Number of UK fish processing units continued to declinre –

Number of UK fish processing units continued to declinre Published:  18 June, 2013

THE number of fish processing units in Britain and people working in the industry have declined sharply over the last eight years, a Barclays bank report on seafood and frozen food shows. However, there has been an increase in productivity.

In 2004 there were 573 processing units and 18,180 people working in them. By 2012 – just over a year ago – that figure had fallen to 325 units and 11,186 employees. The sharpest decline took place between 2010 and last year when almost 60 units closed down. The report does not spell out why so many shut their doors, but the last two years has seen considerable contraction with the closure of companies such as Cumbrian Seafoods and the Cromer Crab Company in Norfolk when hundreds of people lost their jobs. There has also been a run down in traditional fish processing ports in Scotland and England. Despite the sharp drop in the number of factory outlets, more fish is being processed. The market value of frozen fish rose by 4.1 per cent in the 52 weeks to March 2012 to around £800-million. Frozen meat and poultry (pre horsemeat scandal) showed the strongest growth in the frozen sector over that period.The report says that the value of seafish landed by UK vessels during 2011, the most recent year for available statistics, rose on account of an increase in the prices of pelagic fish. The value of all fish landed in Britain by both UK and foreign boats increased to £828.2 million. As is to be expected the biggest fishing ports are in Scotland and Shetland with Peterhead top of the list, followed by Lerwick and Fraserburgh. The biggest earning English ports, Plymouth, Brixham and Newlyn, are all to be found in the West Country.