Seafood chief: ‘There’s a £1bn opportunity we can all share in’

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 19 Mar 2019

A STRONG delegation from Grimsby underlined the town’s credentials when it comes to being a gateway to UK retailers at North Atlantic Seafood Forum.

The £8 billion whitefish and salmon market was highlighted in a presentation by Young’s Seafood’s chief procurement officer Stuart Caborn to leading global industry figures at the annual event in Bergen, Norway.

He told how it was “truly fish’s time,” underlining how flexitarian diet choices were presenting great opportunity, while health and sustainability came to the fore, highlighting £1 billion of headroom if the sought-after two-portion-per-week target is hit.

Taking the market-leading position seriously, Mr Caborn said: “As the UK’s number one fish and seafood business, and largest seafood business in Grimsby, we feel it is our responsibility to have a voice at these events and help shape our industry.”

Stuart Caborn speaks at North Atlantic Seafood Forum. 

In his address, he looked at the opportunities and challenges. He said: “We collectively need to manage inflation; invest in research and development and understand the consumers. The more we know, the more we can sell.

“Take advantage of fish-friendly trends, this is truly fish’s time and we must collectively take advantage of it, and continue to drive innovation.

“That’s why, is if we can all collectively increase sustainable seafood consumption to the magic two-a-week, then that represents a £1 billion opportunity for all of us to share in.”

MORE: Full report from Mr Caborn's North Atlantic Seafood Forum speech

A year on from a key contribution from the town on a Brexit theme, and little had changed, with pressure-easing zero tariffs on the key exports from Scandinavia and Iceland announced in preparation for a potential no-deal as delegates returned to the day jobs.

Only a Faroese trade deal had been set before leaders flew out. Lots of talk centred around easing logistics pressures, with frictionless crossings a key desire, stated many times over since the vote to leave back in 2016.

Simon Dwyer, pictured right, is a UK and Ireland representative for NASF, a role he has now fulfilled for seven years. The Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association secretariat said: “I was asked a lot about what is happening with Brexit. There is a lot of frustration with suppliers of seafood, who are exasperated at not knowing what they should be planning for going forward, be it fresh or frozen exports, and whether they should be looking at different logistics routes with frictionless trade and preparing themselves for additional documentation.

“There wasn’t much comfort I could give them, other than ‘watch this space’.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg was in attendance, while in Grimsby – the UK’s seafood home – Theresa May fielded questions on vessels already at sea not knowing what customs regime the goods will arrive in.

Back in Bergen, and Seachill and Seafish were also represented, with the latter’s chief executive, Marcus Coleman, hosting a lunch with town representatives and some of the Icelandic and Norwegian suppliers.

Austevoll, HB Grandi and Norebo were all there, so too David Robinson, who leads on economic development for North East Lincolnshire Council.

The Young Seafood Leaders initiative developed by Seafish was highlighted, with Mr Coleman telling how he was inspired by Norway’s version at last year’s event.

John Hester, head of supply chain and operation at Young’s, part of the network, also spoke on behalf of the group.

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