Scottish seafood exporters target further Japanese growth after successful 2018

Published on
August 22, 2019

Exports of Scottish seafood to Japan increased fourfold last year, according to new trade figures compiled ahead of a key trade visit to the Asian country. 

Industry body Seafood Scotland said that Japan sourced more than 2,630 metric tons (MT) of Scottish fisheries and aquaculture products in 2018, up from 598 MT in the previous year.

A group of 10 seafood companies from Scotland are attending the Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo 2019, taking place in Tokyo on 21 to 23 August. This is the country’s largest seafood delegation to make the journey east to take part in the event, which is this year expecting around 35,000 visitors.

JPL Shellfish, which is one of two companies taking part in the visit for the first time, exports fresh Scottish fish and live shellfish across the world from its premises at Scrabster Harbour.

“Scottish fish and shellfish [are] renowned as some of the best in the world for both quality and flavor, with many trade buyers now applying a greater emphasis on locally sourced, top quality produce,” John Paul Thompson, sales manager for JPL Shellfish, said. “We source a wide range of our seafood from local boats or direct from fishermen all over the far north of Scotland. All our shellfish is caught using sustainable methods which help maintain a healthy marine environment. These are key attributes sought out by buyers in Japan which stand us in good stead for this market. We’re always looking to explore new business overseas and the show is an excellent opportunity to do just this.”

The other Scottish debutant is smoked salmon producer Associated Seafoods. The company’s commercial director, Neil Greig, explained that Japan offers a new and exciting opportunity for the business. 

“We know the Japanese consumer values high quality seafood and we believe our authentic, premium Scottish smoked salmon is ideally placed to be well received by arguably the world’s most discerning seafood consumer,” Greig said.

Scottish chef Scott Lyall has also joined the delegation to showcase the versatility of Scottish products, including their application in traditional Japanese cuisine.

In addition to attending the expo, the Scottish contingent is hosting a “Taste of Scotland” seafood reception at the Ambassador’s Residence in the British Embassy.

“Asia, and in particular Japan, is one of the largest consumers of seafood in the world. Their desire for Scottish seafood is on the increase, mirroring their appetite for high quality, sustainable and traceable products,” said Natalie Bell, head of trade marketing Asia, Europe and Middle East at Seafood Scotland. “The Japanese culture values prestige, reputation and respect above all else, with consumers aligning themselves with products and organizations that embody these values – the Scottish seafood story is the perfect fit.”

The other Scottish companies attending the expo are Hebridean Smokehouse, Denholm Seafoods, Lunar, Scottish Salmon Company, the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation, The Crab Company Scotland, Northbay Pelagic and Mowi.

Salmon is Scotland’s top seafood export. Recently published figures by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirmed that overseas sales of this fish increased 25 percent in the first-half of this year to 47,000 metric tons (MT) valued at GBP 319 million (USD 386.6 million, EUR 348.8 million).

Photo courtesy of Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

 Twitter at @SeafoodGuruSome

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