Cluster partnership generates increased demand for Welsh crab
A collaboration created by two seafood businesses during the COVID-19 lockdown has led to a surge in demand for Welsh crab from consumers in North Wales, in the United Kingdom.
Anglesey-based producer Môn Dressed Crab has joined forces with Llandudno-headquartered wholesaler and fishmonger Mermaid Seafoods to expand the home market for the shellfish. Both businesses are members of the Wales Seafood Cluster, a Cywain-led project that facilitates collaborative working among seafood companies.
“This collaboration between Môn Dressed Crab and Mermaid Seafoods is a great example of the Cluster working in practice, as by working together, they have expanded their customer base and proved that there is an increasing demand for Welsh crab and seafood,” North Wales Seafood Cluster Manager Nia Griffith said.
As a five-year-old small family business reliant on supplying local restaurants and eateries, the onset COVID-19 pandemic proved difficult to navigate, according to founder Tracey Hodson, as the restaurant and eatery trade dried up overnight due to U.K. lockdown rules.
Hodson buys crabs from local fishermen and processes them at a facility in Church Bay. While sales to existing fishmonger clients continued during the lockdown, she sought other outlets and began selling direct to the public. This led to the collaboration with Mermaid Seafoods.
“It’s great, Mermaid takes crab off me every week. It’s carried on steadily throughout the winter, too, which as a small company isn’t usually such a good time for us, so working with Mermaid has really been a great help,” Hodson said. “The cluster is always there if I need anything, any advice or help. They are always in touch and particularly so throughout the whole pandemic.”
Mermaid Seafoods Manager Sonya Jones said working with Môn Dressed Crab has benefitted both businesses, as demand has steadily grown for local crab.
“Tracey got in touch with us at the start of lockdown. We started selling her local crab, and sales increased week-on-week. It has been fantastic; The crab is very popular. I think people prefer having local crab, and when I put it on Facebook that we have had a delivery, we sell out,” Jones said. “I think we have gained customers because of Môn Dressed Crab, some of whom have then gone on to buy other fish and seafood, too.”
One of the aims of the Seafood Cluster is to bring together fishermen, fishmongers, and aquaculture businesses that have an ambition to grow. The cluster also provides support for businesses through training, and attending trade events. This is in addition to access to tailored one-to-one support.
Griffith said that the past year had been “particularly tough” for fishermen and smaller producers, but that many have adapted the way they operate, and have been innovative in their marketing.
“We hope this enterprising spirit will continue to reap additional benefits,” she said.
Photo courtesy of Mermaid Seafoods and Môn Dressed Crab