A Fife firm is aiming to double sales over the next two years as it rolls out a shellfish storage system that it believes will revolutionise the fishing industry.
Family-owned Todd Fish Tech, which is based in Dalgety Bay, has patented its Lobster Pod product, which is said to increase the survival rate of landed lobsters, crab and langoustine from one or two days to up to six months.
Instead of storing the shellfish in polystyrene trays or heavy tanks of water, they are held in individual plastic palettes with chilled and filtered water. These reduce stress and damage and help keep the creatures healthy.
To transport the shellfish, the water is drained and replaced with a patented misting system. In tests, this system has increased the survival rate of shellfish during transit to over 99 per cent from an industry average of 85 per cent, the firm said.
The global market for lobster, crab, prawns, scallop and other shellfish species is estimated to be worth more than $40 billion (£30bn) and growing.
Todd Fish Tech expects to double sales this year from £250,000 to £500,000 and is targeting £1 million by 2020 and to start exporting to North America and Canada – where the shellfish market is more than ten times the size of Britain’s.
Chief executive Errin Todd, who runs the business with her husband Keith, a marine biologist, said: “Most seafood is transported by road haulage and for every lorry load of lobster, there’s a 15 per cent mortality rate.
“That equates to £12,000 of shellfish. It’s not good for sustainability, it’s not good for the lobster and it’s not good for the reputation of Scotland.
“Fishermen aren’t paid for dead lobster, so it’s very wasteful. Things haven’t evolved since 1970 when Britain started exporting shellfish. So we looked at the design of the current method and decided to make the Lobster Pod.”
The couple assemble the lobster pods in-house and run the business with fish tech engineer Laura Johnson, a marine biology graduate from the University of Glasgow.
The firm believes that more shellfish could be sold locally in Scotland, instead of fresh catches being immediately exported.
Todd said: “Eighty five per cent of Scottish shellfish is exported to Europe, where it is prized for its great quality.
“Because it can’t be kept alive, it needs to enter the supply chain quickly, and it sometimes goes through five or eight steps before it reaches the consumer’s plate.
“With our system, there’s more incentive for fishermen to supply local restaurants, tourists and the public because a shorter supply chain means a higher price for the fisherman. That means we can eat more shellfish here in the UK.”
The company’s other products include lobster hatcheries that increase the survival rate of baby lobsters 100,000-fold – from one in 10,000 to 11 in every 100.