Macduff aims for 25% of business from Asia

7th November 2014

QINGDAO, China — Scottish fishing and processing firm Macduff Shellfish hopes Asia can account for 25% of its global revenues by 2017.

The company, which has turnover of around £60 million, currently generates around 12% from Asia, with around 5% from the US and the main chunk from Europe.

Despite being UK-based, most of the vertically integrated company’s European sales come from exports, with Italy, France and Spain the main three markets for its scallops, brown crabs, langoustines and whelks.

Asia is the fastest growing region, Roy Cunningham, managing director and Euan Beaton, chairman, who built the family company up with his brothers, told Undercurrent News, at the China Fisheries and Seafood Expo.

A 25% Asia, 25% North America and 50% Europe sales split is achievable, said Beaton.

Demand for the company’s four core species means Macduff has shipped 50 containers to Asia already this year, compared to 20 the year before, he said.

Macduff is exhibiting at the China show for the fourth time.

“China and the wider market of Asia has grown in importance to us over the last three years, more than doubling its volumes through that period,” Cunningham told Undercurrent. “A rising middle class and demand for safe, quality, wild seafood has meant that the years of preparation work in the Chinese market are now rapidly delivering rewards.”

This growth in China for Macduff, which is 50% owned by a private equity, Change Capital Partners, is partly coming from carefully picking the right suppliers, both said.

“It’s the result of a lot of hard work after the shows,” said Cunningham, who came to one of the early China Fisheries and Seafood Expo’s, around 18 years ago, in another role.

Macduff has taken its time in expanding into China and finding the partners, such as one a distributor in Shanghai, focused on retail and another, in Hong Kong, focused on foodservice.

The company is also moving forward with its model of financing vessels in Stornoway, where it bought a langoustine processing plant from Young’s Seafood in 2013.

Macduff is partnered with the local council on lending to vessel owners. This means the vessel owners can financier their operations, buy new gear or even invest in new boats. The eighth such deal was concluded on Nov. 7, Cunningham said, with the skipper of a vessel named Lead Us.

There are 12 vessels in total in the Stornoway langoustine fishery, which all land to Macduff’s plant, Beaton said.

The approach by Macduff and the local council to offer loans to vessels, in return for supply, has brought four into the fishery, from around the Scottish coast and also one from Ireland, said Cunningham.

Macduff also has a fleet of its ten of its own vessels, having bought scallop fleet Scott Trawlers and four vessels from Soltire Seafoods.