After spending time in the blockchain world, Sean Dennis decided to co-found Seafood Souq, a new kind of platform in Dubai to bridge the gap between international suppliers and local buyers and distributors in the region.

"International traders are not getting the full market view, which is why Seafood Souq thought of a better way to sell and buy the fish in a similar way like any e-commerce site would -- this just simplifies the seafood sale process," Dennis told IntraFish.

The B-2-B e-commerce platform is in-line with the United Arab Emirates government's focus on food security.

Seafood Souq launched during the summer of 2019 with the help of co-founder and Emirati businessman Sheikh Fahim al Qasimi.

However, Seafood Souq is already planning to expand into the Gulf region later this year. The startup is currently trading between 20 and 40 metric tons of seafood per month.

"After getting up to speed, we would want to spread the plan into other regions within the Gulf," he said.

The trading platform was set up to start with high-demand species, including salmon, seabass, seabream, among others.

However, as the company fulfills the volume and scale needed, it will begin venturing into other species such as langostines, which are difficult to get in Dubai.

"The just-in-time business model will help Seafood Souq broaden its range of products since buyers can purchase direct orders without having to rely on product offerings that are simply available in-country," Dennis said.

In September, Emirates airlines' SkyCargo division teamed up with Seafood Souq to transport seafood, starting with a shipment of Scottish salmon from Glasgow airport.

The partnership is focused on delivering fresh seafood from suppliers in Norway, Cyprus, Chile, the United States, Turkey and Scotland to customers in the UAE and the Middle East, although the startup plans to use Emirates SkyCargo's global network to reach a global clientele.

Transparency is a value

Seafood Souq has complete oversight of the entire value chain, since orders are made directly through the platform, which creates a fully transparent supply chain with zero extra cost.

"The just-in-time concept ensures that all products are fresh since items will not enter the country unless they were directly ordered by customers," Dennis said.

The platform also allows end-consumers to learn about the supplier and its sourcing methods. For example, often when you visit a restaurant, the best information you're likely to get when ordering salmon is which country it is from. This is because it has been highly commoditized because of the lack of transparency across the supply chain.

"Suppliers are given a profile page on Seafood Souq to build trust and confidence with its customers and to communicate their message and the practices they employ," Dennis said.

Dubai-based smoke house and restaurant Salmontini is looking into adding QR codes on its products to tell its story and shout out about its production and processing.

Is blockchain an option?

Since Dennis has a long history in blockchain, you'd think he'd employ the skills within his platform, but he's taking it one step at a time.

"We are not currently using blockchain for SFS Trace," Dennis said. "We will employ its use when the time comes."

The company is already in dialogue with IBM Food Trust for the possibility to join its services in the future.

"You typically use blockchain to infuse trust, but in the meantime we are able to act as a trust catalyzer," Dennis said.