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Great response at Euro fish show

UK - Seafood companies from Shetland have had a successful few days at the world's largest seafood exhibition.

Great response at Euro fish show - UK - Seafood companies from Shetland have had a successful few days at the world's largest seafood exhibition.

Representatives from Shetland Catch, Shetland Smokehouse, Hjaltland Seafarms/Lerwick Fish Traders/Shetland Products, Shetland Aquaculture and Seafood Shetland all travelled to Brussels for the European Seafood Exposition, last week. The annual event is being described as the most important in the isles' seafood sector's marketing calendar. Managing director of organic cod farming business Johnson Seafarms, Karol Rzepkowski, said he was amazed to learn that the industry across Europe was well aware of the developments at the company.

"We were absolutely staggered by the level of interest in the product, not just from UK buyers. The level of awareness of the product as well as the interest in it from overseas buyers really took us aback. "People from across the world said they had heard about it, which just highlights how high profile the product has become."

He added that the company's organic farmed cod fillets - processed in Scalloway - will be launched nationwide at Tesco's on 29 May. Other major supermarkets are expected to follow. Martin Leyland, of Shetland Seafood Auctions, said his company had not been exhibiting at the exposition, but to meet with buyers and to promote the new online auction they are setting up.

"The reason for going to Brussels for us was really to be in an environment where we have all the seafood buyers under one roof, particularly as the part of the business we are trying to advance is a pilot project to launch selling farmed seafood online in an internet bidding system." Shetland's electronic whitefish auction and the information buyers can access online - up to 24 hours in advance of landings - was causing a great deal of envy among other auctions, and the online farmed fish auction would ensure Shetland stays ahead of the game, he said.

"The main thing I have to do now is to get the buyers to come on and register with the site. We need at least five to 10 decent commercial buyers so we have a competitive bidding system," Mr Leyland said. "I was also able to meet with companies and individuals who gave me ideas and information which will enable us to move effectively and smoothly from a pilot project to a commercial project."

Mr Leyland said from his observations all the Shetland exhibitors had a very busy week. "The main feeling that everyone seemed to get was that salmon prices have never been so high, which is good for the producers, but not so great for the processors. There was also some talk of developments within the pelagic sector." Shetland Catch and Shetland Smokehouse shared a stand which had nearly 130 square metres of floor area with meeting rooms and a hospitality area.

Shetland Catch's marketing executive Shona Manson said the event was extremely worthwhile as it brings together the world's seafood industry under one roof and is therefore the ideal forum from which they can successfully conduct business with new and existing customers. She said 90 per cent of their customers and suppliers attend the event and speaking face-to-face with them is an excellent opportunity.

Operations manager Norma Williamson represented Shetland Smokehouse on their shared stand. They offered tastings throughout the show and guests were also invited to a reception to sample a selection of canaps prepared using Shetland Smokehouse products.

TheFishSite News Desk - 30th March 2006