Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Tony Killeen, T.D. today officially opened Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM’s) Seafood Development Centre – the first dedicated innovation facility for the Irish seafood sector – in Clonakilty, Co. Cork.
With a floor space of 768 square metres and facilities including wet fish processing areas; business incubation units, graduate laboratory, product development kitchen and an innovation and product concept room; BIM’s Seafood Development Centre (SDC), which delivers on a key recommendation of the Government led ‘Steering a New Course’ seafood strategy 2007-2013; will support and provide industry with a commercially focused innovation and New Product Development capability.
The Irish seafood sector is largely commodity driven with 85% of total produce sold as commodities. Whilst this fits with the market demand for some species, particularly in the pelagic sector, it does not deliver for other species as they can be dependant on fluctuating global markets leaving them open to predatory pricing by larger international trade players. By focusing on delivering value-added seafood relevant to end consumer needs; the sector can develop more stable markets and greater profitability. For every 10% conversion from commodity to value-added seafood, an additional €37 million per annum in sales could be generated.
BIM’s integrated business development and innovation programme which includes the SDC can assist industry to achieve this shift to value-added and over a five year period, aims to achieve €100 million in additional value-added seafood sales. BIM see significant potential for value-added produce in terms of seafood health and wellness benefits, consumer friendly packaging and convenient ready meals, organic seafood and optimising by-products from fish processing.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of State Killeen highlighted the benefit of the facility for the sector:
He said: “I am delighted to be here today to launch this impressive facility. A greater focus on innovation will provide the Irish seafood sector with an opportunity to increase sales to key markets. Our market share currently amounts to approximately 1- 4% in most EU markets where up to 70% of fish consumed is imported from outside the EU where producers are operating with significant cost advantages. We need to compete effectively against this and this new facility will ensure that the sector will have the support and expertise available to it to assist in achieving its potential and develop innovative products to better meet the needs of discerning international trade and consumers”.
The Irish seafood sector is a small player on a big stage with only a small number of companies operating at a high level. A more structured emphasis on market-led innovation is required to enable the sector to grow collectively to meet market demand. The switch from bulk to value added produce for some species not only refers to convenience offerings but to processing and packaging methods that best suit end customer requirements. These include ready prepared crab claws, marinated fillets, vacuum packed mussels, innovative packaging to reduce distribution costs and portion controlled servings. The SDC offers the facility to research, develop and pilot these new offerings before companies commit to full commercialisation and capital investment costs.
BIM’s CEO, Jason Whooley explains why the SDC is vital in delivering greater innovation and NPD for the Irish seafood sector. He stated: “We are delighted that the SDC is completed and this critical element of the Government seafood strategy has been achieved. BIM is best placed to assist the sector to grow their business through greater innovation and business development and we have set ambitious targets to ensure the SDC delivers on the potential that exists for value-added Irish seafood produce. We need to change direction from the traditional business models and this new focus on delivering value-added produce will enable the sector to take advantage of any future upturn in our economy”.
Irish seafood harnesses one of Ireland’s key natural resources and indigenous raw materials and currently generates annual revenues in excess of €715 million of which €334 million represents valuable export sales to international markets including France, UK, Spain and Germany.
Notes to Editor:
- High-resolution images of Tony Killeen, Fianna Fail TD for Clare, and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with special responsibility for Forestry, Fisheries and the Marine, may be downloaded from www.dunphyprimages.com
- For further information please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy PR at [email protected] or 086-8534900
- Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board is the Irish State agency with responsibility for developing the Irish Sea Fishing and Aquaculture industries. BIM provides commercially relevant and innovative services to the Irish seafood industry that drive growth opportunities, add value, enhance competitiveness and create jobs in a sustainable, natural resource based industry for the benefit of coastal communities
- The objectives of the SDC are to add value through the application of innovation in processing and marketing of seafood; to act as a centre of excellence for seafood innovation; to develop Irish seafood companies’ processing capabilities including NPD, packaging, processing technology; to provide cutting edge New Product Development, project management and business development skills; to assist the creation of start-ups and the provision of incubation space and to provide a training base for new seafood technology for business graduates wishing to enter the industry.
Dunphy Public Relations
Connolly, Ennis, Co Clare, IRELAND