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Strong Scottish turnout as world’s largest seafood showcase opens in Barcelona

The Scottish pavilion at Seafood Expo Global
The Scottish pavilion at Seafood Expo Global

Onwards and upwards summed up the mood of many Scottish suppliers as the world’s largest seafood trade show got under  way in Barcelona today.

The Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global event runs until Thursday.

It is being attended by more than 29,100 seafood buyers, suppliers, media and a variety of other professionals from in excess of 150 countries.

Among them is Natalie Bell, head of trade marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Asia at industry body Seafood Scotland, who said it was an ideal platform for forging new business contacts and reconnecting with existing customers after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There’s a real sense of excitement and the show is very busy, probably helped by the lifting of Covid restrictions.”

Natalie Bell, Seafood Scotland.

The show, normally held annually, has moved to the Catalan capital from Brussels.

Exhibitors part of a “Team Scotland” pavilion and others showcasing their products independently are in the city to sell their seafood to the world.

Financial impact

Ms Bell said: “We have is a really strong pavilion and even exhibitors from other countries have commented how good it is.

“These shows are always hugely successful and have a big financial impact on companies.

“We have 18 exhibitors on our pavilion, many others in the hall and I spoke to about 12 who are here just ‘walking the show’.

“There’s a real sense of excitement and the show is very busy, probably helped by the lifting of Covid restrictions.”

Scottish langoustines.

She added: “We’ve had buyers from Germany visiting our stand, looking at a broad range of seafood, and quite a lot of French interested in our scallops and langoustines.

“People have come here not just to do business in new markets but also to meet existing customers.

“It’s really good to see this level of engagement, as well as the volume of business that will be taking place over the next three days.”

Natalie Bell, of Seafood Scotland.

Everyone is now ready to “just get on and do” the job of selling their produce in the global marketplace after the disruption of Brexit and Covid, Ms Bell said, adding: “It’s very much onwards and upwards.”

Karl Simpson, director at Lerwick-based whole fish supplier Simpson Fish, said there was a feel-good factor about the show, adding: “It’s good to see the world getting back to normal.”

Anyone fancy a flambeed salmon burger from Finland? There are products from all over the world at Seafood Expo Global.

The Scottish pavilion is the result of a partnership between Seafood Scotland and Scottish Development International (SDI).

It is sandwiched between those of Catalonia and Norway in the exhibition hall, with all the major seafood nations represented across the huge venue.

Firms exhibiting their products within the pavilion include producers and processors of salmon, langoustine, crab and many more species.

Visitors this afternoon included rural affairs and islands cabinet secretary Mairi Gougeon, who said she had encountered lots of optimism despite ongoing challenges caused by Brexit.

Brexit woes ‘have not gone away’

Scottish seafood exports are growing again but still down on where they were before Brexit, with the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union having created major disruption for suppliers and challenges which “have not gone away”, Ms Gougeon said.

“Seafood firms have certainly not had their troubles to seek, she said, adding: “The thing that has struck me most about this show is the positivity I have seen  and how people are so happy about being able to meet face-to-face again.

“This is a massive opportunity to promote Scotland and its world-class seafood.

“Scotland’s seafood industry is a major success story, producing world-class, nutritious, low-carbon food that is enjoyed at home and abroad, with exports (last year)  increasing by £144 million, compared to 2020, and contributing £1.3 billion to the Scottish economy annually in GVA (gross value added).

Scottish seafood platter, with a loch in the background.

An economic impact study of the Scotland pavilion at the 2019 event estimated this country’s seafood sales would surge by £67.25m over the next three years.

While this target was pre-Covid, SDI trade officials are confident it can be matched as a result of Scotland’s participation in the 2022 expo.

Ewen Cameron, global head of trade, consumer industries, SDI, said: “Covid-19 and Brexit have undoubtedly presented challenges for seafood exporters, but the resilience these firms have shown has been inspiring.

“This week’s expo will allow Scotland’s seafood sector to return to the international stage and highlight that its world-class reputation for quality remains fully intact.”

30 years of Label Rouge

Salmon producers at the show are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Label Rouge accreditation, a legally defined sign of quality assurance in France.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of trade body Salmon Scotland, said: “For three decades, our farmers have worked hard to deliver the exceptional quality that meets the strictest standards required.”

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