Scottish Seas, a Boston success story, puts fishermen at the helm
Scottish Seas, a newly formed cooperative of Scottish fishermen, is a story of how unique partnerships can be formed out of a chance trade show meeting.
The cooperative, comprised of three regional fish producers’ organizations - Aberdeeen FPO, Orkney FPO and the West of Scotland FPO - was created after its founders met at the 2016 Seafood Expo North America / Seafood Processing North America event in Boston, according to Polly Legendre, who is assisting the co-op with marketing.
“The way this happened, is that we met at the seafood show [Seafood Expo North America] in 2016,” she said. “This is a seafood show success story. Scotland had a chef demo and cocktail party event, and we started talking to the fishermen…about their values and respecting their communities, who they were, and that there was actually a receptive audience within the United States. So they won’t home and thought about it, and between late March and 1 November, 2016, they formed the cooperative.”
As of late March 2017, the cooperative included 60-plus vessels and more than 200 fishermen. Legendre, who has been working with the co-op to formulate its branding image, noted that the seafood being produced has been caught by the same families and countrymen and women for generations – what’s new is the “almost deceptively simple” approach being taken by constructing the co-op.
“Nothing that they fish for is new – they’ve been doing it for generations – but three ports have banded together as a cooperative to create one brand in order to work together,” Legendre said. “Scottish Seas [fishers] are super-proud of their regions, but that’s not impeding them from working together."
Among the product available to source from Scottish Seas is hake, monkfish, langostino/nephrops, whiting, megrim, plaice, scallops, haddock, saithe/Atlantic pollock and Atlantic cod. The cooperative’s haddock and Atlantic pollock are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified, with Atlantic cod from Scottish waters expected to achieve MSC approval at some point this spring.
“Our stocks are carefully managed, many through international certifications like MSC,” explained the cooperative. “Orders for fresh, frozen and value-added Scottish Seas products are available in most markets.”
The cooperative works with processors, retailers and foodservice partners to develop customized, co-branded and white-label products tailored for specific markets around the globe – and it places its fishermen first, Legendre said.
“What’s interesting is it’s the fishermen who make up the co-op, not the processors,” said Legendre. “If you’re a foodservice company and you have an executive chef and you want this particular spec, it’s the two ends that get to decide.”
The 2017 edition of Seafood Expo North America was the first attended by Scottish Seas as its own entity, with skippers perusing the aisles and looking to make potential partnerships. With a presence at the upcoming Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium, taking place 25 to 27 April, the cooperative will be doing the same, based out of booth No. 9-4217.