UK seafood companies urged to grab new export opportunities –

UK seafood companies urged to grab new export opportunities Published:  18 February, 2013

MAJOR opportunities exist for seafood companies which want to export to Iceland, a Grimsby conference has been told.

Steve Noblett from UK Trade and Industry  (UKTI), who recently led a successful trade mission to Iceland, said the government regarded food and drink as a huge industry, which had total sales of £6.9-billion,  but felt it was not doing enough to exploit its full export potential.

“Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, wants the industry to match the efforts of countries like France and Germany by 2015,” he  told a Humber Seafood Development Day seminar.

“There is now an open door to put (food related) businesses  forward. Let us know the markets you want to go and we will try to help.”

He said UK Trade and Industry was working to secure a major British food and seafood presence in several countries over the next 12 months including the all- important European Seafood Exhibition in Brussels in April, and at Murmansk in Russia later in the year, where there was  large fishing industry looking for markets.

He was also planning a return to Iceland in the summer where the effort would be on getting British food and seafood products into Icelandic markets.

“They like our food chain in Iceland, and they also like our traceability systems,” he added. “Most important of all they don’t products being labelled in English.”

There were also moved to establish firms links with other important fishing countries such as Norway.

Mr Noblett said his department was  already working closely with 18 to 20 Humber-based seafood firms to help them grow their export potential.

His department was ready and able to offer guidance and advice to seafood exporters, as well as financial assistance for travel and setting up stands at overseas exhibitions. And British Embassies were also part of the export drive by offering their buildings for receptions and other networking  events.

While the days of pots of free money being made available were now over for everyone,  there was help toward the cost of air travel along with other forms of financial assistance in the form of grants and credits.

Mr Noblett concluded: “We want to help you get your seafood exports out into the rest of the world.”

Simon Dwyer, chairman of the Humber Trade Corridor, told the conference that more  fish was  now coming into the Humber than the rest of the  United Kingdom put together a key seafood conference in Grimsby was told. And this now presented local seafood firms with potentially lucrative new growth and export opportunities.

Liz Baghurst, an independent consultant with Grimsby-based Seafood Management Consultants, outlined the scale of help that was available to the fishing industry through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) with companies able to secure development grants of up to £300,000.

She said last year alone Seafood had helped at least six industry-related companies secure EFF grants and her own career total with the company and her previous local authority employers had already amounted to £55-million.

She said the European Fisheries Fund was focusing in  part on small and medium businesses with a less than 250  people on the payroll and an annual turnover of £50-million or less.