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Humber Seafood Summit 2017: How do we sell more fish?

IntraFish was in Cleethorpes, UK, covering the 7th edition of SeaFish's Humber Seafood Summit. Check out our blog from the event.

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 3.00 pm GMT

Are we doing enough against seafood fraud?

A total of 11 seafood fraud common practices were listed at today’s Humber Seafood Summit, some of them being financial fraud, but many of them also breaking into the health and safety violation sphere.

Food fraud has been present since the industrialization of the food industry, but continues to be detrimental for businesses and for consumers nowadays.

Driven in some occasions by plain lucrative reasons, and in other by market pressures, some kinds of fraud are being reduced by traceability improvements, but some others continue to be hard to tackle.

Species substitution; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) catch inclusion; chain of custody abuse; and species adulteration are the hardest to identify.

Some other practices, such as undeclared product extension -- by which processors add water to the fish increasing its weight between 10 and 20 percent -- is commonly used and accepted.

“In some cases, in a pack with only fish fillets, there is 60 percent of fish, and 40 percent is water, but consumers pay the full 100 percent as fish,” said Michael Mitchell, from Fair Seas Limited.

Currently, there are better scanning systems to monitor practices and prevent fraud such as the Seafish Horizon Scanning Initiative, but widespread practices continue to be in the way of sorting the problem.

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2.10 pm GMT

Things are changing on the human rights front

Historically overlooked for many reasons -- unawareness, inability to fight it, or lack of effective measuring tools to determine the actual problem are just some of them – modern slavery is now top priority to all industries.

However, the is higher in some sectors than others, and the complex fishing industry is on a high alert due to its complexity.

“We need to be aware that there is as much risk here as there is in Thailand of contributing to modern slavery” said Steve Gibbons, director at Ergon.

It has taken important changes on three key areas to get where we are: guidelines and framework, legislation, and benchmark and scrutiny.

Some game changers have included the implementation of the UK National Action Plan on business and human rights, the EU Directive on Non-Financial reporting, and the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015.

In hindsight, tragic consequences of human right violations could have been avoided, and the victims cannot be forgotten, Gibbons said.

Now there is a responsibility that companies do as much as they can to avoid slavery in their supply chain.

“There is more money to be made in people trafficking in the food industry than in drugs or gun trafficking, and it’s easier to get away with.”

Projects such as the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Human Rights due diligence framework, help companies on how to assess the risk, identify responsibility, mitigate risk and improve the situation.

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 1.20 pm GMT

Securing supply is essential for Grimsby

In mainland UK, not one person is more than 10 minutes away from Grimsby-processed fish, said Simon Dwyer, director of SeaFox.

The GG stamp has a huge presence, Grimsby is indeed a well-defined international cluster, and with over 150 owner-ran business and some international companies reaching out to more overseas markets the importance of the UK’s seafood trade hub is undeniable.

Processors Young’s and Icelandic Seachill are opening markets in the United States, Australia and Japan, but there is a big challenge ahead of Brexit.

“We need to secure supply, if we haven’t got supply, we haven’t got an industry,” said Dwyer.

The UK access to labor is threatened, Grimsby could be looking to replace some 1,000 employees, or 18 percent of its workforce after Brexit; and the current frictionless borders are also at risk of disappearing.

In the past, the United Kingdom has had tremendous access to EU fisheries funding, too, something essential for the growth of the industry, said Dwyer.

“We are being pro-active, we’re working to get our message out there,” Dwyer said.

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 12.22 pm GMT

Brexit figures: everyone would notice a cut in EU labor

Around 66 percent of UK seafood processing plants rely on the EU workforce.

A survey conducted by Seafish of 109 companies covering 118 processing sites in the country revealed 42 percent of labor in the seafood industry comes from EU member states.

Of this total, 86 percent were permanent workers, “it is an interesting fact that most people are not coming and going through agencies, but have instead permanent positions,” said Hazel Curtis, Seafish Chief Economist.

The highest reliance on EU labor is on big sites employing more than 100 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) workers, where the EU workforce accounts for 45 percent.

At small sites -- with between 1 and 10 FTE workers -- the EU presence in the workforce is 21 percent.

“People always say economics is about money, but I insist, it is about people,” Curtis said.

In the UK, the use of EU labor also depends on the region. In Humberside, for example, the EU workforce accounts for 18 percent of the labor.

“Even in sites where the EU workforce is not that high, the gap would be noticeable if those people were not there.”

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 10.57 am GMT

People won’t do what you tell them

The recommendation of eating fish twice a week is a big ask, and the message behind it might not be having the effect the industry wants.

“People will only eat more fish if they wish they were eating more fish,” said said Zoe Healey, head of scientific strategy for Europe at InVentive Health.

“Instead of telling people to ‘eat fish twice a week,’ the industry should be focusing more on tuning the message to what people want to hear.”

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 10.46 am GMT

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter... it's not all the same!

The seafood industry has a mission: to communicate the benefits of its product and turn it into interest from consumers, and eventually into purchases.

But to do that, a not-very-attractive message is also needed: the scientific findings on the health benefits of eating seafood.

“We have on one side the desire of transparency, and on the other the mistrust in science,” said Zoe Healey, head of scientific strategy for Europe at InVentive Health.

In this sense, it is crucial to be able to send across the right message on social media, by being able to read information on these channels.

“If you’re on Instagram, you’ll see users are interested in recipes, but if you’re on Facebook, posts are more about having fun while eating,” said Healey.

“It is important to see what channels are right for the different topics.”

But, can we use social media to change consumption behavior?

Perhaps, she said. “People are more likely to doing something if they see others are doing it, and they are also more likely to act if they commit publicly to doing it.”

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 10.28 am GMT

It's all about the wellness

There is a huge, untapped opportunity in the seafood segment, said Claire Nuttal, founder of The Brand Incubator.

The industry has the responsibility to justify the premium, to explain why it is worth paying an extra pound for fish -- a task that isn’t easy.

Increasingly, people want to eat healthy food, but the omegas are not the only benefit of seafood.

“Find some new news,” Nuttal urged her audience. “There is so much people don’t mention about fish.”

Fish is a delicious protein that has the right protein, and rather than getting people to eat bigger portions, the industry should make it easy for consumers to eat fish in yummy, tasty dishes.

There is a very big opportunity in offering smaller portions that provide the necessary nutrients at an affordable price, too.

“It is about giving people convenient products, it’s about cooking in the right way, preserving the nutrients, and getting our body to use these nutrients in the right way too,” Nuttal said.

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 10.12 am GMT

Key new concepts: ‘Mix & match’ and ‘messy being fun’

The ‘messy being fun’ concept in the sale of shellfish products is an interesting way of increasing opportunities, said Jack MacIntyre, lead analyst at Global Data.

It is important to experiment with new trends highlighting the benefits of the product and offering new ways of consuming.

The offer of smaller portions, the “mix and match” range, and the customization of dishes are also key concepts to how adapt to new trends increase trends and generate loyalty.

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 9.31 am GMT

Dealing with the shopper, the consumer and the evil of big retailers

There’s too many factors to increasing consumption of a product, but certainly all of them can give sellers a strong idea of how to target their potential public.

The task the seafood industry has is to increase the product's penetration in the market, that's to say, get more people to consume fish; increase frequency of the shopper buying seafood when they shop; and increase the weight of purchase by upselling valuable species.

The current "misery index" concerning of UK shoppers, which is calculated based on things like unemployment and inflation, is currently at of 7.3, according to Haver Analyst figures.

This index is quite low, only behind Norway, China and Denmark, and much lower than in Sweden, Russia, Belgium or Spain, the latter has a misery mark of 18.9.

Consumer confidence is also quite low, there is, according to Jonathan Banks, from Jonathan Banks Associates, always an argument backing the belief that the big retailers are evil, but although retailers like Aldi or Lidl are increasing their market share every year, the general trend is to buy seafood in the big four: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons.

To increase consumption, it is important to use the opportunities of having an expandable consumption product, one that can be used in more occasions, and that can attract new consumers, Banks said.

In general, the current trend is positive, with shopper behavior changing favorably towards the seafood industry, particularly in the chilled and smoked fish categories.

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 8.30 am GMT

How do we drive up consumption?

This year's theme at the Humber Seafood Summit is supply and demand. On the first round of talks, speakers will highlight the importance of getting the message right and addressing our target.

Studies on the shopper, who makes the final decision on purchases, show the industry's flaws in its strategy of communication.

The wrong, message, the wrong channel or simply a lack of documentation and knowledge on consumption trends can mean the stagnation of the market, while the right strategy would not only raise awareness, but prompt action and drive up sales.

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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 8.00 am GMT

Welcome to Cleethorpes

Major seafood industry players from different sectors are gathering this year in Cleethorpes, near Grimsby in the UK, to discuss the current situation of the markets, as the Humber Seafood Summit agenda focuses on supply and demand.

Once again, for the second year in a row, Brexit will be central to the talks.

Throughout the day, delegates will discuss the current situation regarding sourcing, market conditions, as well as the outlook for harvesters, processors, traders, suppliers and final consumers.

Patrick Salmon, owner of Grimsby-based haddock smokehouse Alfred Enderby, and representative of the Grimsby Traditional Fish Smokers Group told IntraFish Brexit is still a central topic . Consequences could be "horrible" if the talks don't go the way they should.

"The most crucial part of our business is the supply of fish, there is something worse than having expensive fish, and that is having no fish at all," Salmon said.

"It is important that we are able to keep trading with other countries," he said, pointing out that the fish he buys is Icelandic.

Regarding Grimsby's smoked fish Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Salmon is confident both EU countries and the United Kingdom have similar interests to keep the protection of their products in each other's markets.

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