Irish Queenie investment pays off in French exports –

Irish Queenie investment pays off in French exports Published:  02 November, 2012

Kilhorne Bay Seafoods, the Northern Irish scampi and prawn processor, has won business in France for Queenie Scallops, a recently launched product.

The company has invested over £450,000 in state-of-the-art production equipment to add Queen Scallops (Queenies) to its existing and successful prawn and scampi products.

The investment in exports is creating 13 new jobs at the company’s Annalong processing plant in County Down, where it currently employs 33 people.

The company sells the vast majority of its output of scallops, peeled and breaded prawns and scampi outside Northern Ireland. Key export markets developed by the company include Denmark, Italy and France. It has been assisted by Invest Northern Ireland, the region’s business agency, and the European Fisheries Fund.

John Chambers, managing director of Kilhorne Bay Seafoods, said: “We’ve had to respond to EU catch quotas impacting opportunities for us by exploring opportunities for other quality seafood that we can now source and use our expertise to process for customers in the catering, wholesale and retail sectors.

“The decision to diversify into Queenies follows extensive research that has helped us to identify seafood that is not restricted by quotas and which offered a significant market opportunity especially in Europe and particularly in France. Queenies are abundant around our coastline and are also attractive because they are sweeter than King Scallops. The investment will also benefit local fishing boats which will be able to extend days at sea by fishing into new areas.

“We’ve used on existing customer base to build business for the scallops and have been successful in growing sales in France.”   Demand for the Queenies has developed strongly and the company now supplies distributors in Bolougne and Le Havre, which provide the products to small processors in Brittany for use in ready meals.

Formed in 1969, Kilhorne Bay Seafoods sources its raw materials from trawlers based in Kilkeel, Ardglass and Portavogie, all based in County Down. Quality processed products are now supplied to customers in catering, wholesale and retailing in Britain and other parts of Europe. 

The company initially processed herring for the German market until the North Sea fishing grounds were closed because of overfishing. It was among the first to diversity into scampi processing. In 1987 the business expanded successfully into cooked and peeled prawns.

The company currently sells more than 90 per cent of its range of products outside Northern Ireland.