Working on a supply chain gang

this summit

PLANS to create an organisation representing Scotland’s aquaculture supply chain were mooted during a workshop in Edinburgh yesterday.
The meeting, opened by Rural Economy minister Fergus Ewing and bringing together around 90 people from across the industry, looked at how businesses could accelerate growth.
The event, at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, emerged from the Aquaculture Growth to 2030 vision, which established the Aquaculture Industry Leadership Group (AILG), and the focus was specifically on finding ways to develop the supply chain.
Stewart Graham, managing director of leading supplier Gael Force Group, as well as co-chair of the AILG, said the discussion revolved around possible means of collaboration.
‘We see a big opportunity, and the biggest part of that opportunity for the supply chain is to ensure, first of all, that the industry itself is growing,’ he said.
Delegates at the summit – who included salmon producers, feed companies, government bodies, and equipment makers – were asked whether suppliers should form some sort of association or forum.
Graham said the idea sprang from a trip he made to Denmark last year, along with Highlands and Islands Enterprise head of food and drink, Elaine Jamieson, who organised yesterday’s conference.
They were invited by the Danish Fish Tech Group, which represents a network of about 100 seafood equipment suppliers who sell to global markets.
‘It was very clear that how they function together as a group brought critical mass to their supply chain,’ said Graham.
‘It also allows them to do things like create trade export missions, fact finding missions and exhibition stands that they could all participate in. I think it’s tremendously successful.’
It was up to the Scottish supply chain to decide whether it should form some similar mechanism, said Graham – ‘to create scale and take further advantage of the opportunity in Scotland today, and in line with the planned growth, but also how we will build and develop our export market’.
‘Other countries do this very well and perhaps we should learn lessons and best practice from what others already do.’
He said about two thirds of delegates supported the idea yesterday, but no firm conclusions were reached. Data collected from the day will be collated and circulated in due course.
But he added that ‘there was definitely a consensus in the room that more collaboration would be better’.
AKVA general manager Jason Cleaversmith, who was also at the summit, said he supported the idea of greater collaboration.
‘The suppliers should be the innovation engine for the industry and, through that, we have value to bring to the table, and there should be some formal recognition that we are an integral part of the aquaculture sector.’
But Graham said supply chain growth cannot be disentangled from industry growth, and any acceleration will depend on producers getting more biomass. ‘Fundamentally, there is nothing very much we can do in the supply chain if the industry doesn’t grow,’ said Graham.
‘We can take a bit more share of it, and substitute a bit more import but, ultimately, if we want to feed and develop the wider economy, the bottom line is we need more growth from the producers.’
He said he is ‘extremely optimistic that we will double the economic value of the industry to Scotland by 2030’, and a big part of that will be growth in production.
He believes that much of this will come from the new SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) modelling, which allows existing sites to get more biomass, and from new sites, many of which may well be higher energy, larger sites.
‘Some sites will probably close too. But the net position will be that the existing footprint will very much provide a significant part of the growth that the industry are looking for.’
He predicts, based on what is in the water now, that production this year could exceed 190,000 tonnes, after dipping to around 150,000 tonnes last year.
‘I am hopeful that we will see growth back into line with the aspirations of 2030,’ said Graham.
Picture (from left to right): Amanda Stott, Facilitate This!, Jason Cleaversmith, AKVA; Julie Hesketh-Laird, SSPO; Mike Forbes, Ace Aquatec; David Gregory, SAIC; Alban Denton, Loch Duart; Fergus Ewing, Scottish Government; Elaine Jamieson, HIE; Stewart Graham, Gael Force; Jim Gallagher, Scottish Sea Farms; Alistair Ferguson, Ferguson Transport; John Marshall, Benchmark Holdings (photo:Gary Doak/HIE)

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