Representatives from four of the UK’s leading fish and chip businesses have returned from an exclusive study trip to North East Scotland, as part of the 2017 National Fish & Chip Awards.
Organised by awards sponsor Seafood Scotland and funded by Connect Local, the trip gave the four businesses – finalists for the Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year Award* - a closer look at the inner workings of Europe’s whitefish capital.
As guests of Seafood Scotland, the finalists enjoyed a two-day trip to Peterhead and Aberdeen – home to Europe’s leading whitefish fishing port**, accounting for around 79% of all UK whitefish landings – to learn about the vital supply chain of haddock and cod for the fish frying industry and the wider UK food sector.
Marcus Coleman, Chief Executive at Seafish, comments: “Peterhead is one of the UK’s busiest fishing ports and is at the forefront of the Scottish fishing industry – with catches totalling 110,000 tonnes, worth £109m, landed at Peterhead in the first eight months of this year. Representing an increase of 28% in value and 14% in tonnage, which when combined with the 25 new boats on order, demonstrates the growth of the North East Scotland fishing industry.
“The focus of the trip was to highlight the wide range of seafood on offer, encouraging menu diversification and the use of different species in fish and chip shops across the UK. Crucially, the trip also emphasised the socio-economic importance of Peterhead port and the wider impact it has on the overall UK seafood industry.
“With fish provenance high on the agenda it’s important that our finalists have a strong understanding of responsible and traceable sourcing, and know exactly what it takes to get fresh fish from ‘sea to plate’. This study trip ticks all of those boxes and I can’t thank Seafood Scotland and Connect Local enough for their continued support.”
Starting the trip with an early morning visit to the lively fish market, the finalists explored the daily routine of Europe’s whitefish capital while also learning about the sustainable fisheries management practices followed by the Scottish fishing fleet – advancing their knowledge of the whole fishing and supply process.
With much of the UK’s primary processing of seafood located in the north east of Scotland, the finalists also visited the Colin Fraser Ltd and A G Duff and Partners Ltd processing units. The group observed first-hand how traditional skills are married together with modern technology and equipment, discovering how the future of the fish processing trade is evolving.
Clare Dean, Trade Marketing Manager at Seafood Scotland, added: “The North East whitefish sector has grown over time, creating a clever blend of production systems, offering high quality product from both hand-crafted and mass manufactured methods.
“Processors such as Colin Fraser Ltd highlight the strides taken by the industry. They have made consistent investments in staff training; retaining traditional, highly-skilled hand filleting, whilst embracing innovative technologies offered by state of the art equipment. The company is able to produce a highly graded, top quality, fresh, skinless and boneless fillet to match the increasingly specialised needs of today’s restaurants, chefs and consumers.
“The study trip was a great opportunity to highlight these elements and for the leading players from the fish and chip restaurant sector to see it first-hand. With recent record breaking landings into Peterhead market as well as news of 25 new boats on order for the catching sector, the finalists certainly witnessed a buoyant and growing industry.”
The National Fish & Chip Awards, organised by Seafish, are recognised as one of the most prominent and respected seafood industry events in the UK. Widely considered as the ‘Oscars’ of the fish frying industry, they celebrate the Great British tradition of fish and chips, recognising the best talent, quality and choice offered by fish and chip businesses through 13 different award categories.