November 16, 2011
Pakistan seafood could give a major improvement to Grimsby's fish processing industry in years to come.
Expertise from the town in terms of infrastructure, controls and supply chain is currently being applied in the country, as part of a wide-ranging United Nations Industrial Development Organisation project to raise standards. Pakistan cannot currently export seafood to the EU, and with 650 miles of coastline along the north eastern Arabian Sea, there is a largely "untapped" supply of small pelagic fish, shrimp and other warm water species, that is being eyed up by the Humber Seafood Institute organisation.
With 70% of the UK consumed seafood processed here, and demand for exports high too, industry stakeholders are continually looking to forge new supply routes, as was illustrated this past month with an inaugural Spanish Chamber Of Commerce visit.
Simon Derrick, international projects manager at Grimsby Institute Group, is about to fly out to Pakistan again, having been there in May as part of the UN's continuing project.
He said: "Pakistan is untapped. It does not have EU approval (to supply) and they are working on obtaining approval. "We are looking at infrastructure and control systems. There is huge potential. It we are able to help Pakistan access the EU market, it could be worth EUR2.4 billion (US$3.2 billion), and that is why we are working very closely with them.
"Current systems of improving trade do not always meet the requirements of all stakeholders. By including governments, businesses and academia we take a holistic approach to approving trade. We have evidence of the impact of implementing trade corridors from Indonesia and Canada.
"This is a work in progress and we strongly believe in the concept."
Derrick said the UN was looking to get trade approval for Pakistan "as fast as Pakistan can get organised". Providing support and knowledge transfer is the contribution coming from Grimsby, where the international profile and expertise is clear.
Introducing quality standards, advising on infrastructure requirements and ensuring the working practices are right are all key strands that could ultimately lead to more raw materials heading for the major processors here.
"Ultimately, it comes down to their internal policies, be it political or financial, as to how quickly they can turn this around," Derrick added.
Simon Dwyer, chairman of the trade corridor group at Humber Seafood Institute, told how in recent years a major success for the region, and the balance sheets of seafood companies, has been changing a trend for the majority of seafood to enter the UK at Felixstowe, and replace that with Immingham, which now handles about 55%, on the doorstep of the award winning cluster.
He said: "We set a mission and went to places like China and talked to them about Grimsby and Immingham, about where the seafood processing sector was. We convinced them to ship to Rotterdam and then bring smaller vessels into Immingham, and it has been very successful for them and the processors.
"Because of this initiative we are going to have a brand new Border Inspection Post commissioned in a couple of years time and that will be able to handle other commodities as well as seafood."