UK seafood firm nets Europe's top prize –

UK seafood firm nets Europe’s top prize Published:  28 April, 2010

WHEN it comes to seafood, Grant’s Smokehouse of Maryport in Cumbria may not be among the giants. But last night it pulled off a huge giant killing act by winning the top foodservice Seafood Prix d’elite award at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels.

The award  – the highest in the industry – was given to Grant’s Smokehouse for its product, MacKnight’s Smoked Salmon Bacon. The product is made from Scottish Atlantic salmon that is cured with a special blend of rock salt, spices and maple syrup then carefully air dried and smoked to create a rich, flavourful smoked salmon bacon. The judges noted the unique taste of the product and that it offers a healthy alternative to traditional bacon products.

Meanwhile, Prins & Dingemanse of Yerseke in The Netherlands took the top award for best new retail product with its entry, Oyster Tasting Platter. An innovative approach to serving oysters, this product features three different kinds of oysters – four Zeeland oysters, four flat oysters and four French oysters – in a three compartment package.

But for independent UK fish producers the Grant’s Smokehouse success means that relatively small companies can compete with the biggest. It is also a company with an interesting history. Jonathan Brown, co-founder of Miami based Macknight Food Group, founded Grants in Maryport in 1984, before selling it in 2001 to Cumbrian Seafoods.  Then last August  the  Macknight Food Group took it over again with the intention of creating up to 60 news jobs and bringing it under one UK holding company with Grant’s as the flagship. Macknight also operates five seafood facilities in the United States.

The Seafood Prix d’Elite finalists were judged on taste and overall eating experience, packaging, marketability, convenience, nutritional value and originality. The judges’ scores were verified by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young.