The challenges of the past four months have noticeably shifted the Scottish seafood market, according to trade organisation Seafood Scotland.
With the Covid-19 pandemic creating a virtual standstill of export opportunities, many companies have turned to the domestic market, which usually accounts for just 20% of trade. Many seafood businesses have successfully executed rapid change, not enough to replace lost income, but enough to keep their operations open alongside government support.
Natalie Bell, head of trade marketing for Europe, Middle East and Asia at Seafood Scotland, said that the market profile had changed considerably. “UK consumers are demanding more of their own seafood, as opposed to the 60% that is normally imported from places like Norway,” she said. “Buying decisions are being driven by purpose, and ‘buy local’ is top of both consumer and food service consciousness, so the demand for more is likely to continue.”
Continuing uncertainties around Brexit are on the minds of businesses. “We are receiving a greater volume of enquiries from Scottish companies looking to widen their export base. Those that traditionally stuck to the key European markets are now extremely interested in sending their produce further afield to places such as Singapore, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia,” added Ms Bell.
Key non-EU markets for Scottish seafood are the Middle East, USA, and Asia, particularly China, Japan and Singapore which are some of the world’s largest consumers of seafood.