Findus Group managing director Mark Escolme

The Findus Group recently announced the appointment of Mark Escolme as group managing director for its United Kingdom frozen businesses Young’s Seafood and Findus U.K.  Escolme is a consumer goods industry manager with 20 years’ experience working for major brands in the U.K. and overseas.

SeafoodSource spoke with Escolme as Young’s announced what it calls the “fast food breakthrough of the decade,”  the microwaveable Alaska pollock fillet fish finger.  

Holmyard:  What does your role at Findus involve? 
Escolme: My new role as managing director is to manage the continued growth of Findus Group’s two U.K. frozen businesses – Young’s Seafood and Findus U.K.  I’m really pleased to have such a great opportunity to work with two of the U.K.’s most energetic and innovative food brands. Young’s is Britain’s best-known and longest-established name in fish, while Findus is just entering an exciting new phase – it rejoined the Group in the spring after a number of years being operated by a separate company and is currently being re-launched with new products, new packaging and a strong marketing campaign.
 
What are current consumer attitudes to frozen vs. fresh seafood?
While fresh seafood — along with most chilled foods — has had a tougher time during the recession than frozen, fresh is holding its own and we have seen some growth again over the past three months.  However, frozen has prospered and the latest figures from [market research specialists] TNS suggest that there are now a million more new households buying frozen fish than two years ago. 

We are concentrating on ensuring that this trend toward frozen will be maintained in the long term and not just during the recession. We have a lot of great new ideas and products to make frozen fish even more convenient — like the new fish finger — and we’re confident that now people have found out how good frozen fish can be, they’ll keep coming back for more.
 
What is the line taken by Findus and Young's toward sustainable supply?
Sustainability has been a watchword for both the Young’s and Findus brands for many years. In fish, Young’s has long been a pioneer in responsible sourcing, as witnessed by its award-winning ‘Fish for Life’ programme and this now applies equally to all Findus Group companies. In other ingredients like vegetables, Findus has also driven some very important initiatives. For instance it has a sustainable agriculture programme in Scandinavia called “LISA” that dates back to the 1960s.

The Findus Group as a whole has a broad-ranging agenda in sustainability that extends not just to fish, but to sustainable sourcing for all ingredients. We also have a much broader ethical commitment that shapes our approach to issues such as good nutrition, social responsibility, waste reduction and energy use.
 
What seafood species do you source, and from where? 
Young’s and Findus use a wide range of wild and farmed seafood from all over the world and our seafood sourcing program is managed at the Group level. We prefer long-term relationships with suppliers that help to ensure they meet our high standards for responsible practice, product quality and ethical operation.

What are the most popular species/products across the brands?
The most popular species are cod, haddock, salmon and prawns and this has been the case for a long time.  However, pollock is also gaining in popularity, on the back of it being marketed increasingly for its omega-3 [fatty acid] content.

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