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Salmon skin snacks: Novelty or new sensation?

Developers of the 'love it or hate it' product see opportunities beyond the UK shores, founder tells IntraFish.

Sea Chips, a new brand of crisps made from salmon skin, just landed a listing in the UK with its first major retailer, Sainsbury’s, but the company's ambitions already extend to the US and beyond.

Fish skin crisps have found success in Asian countries but remain a new product in the snack category in the UK market, company founder Dan Pawson told IntraFish.

While there's a ready-made Asian consumer market in the UK to tap in to, Pawson sees the product as having an opening with health-conscious consumers looking for an alternative to less healthy snacks.

Sea Chips is mainly backed by Jonathan Brown, creator of MacKnight Foods, whose US assets were sold to Colorado-based salmon smoker Honey Smoked Fish Co. earlier this year.

A single pack contains 20 grams of salmon skin, roughly a quarter of the skin provided by one fish. Sea Chips processes approximately 200 kilos of salmon skin a day, Pawson said.

To burning its eco-friendly credentials, the company sources from variety of suppliers of Atlantic salmon certified sustainable by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

“Our main focus is on reducing the amount that’s going to waste and provide a high-protein crisp, as long as we can get it from a responsibly sourced farm,” Pawson said. The sourcing of the product is primarily handled by Brown.

The company expects to announce several other new retail listings in the near future, and hopes to enter the US market in 2020, Pawson said.

The product is currently processed in the company's production facility in Cumbria, although expansion to the US market may involve acquiring a US-based facility.

Being the first to establish a factory has provided a strong advantage, despite traditional brands trying to move into their category, Pawson said.

“We are challenging those old-school brands, like the jerky products and the pork scratchings," Pawson said.

The company plans to incorporate a "love it or hate it" quality into the branding strategy for the product.

"Pork scratchings, or pork rinds as they are known in the US market, are another snack people either love or hate, but they have a very targeted market. Our product is similar," Pawson said.

Although too early to announce retailers, the company is also aiming to expand to either the German or French market, targeting a major health food retailer and several big supermarkets.

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