Victoria Island Smokehouse working to expand its reach in Southeast Asia
Victoria Island Smokehouse, a U.K.-based company specializing in smoked salmon, is working to build upon its success in the Hong Kong market at countries throughout Southeast Asia.
Victoria Island Smokehouse Founder Cristian Giancaterino told SeafoodSource during Seafood Expo Global – running from 11 to 13 September in Singapore –he founded the company six years ago after a long period working in distribution. Originally founded in Hong Kong, he moved its headquarters to the Dartford, Kent, U.K. six months ago.
“We decided to be closer to the source, not only the Scottish salmon, but some Norwegian salmon as well,” he said.
Giancaterino founded the business after working a distributor of similar products.
“I was selling quite a bit of salmon from the U.K.,” he said. “I said, ‘I can do something that I can believe in, better than what I am buying now.’”
Giancaterino said he was motifvated by wanting to be involved in a lasting business.
“I told myself, ‘Distribution will always be buy and sell buy and sell. You’ll never be able to build something that will stand on its own,” Giancaterino said.
When he first founded the business, the market for smoked salmon in Asia was relatively small, with fresh and raw salmon dominating the category.
“If you look at China five, six, seven years ago, it’s only fresh,” he said. “Now, China is producing smoked salmon.”
Victoria Island Smokehouse has developed multiple smoked salmon product lines with Asian tastes in mind. Using pieces of salmon from different parts of the fillet – such as the belly versus the tail – helps the company cater its flavors to be more palatable to Asian palates.
The company also uses three different types of wood – oak, beach, and apple – rather than just the oak many smoked salmon producers use, giving its fish a milder, sweeter flavor with less heavy smoky and salty notes.
Victoria Island Smokehouse' Pure Prestige Scottish Smoked Salmon made a noteworthy enough debut as the expo that it managed to net second place in the inaugural Seafood Excellence Asia awards.
Giancaterino said Hong Kong is by far the firm's largest market, but that he hopes to expand into Southeast Asia, and Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand in particular.
“I’m sure once we step inside other countries, we can have the same success we’ve had in Hong Kong,” Giancaterino said. “Vietnam is also coming up in my point of view, because I’ve seen a lot of interest from Vietnam.”
Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource