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New Promotion Driving Scottish Mackerel Sales in Japan

31 October 2014

SCOTLAND, UK - Scottish seafood products have this week received a huge boost thanks to a bespoke promotion running with Aeon Group, one of the largest supermarket chains in Japan.

Brokered by Scottish Development International as part of the Scottish Seafood Collaboration Group, the promotion is designed to support the Scottish mackerel industry, which has been significantly impacted by recent events in Russia, and its import ban on a number of food and drink products.

Focusing specifically on mackerel, two products have been developed by retail chain Aeon Group using exclusively Scottish mackerel to suit Japanese customers’ price and flavour preferences.

The products hit the shelves at the weekend by way of a bagpipe-accompanied launch with in store-sampling across 80 stores, and will be supported over the coming weeks by Scottish-themed point of sale material.

Susan Beattie, head of food & drink at Scottish Development International, said: “Japan is one of the top priority markets identified in the industry export plan, and there is a real opportunity for Scottish companies to take advantage of the growing consumer demand for quality products with strong provenance.

“We are continuing to work alongside our industry partners to support Scottish companies as they break into markets such as Japan, and as part of this effort we are helping these companies to build relationships with key retailers, which will open new doors for Scottish companies.

“This promotion is a great opportunity to really fly the flag for Scottish produce and help us to drive global sales of Scottish food and drink.”

The promotion also capitalises on the rising popularity of ‘Massan’ a new television drama series based on the lives of Masataka Taketsuru, a Japanese whisky pioneer that attended Glasgow University, and his Scottish wife Rita Cowan. The heartwarming ‘asadora’ (or breakfast-time drama series) is very popular in Japan, raising the level of interest in Scotland and its products.

The Scottish Pelagic Processors Association is working with the Collaborative group to deliver on this project. Ian McFadden, chairman of the SPPA said: “We have been striving to increase share of exports of mackerel to Japan against stiff competition from other countries. It is gratifying to see investments of time and funds paying off in such a positive way. This will give us a substantial platform to build further sales”.

Graham Young, head of Seafood Scotland, part of the Scottish Seafood Collaborative Group, commented: “Both interest in quality Scottish products, and the shake-up of traditional seafood markets here, mean that now is an ideal time to focus on growing exports to Japan.

“We are in the midst of an intensive period of activity for Scotland in the country – starting with a strong Scottish presence at the Japanese Seafood Expo in August. It’s crucially important for our domestic industry that we raise awareness of Scottish product to key markets, and Japan, being one of the world’s main consumers of seafood and most importantly, mackerel, is top of our list.”

As well as sending a delegation to the Japanese Seafood Expo, Scottish seafood is receiving additional support in Japan through a partnership with the All Japanese Chefs Association (AJCA), which comprises some of the most influential chefs across the region, and helps to promote the inclusion of quality Scottish seafood on the menus of Japan’s high end eating establishments.

This promotion reflects the growing importance of the Japanese market to the Scottish food and drink industry, with trade valued at £81.9m in 2013. Scottish food and drink exports to Japan have increased by 59 per cent since 2007, when F&D exports were worth £51.6 million. Fish and seafood exports to Japan alone were worth £7 million in 2013.

TheFishSite News Desk

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