Scots seafood aims to reel in rising demand from Japan

Japan is one of the world's largest seafood markets and has a strong emphasis on quality. Picture: Jun Takagi.
Japan is one of the world's largest seafood markets and has a strong emphasis on quality. Picture: Jun Takagi.
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Exports of Scottish seafood to Japan increased more than four-fold last year, it has emerged ahead of a key trade visit to the Asian country later this week.

Seafood Scotland said exports to Japan – one of the world’s largest consumers of seafood – rose to more than 2,630 tonnes last year, up from about 600 in 2017.

It comes as a contingent of seafood companies prepares to head east for the Japan Seafood Expo 2019 running from 21 to 23 August inclusive, and with this year’s delegation said to be the largest representation yet.

The event will be attended by key global trade buyers from trading companies, wholesalers, distributors, retail and the restaurant trade, with the show expected to attract 35,000 visitors.

The Edinburgh-based trade body said the group of ten Scottish companies represents a “substantial proportion of Scotland’s catch”, showcasing the likes of Scottish smoked and fresh salmon, haddock, mackerel, herring, crab, lobster and langoustine.

Firms set to make an appearance include Hebridean Smokehouse and the Scottish Salmon Company – and two businesses, JPL Shellfish and Associated Seafoods are attending for the first time.

The latter specialises in smoked salmon and said it has invested significantly in its operations, and already supplies many top global retailers.

Commercial director Neil Greig said: “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.”

JPL Shellfish exports fresh Scottish fish and live shellfish across the world from Scrabster Harbour.

Sales manager John Paul Thomson commented: “We’re always looking to explore new business overseas and the show is an excellent opportunity to do just this.”

The Japan export support programme delivered by Seafood Scotland and Scottish Development International is described as having made “a significant” difference by educating trade buyers and maximising opportunities through trade engagement activities such as the Japan Seafood Expo.

Natalie Bell, head of trade marketing Asia, Europe and Middle East at Seafood Scotland, said that in Asia, and in particular Japan, demand for Scottish seafood is on the up, with high-quality, sustainable and traceable products being sought out.

“Our aim is to continue to help Scotland grow in Japan, and the Japan Seafood Show provides a fantastic platform for this. It offers our most ambitious exporters the opportunity to take advantage of and make the all-important connections with buyers across the region.”