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Seafood Grimsby and Humber Alliance on a mission to promote fish consumption. A key aim over the coming year for the Seafood Grimsby and Humber Alliance is to further build upon its successful initiatives to get people to eat more seafood and raise awareness of the nutritional benefits of fish.

Simon Dwyer, CEO of Seafox Management Consultants, who manages the group’s activities, told Fish Focus that the seafood cluster in the Grimsby area represented the biggest single hub of fish processing companies in the UK, employing around 5,500 direct jobs and a further 10,000 in the support and supply chains, accounting for annual sales of around £2bn.

The group is a broad church incorporating major players like Young’s Seafood, as well as small to medium-sized enterprises as represented under the umbrella of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association.

“Our over-riding aim is to try and get people to eat more fish and promote the message about the quality of our products, and that they are tasty, healthy-to-eat and nutritious, with a low carbon footprint,” he says.

Already, much work has been done to achieve growth, including the launch of ‘Made Great in Grimsby’ in 2019 – an initiative to promote provenance and underline the important role the town plays in the UK seafood supply chain.

The phrase ‘Made Great in Grimsby’ is seen as embracing the raw material import nature of the town’s fish processing activities, with 90 per cent sourced from overseas.

“Whether it is putting prawns in a bag or an intricate value-added high-end meal, we do it here, we make that product different, accessible and great,” Mr Dwyer said.

Further spin-offs have included ‘Grimsby Fish Near You’, an online resource enabling consumers to find their nearest mobile fishmonger. There is a fleet over 100 fish vans working out of Grimsby that have a broad reach in their deliveries, covering areas as far afield as the Cotswolds and London, as well as closer towns such as Harrogate and Leeds. All the mobile fishmongers follow a strict code of practice set by the Alliance, including hygiene, temperature and labelling.

“When the Covid pandemic started, business absolutely exploded for these vans and they worked around the clock to keep their customers supplied with high quality Grimsby fish,” said Simon.

Inevitably, business has now returned to pre-Covid levels, but the number of vans and their coverage highlights the importance of this sector.

While Lincolnshire does not have the same labour supply problems as encountered by the Scottish seafood sector, the Seafood Grimsby and Humber Alliance is supportive of industry campaigns in Scotland to achieve greater flexibility with Skilled Worker Visa requirements.

“We have a good relationship with the Scottish Seafood Association and Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, and we collaborate with them on many issues because all our activities are inter-linked. It is beneficial for us for there to be a thriving Scottish industry, and vice versa,” said Simon.

Recently, the seafood sector received a boost when ‘Grimsby’s Traditional Smoked Fish’, which showcases the ‘Made in Grimsby’ logo on its packaging became one of 37 Geographical Indicators (GIs) for UK food and drink in Japan, formally gaining protection and safeguarding against imitation or counterfeit products entering the lucrative Japanese marketplace. It also reinforces Grimsby’s brand recognition as a producer of high-quality seafood, further boosting its global reputation.

As with any industry sector, there are many challenges on the horizon, not least in meeting the UK’s Net Zero carbon targets, and the Alliance is working hard to deliver the required reductions. In January, the Alliance took a collaborative pioneering step towards seafood sustainability with the launch of the Seafish Industry Authority’s Carbon Emissions Profiling Tool. The tool calculates the carbon footprint of seafood capture, harvest and production, enabling informed investment decisions to drive the necessary supply chain transformation towards Net Zero.

The industry is also having to contend with recent inflationary impacts, including spiralling energy costs, and higher prices for food manufacture ingredients, packaging and a wide range of other items associated with fish processing.

Simon Dwyer said:

“Despite these factors that our outside our control, we are extremely aware of the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis on consumers and the affordability of fish. Innovation and new product development will be at the heart of many of the processing operations to help ensure our products are as affordable as possible.”