Representatives from the Scottish Seafood Association (SSA) visited Iceland recently where they looked at automated technology within the processing sector.
Hosted by Richard Adams of Curio Food Machinery Limited and Ellioi Hreinsson from Curio ehf, the party, which included SSA CEO and former skipper Jimmy Buchan, visited a number of seafood factories in the south-west of the country which have invested in the new technology.
Accompanying Jimmy on the trip were Alan Downie and Kim Adam of Downies of Whitehills,David Cook of International Fish Canners, Patrick Hughes and Donna Fordyce of Seafood Scotland,David and Vicky Gatt, Audacious, Mark Nicoll of Marine Scotland, Neil Sinclair of the Scottish Government and Derek McDonald of Aberdeenshire Council.
In common with Scotland, Icelandic processors are heavily dependent on migrant labour which is becoming increasingly scarce.
Build quality and performance of automated machines is encouraging more and more SMEs to invest.
The machinery reduces the dependency on large numbers of skilled filleters - again a scarce commodity in both countries.
The automated equipment delivers consistently high-quality fillet products over the duration of the working day and reduces factory floor fatigue in the skilled workforce.
All processing companies visited were very focused on market demand for specific seafood products and their production processes flowed back from this point. Quotas are not expected to increase in future and so business growth can only be achieved through greater efficiency.
Commenting on the trip, Jimmy Buchan said: “Clearly there is much to learn from visits of this type and the Marine Scotland representative was strongly supportive of further learning journeys.
“All processors could, and should, be actively considering investment in automation - particularly while grant support from the EMFF is still available.
“We recognise the post-Brexit vision of opportunity for the industry and is fully committed to helping its members fulfil their potent,” he added.