Outgoing Seafish CEO talks UK seafood campaigns, growing sales

Published on
June 8, 2015

U.K. seafood industry advocacy organization Seafish recently set forth an ambitious three-year Corporate Plan designed to boost seafood consumption and sales. The 2015-2018 Corporate Plan will also further enhance the brand reputation of fisherman, seafood processors and all others involved in the seafood industry.

SeafoodSource recently talked with Seafish Chief Executive Paul Williams, who announced he is leaving later this year, about the plan and his work with the organization.

Since this is a three-year plan, what are Seafish’s top priorities for 2015?

Our areas of work are threefold: to get more people eating more fish more often, promote and support a trusted and resilient industry and ensure the right information and data is available to the sector. Our consumer and promotion work is already under way, building on the success of our Fish is the Dish consumer brand. Our recent award-winning omega-3 health campaign is just one example of our work to increase consumption of seafood, reaching a widespread audience across digital and traditional media this year.

Our Sea You Home Safe campaign will continue into 2015/16, but it’s not just about showcasing a responsible industry. It’s a campaign that’s making a real difference in terms of changing behaviors and saving lives. The Fishermen’s Safety and Training program builds on those messages to raise safety awareness and promote safer working practices in what we know is one of the most dangerous occupations but essential to getting seafood from sea to plate for the consumer to enjoy.

We will also be launching the revised Responsible Fishing Scheme later this year and hosting the World Seafood Congress in Grimsby in September.

How will Seafood Week, 9-16 October, help increase sales and awareness?

Seafood Week has been run before in the U.K., but in 2015, the climate seems right to re-launch it to a wider audience. Times have changed and, with the advance of digital and social media, reaching our online audience will be key. We’ll be bringing real value to Seafood Week by providing support and resources to industry to help develop their own promotions and get more people buying seafood during the week and beyond. Seafood Week aims to capture the imagination of everyone along the supply chain and we’ll be engaging with retailers, foodservice and consumers to get people trying something new and buying and cooking seafood.

Which marketing and sales efforts will help suppliers directly grow sales of their products domestically and internationally?

Our National Fish and Chips Awards will continue for the 28th year, with more interest than ever in this part of the foodservice sector. Our new app has been launched, so that consumers can access their nearest award-winning fish and chip shop wherever they are in the U.K. We continue to be overwhelmed by the support and interest around fish and chips and they continue to be one of the nation’s favorite foods.

However, this is only one area where our marketing work is helping suppliers to grow sales. Our Export Support program will continue to provide up-to-date market data, including a revision and update of our popular export guide publications this year. We’ll also be working with key seafood exporting companies to deliver a program of events and international exhibitions to raise awareness of U.K. exporters, species and responsible industry. Many of these accounts are based in the Humberside region and we’re delighted that Seafish is hosting the World Seafood Congress this September in Grimsby. The event will see key players come together for five days, a unique opportunity for us in the U.K. to promote and support the seafood industry on a global stage.

How does Seafish aim to help fishermen, seafood processors and other industry companies enhance the sustainability and social responsibility of their products?

We’ve seen increased demand from the public and the supply chain for seafood that is both sustainably managed and ethically produced over the last few years. The RFS vessel accreditation scheme certifies high standards of crew welfare and responsible catching practices from sea to quayside. We’ve been delighted with the response by industry to RFS. Over the last six months, we’ve presented the scheme at an international level and it’s clear assurance of good practice at sea is something industry wants to see to benefit everyone, from fishermen to consumers.

However, it’s only one important element of our commitment to sustainability and social responsibility that carries right along the supply chain. RASS (Risk Assessment for Seafood Sourcing), our fisheries risk assessment tool, is another of our key programs in this area. Aimed at a range of commercial seafood buyers, it provides up-to-date information about fisheries’ stock levels and is providing users with the information to make an informed choice and decide if the risk for a particular species is acceptable to them.

What are your thoughts as you wrap up your tenure with Seafish?

I’ve taken this decision now as I feel the time is right for a change both personally and for Seafish. We’ve successfully delivered our previous Corporate Plan for 2012-2015, and we now have a new one in place that’s been developed with industry, for industry. I’m proud that we’ve built and will continue to build an organization that’s helped to bring about change and improvements along the supply chain. Seafish has a great team in place with in-house expertise at all levels and new recruits coming through. The seafood industry in the U.K. continues to grow and for all these reasons, I feel there has never been a better time for Seafish to play a key role at the heart of the seafood industry.

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