The exclusive trip, organised by awards sponsor Seafood Scotland and funded by The Scottish Seafood Partnership, saw representatives from finalist businesses make the trip to Peterhead and Aberdeen from around the country:
Best Newcomer Award
Best Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year Award
As guests of Seafood Scotland, the finalists enjoyed a two day trip to North East Scotland - a key area within the UK for the landing and processing of whitefish species, accounting for around 79% of all UK whitefish landings.
“During the trip, attendees had the opportunity to learn about the supply channels for haddock and cod from Scotland to the rest of the UK and further afield, gaining insight into North East Scotland’s key role within the UK fishing industry for the landing and processing of major whitefish species,” explained Andy Gray, Trade Marketing Manager of Seafish.
“At a special networking evening, they were treated to personal accounts from local fishing vessel skippers who gave insights into their life at sea, the perils they face and top tips for the perfect catch.”
During an early morning visit to Peterhead Fish Market, group members experienced first-hand the lively market atmosphere and gained valuable knowledge from Alan Stewart of Downies of Whitehills and Mark Stephen of Mark Taylor who explained in-depth how fish is bought and sold at auction.
With much of the UK’s primary processing of seafood being focussed in the Grampian area, the finalists also visited the Sustainable Seafoods Limited and Nolan Seafoods processing units to witness the highly skilled and flexible production capacity of two leading companies. The group observed how traditional skills are used cohesively with modern technology and equipment to ensure that fish is supplied on a daily basis to wholesale, foodservice and retail markets.
Natalie Bell, Trade Marketing Manager of Seafood Scotland, said: “In 2014, over 94,000 tonnes of whitefish was landed in Scotland by UK vessels which generated a value of £152 million. As the Scottish whitefish landings account for around 79% of all UK whitefish landings, we cannot stress enough the important role Scotland plays in the distribution of fish across the UK and further afield.
“Scottish cod has a high reputation, renowned taste and texture. With improving stocks and supplies due to responsible operation and sustainable management, the industry in Scotland is in good health and its great being able to share this experience with the finalists at such a poignant time.
“We have received very positive feedback from the finalists who travelled the length and breadth of the country to be with us on this trip. They have gained a valuable insight from speaking with a variety of industry experts and local skippers, getting a personal account of how the industry operates effectively and efficiently every day. It’s fantastic that we are in a position to offer these educational study trips and it’s a pleasure seeing how much the finalists enjoy the experience.”
Mel Groundsell, Corporate Relations Director of Seafish, commented: “Renowned as the whitefish capital of Europe, experiencing Peterhead is a must for any fish frier. To be taken through the entire process - from catch to distribution - by leading experts, is a great opportunity for anyone with a passion for the industry.
“Most fish and chip shop owners will be familiar with cod, haddock, plaice and a few other species, but we want to open their eyes to the wider range of seafood on offer while informing them about supply chains, ensuring they have a strong grounding of the wider seafood industry.
“It’s a rare opportunity to get some real insight into what it takes to get fresh fish from sea to plate. I hope our finalists continue to develop their knowledge and take full advantage of the opportunities that this trip has presented them with.”
Culminating in an awards ceremony at The Lancaster London Hotel on 20 January 2016, The National Fish & Chip Awards are recognised as one of the most prominent and respected seafood industry events in the UK. Widely considered as the ‘Oscars’ of the fish frying industry, they celebrate the great British tradition of fish and chips, recognising the best talent, quality and choice offered by fish and chip businesses.
For further information on The National Fish & Chip Awards please visit www.fishandchipawards.com. Follow @FishnChipAwards on Twitter for all the awards news and information.