The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) has been shortlisted in the Scottish Food & Drink Excellence Awards for a scallop party food dish.

Featuring succulent queen scallops in a cream and chardonnay sauce with a crunchy ciabatta topping, Morrisons Signature Coquille St. Jacques was selected as a finalist in the Fish & Seafood category of the awards because of its fine flavour and use of locally sourced natural ingredients. Attractively presented in a 100g pack, this ready to cook dish uses queen scallops caught by fishermen from around Scotland and the rest of the British Isles.

Stephen Cameron, managing director of SSMG said: “We are thrilled that our Coquille St. Jacques has made the shortlist for the prestigious Scottish Food & Drink Excellence Awards. Developing  new products in collaboration with our customers is at the heart of our business and it is great that such innovation has been recognised in this way.”

The Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards recognise those businesses and individuals in Scotland who are leading the way with innovation, enterprise and quality. The awards ceremony and dinner will be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 2 June 2016.

The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group has appointed Nicola Cargill as National Account Manager.

Managing key multiple retail and foodservice accounts, Nicola brings a wealth of experience to SSMG, joining the company from Langmead Produce where she held a senior commercial position. Prior to then, she worked with the marketing team at Angus Soft Fruits.

Nicola said: “I am delighted to be joining SSMG at such an exciting time in the development of the business and where product innovation and new market development runs at the very heart of the operation.

“Shellfish such as rope-grown mussels have great potential in the marketplace, given that they taste great and are sustainably produced and healthy to eat.”

Stephen Cameron, managing director of SSMG, said: “We are pleased that Nicola has joined the team at a time when demand for our high quality mussel and other shellfish products is growing. We are excited about the future of the business and Nicola will play a key role in our development plans.”

SSMG is a co-operative of mussel and oyster farmers located on the West coast of Scotland and Shetland. The business supplies the multiple retail and foodservice sectors with high quality live and value-added shellfish products through its modern processing facility based in central Scotland.

The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group’s website has undergone major redesign so as to broaden its appeal for users.

New features of the site include visually appealing descriptions of how Scottish mussels and oysters are cultivated, recipes and farmers’ blogs. There is also an emphasis on the sustainable methods used in Scottish farmed shellfish production.

Stephen Cameron, managing director of SSMG, said: “We are delighted with our new-look website which we feel will appeal to a wider audience, especially consumers. We have a great story to tell in Scottish farmed shellfish sector and our new website will provide an important means for getting that information across to as wide an audience as possible.”

A PILOT to test the commercial viability of a mussel hatchery in Scotland will be established in Scalloway, Shetland, it has been announced

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise launched the £1.9 million, 30-month project at an industry workshop in Edinburgh.

Shellfish production is a growing industry in Scotland, supporting more than 500 jobs across the supply chain, many in rural areas. Mussel production in Scotland reached its highest ever level in 2014, with Shetland accounting for almost 80 per cent of production.

There is capacity and demand to raise production substantially, if the industry can address issues such as the availability of mussel spat, said SAIC.

The establishment of a commercial hatchery to produce spat would help to resolve this issue, providing Scottish producers with a reliable supply of spat (and potentially other juvenile shellfish).

Other key partners in the hatchery project include the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group, the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Scottish government.

At its first annual conference, SAIC also announced funding for two new cleaner fish projects, both exploring the potential of lumpfish. The first, led by Marine Harvest Scotland, with partners Benchmark, BioMar, the Scottish Salmon Company, Otter Ferry and Stirling University, will look at breeding, feeding and deploying lumpsuckers, said SAIC chief executive Heather Jones (pictured).

The £2.5 million, three-year project will receive funding of £817,000 from SAIC, said Jones.

The second research scheme will be led by the Fish Vet Group, with Scottish Sea Farms, the Scottish Salmon Company, Grieg Seafood, and Cook Aquaculture as industry partners, and Stirling University and Ardtoe Marine Research Facility providing the academic support.

This £475,000, two-year project will look at improving the survival and welfare of lumpfish.

Scotland’s deputy first minister John Swinney, who was the keynote speaker at the conference, said: ‘Scotland’s aquaculture industry makes a vital contribution to our economy.

‘It generates economic activity in Scotland worth £1.86 billion every year and creates thousands of jobs in often very remote areas.

‘The Scottish government is fully supportive of the sustainable growth of aquaculture, underpinned by world leading science, research and innovation and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre has a key role in proactively driving innovation.

‘I welcome this announcement of an innovative project to develop Scotland’s first commercial mussel hatchery.

‘This stepping stone initiative is crucial to our shellfish industry, enhancing the opportunity for significant future growth.’

There are two main elements to the shellfish project:

  • establishing a core pilot-scale hatchery at the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in Scalloway, Shetland, and testing the commercial feasibility of spat production;
  • a programme of research and development to support new technologies and processes aimed at increasing the yield of farmed mussels in Scotland.

Also involved in the R&D programme are members of the MASTS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology) academic community.

In addition to the NAFC Marine Centre UHI, this includes researchers at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS, which is also a member of the University of the Highlands and Islands) and Marine Science Scotland, as well as a Scottish research focused company, Xelect.

Funding for project includes contributions from SSMG, the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Xelect and the academic partners, as well as significant investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government.

Jones said: ‘Developing secure health certified spat production systems is a Priority Innovation Action for SAIC, and we’re very pleased to drive such an initiative forward and co-fund this stepping stone to a commercial hatchery project.

‘In bringing together academic expertise and industry ambition, this transformative project could deliver measurable economic growth in a key Scottish sector.’

Michael Tait, chairman of SSMG, said: ‘Having a more reliable source of spat will help shellfish producers in Scotland meet the industry’s shellfish production target of 13,000 tonnes by 2020.

‘In addition, the new technologies and processes permitted by the SAIC sponsored research could allow our members to generate increased and more reliable yields, and help them target new export markets. This announcement is a milestone for the industry.’

Elaine Jamieson, head of Food & Drink, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: ‘The Highlands and Islands has a global reputation in aquaculture and our produce is renowned for its high quality.

‘The shellfish industry clearly has ambition to increase production, and this collaborative research project has the potential to strengthen Scotland’s position in a growing international market. We believe the project will be a catalyst to significantly improving productivity and output.

‘The vast majority of our shellfish producers are located in coastal communities in the north and west of Scotland, so in addition to supporting growth in the food and drink sector, this project will benefit communities and create new jobs in some of our more remote areas.’

University of the Highlands and Islands deputy principal Dr Crichton Lang, said: ‘The applied research made possible by this hatchery project will look at aspects the industry considers important to commercial success.

‘As such, the research could make a demonstrable impact on coastal communities and the shellfish industry in Scotland, and we are delighted to be part of this collaboration.’

The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) will be attending the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre’s (SAIC) first annual event and conference at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh on 18 November 2018.

The event will bring together invited aquaculture businesses, researchers and students with key decision-makers and influencers.

The theme of the event is Aquaculture Innovation: A Springboard to 2030. This will include a plenary session entitled ‘Aquaculture Growth through a Balanced Approach to Sustainability’ where  SSMG chairman Michael Tait will be a panellist taking questions from participants.

SSMG will also have a stand in an exhibiting area associated with the annual conference where they will be highlighting career and training opportunities for young people in the farmed shellfish sector.

Food Secretary Richard Lochhead visited the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group (SSMG) on 9 September to announce that the Scottish food and drink sector generated a record turnover of £14.3 billion in 2013.

Scottish shellfish farming is just one of the food sectors that are experiencing strong growth.

Stephen Cameron, managing director of SSMG, said: “It is fantastic news that Scotland’s food and drink sector is thriving and I am delighted that the Scottish farmed shellfish sector is playing its role in this success story.

“We have an ongoing strategy to increase tonnages in line with market demand, which is rising year on year.  We are experiencing a sustained increase in sales and through product innovation have developed a wide range of mussel ready meals and other shellfish dishes that are proving popular with consumers.”
Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland's food and drink growth sector is booming with turnover reaching a record high in 2013. To surpass £14 billion for the first time is simply outstanding and must give the sector real confidence.

"This industry is Scotland's jewel in the crown and I am committed to seeing it thrive and flourish. The Scottish Government and our agencies are working closely with industry to achieve its ambitious targets, which have previously been smashed years ahead of schedule.”