A delegation of buyers from Thailand visited Peterhead and Grimsby at the end of October as part of a trip designed to boost exports of UK seafood.

They were shown around Peterhead fishmarket before meeting with different vendors and attending a lunch with key seafood industry representatives, including Scottish Seafood Association CEO Jimmy Buchan.

The Thai buyers met with Jimmy Buchan and the team at the Scottish Seafood Association during their visit to Peterhead.

They then visited Loch Fyne, where they met with Bakkafrost Scotland, before heading to Grimsby, where they met with local stakeholders and visited an artisanal smoking house.

The visit, organised by the Department of International Trade, was delivered through the UK government’s £1m Seafood Export Package, which aims to target growing overseas markets and provide new export opportunities for the UK seafood sector.

The funding is being used to identify new overseas buyers and connect them with UK seafood companies, while also promoting UK seafood at international events.

The programme has also recruited UK seafood industry specialist Julie Waites, whose role will be to help to connect businesses to boost seafood exports.

Jimmy Buchan told Fishing News: “We did our best to facilitate the Thai delegation and give them an insight into the local supply chain.

“It was enlightening to see there was a demand for Scottish seafood products. Some of them are already dealing with Scottish businesses – they knew the products well and spoke about them with high esteem.

“We told them what is happening in our waters, about sustainability, the challenges of labour and production – and we told them all these problems could be sorted out.

“We need to keep the supply chain going, and always be looking for new markets. Everyone has been held back by Brexit, and this was a timely opportunity for the UK government to introduce some Thai importers to our producers – they appeared to be serious buyers.

“They were certainly interested in shellfish, and it looked like they had been dealing with some of the pelagic factories as well, so they are probably looking at both high-end and volume sales.

“We have been struggling with Brexit, and it’s good there are new opportunities and that the government is at least trying to wedge open these doors.”

Rachel Gwyon, director of agriculture, food and drink at the Department for International Trade, said: “Visits such as this are part of our continuing push to identify companies from around the world that are interested in our seafood and connect them with suppliers here in the UK.

“By visiting the great businesses we have operating in Scotland and in Grimsby, we can show potential buyers first-hand the brilliant produce we have to offer.

“Thailand is just one of many overseas markets that could provide new export opportunities, and the Department for International Trade will continue to do all we can to promote our seafood produce to them.”

The group of buyers were from Thai company Indoguna Thailand, which imports and distributes fresh seafood products out of its base in Bangkok.

The company was identified by the Department of International Trade, which then arranged the visit to connect them with UK seafood companies.

Managing director at Indoguna Thailand Mark Cawley said after the visit: “I’ve been looking at UK seafood for a couple of years, and I love the product, with its quality and fantastic story behind it.

“I hope to be able to explore possibilities about getting UK seafood into Thailand. The demand for the product is there, and my company focuses on high-quality premium in ingredients, which is exactly what Scotland and the UK offer.”

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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