafood sector as an already-supported area of trade.

Mr Noblett said: “In food and drink, and particularly seafood, I believe trade missions are a key part of finding overseas markets.

“The good news is ERDF can now support seafood people, the bad news it has got to spent in seven months before we come out of Europe. Project plans must be in by March 31, and completed by July next year.

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“There has never been a better time to export. Great Britain the brand is very high on the agenda for reasons we know. If you are thinking about going into exporting, come and talk to us, there are so many doors we can open. Let’s get British seafood back to number one.”

Elsa Fairbanks, director of the Food and Drink Exporter Association, sent her apologies having been called into a meeting with World Trade Organisation heads alongside International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox.

In her presentation, summarised by Malcolm Large of Seafish, she had told how there had been 10.3 per cent growth in exports from the UK in the past year, in food and drink, with "the weak pound undoubtedly helping export sales".

She stated that new products were being specifically created for export markets, with "successful exporters starting to put significant resource behind these markets."

MORE: Tariff guide given to UK Seafood Summit audience ahead of potential no-deal Brexit

Grimsby's big two seafood brands, Young's Seafood and Saucy Fish Co, are both present in export markets, with the US bringing strong growth. 

EU27 countries represent 18 per cent of all exports, with country break down, seeing the US-led significantly, followed by Germany, France, China, Australia, UAE, Holland, India, Republic of Ireland and Japan.    

Arina Motova, senior economist at Seafish, also presented a new trade and tariff tool for industry that is being worked up.

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