Politics

Transformational opportunities for seafood sector outlined as £433,510 Gove-backed project launches

Seafood leaders in Grimsby have been given an introduction to a “transformational” project for the world-renowned cluster.

The sector has received a portion of the £220 million Community Renewal Fund, with a launch event to inspire engagement held at Blundell Park.

Almost £500,000 has been drawn down by a stakeholder partnership, with eyes on a further catch as part of recent follow-up announcements.

Read more:£75m seafood industry boost welcomed as innovation, infrastructure and skills to benefit

Dean of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing Centre, Val Braybrooks, is leading on the project with Simon Dwyer – a key figure in the sector.

Prof Braybrooks, part of University of Lincoln, said: “This fund is so exciting, it really opens up the opportunity to really put some resources into Grimsby to help our businesses.”

On the win, announced – and referenced by Levelling Up Minister Michael Gove – late last year, she said: “It was highly competitive. North East Lincolnshire Council has led the charge with a number of projects, we’re delighted and thankful for the support in that, and we’re really pleased we have got this piece of work to help our sector.

“We have got to make sure we deliver the huge impact everyone really wants, and we only have a short window of time. It finishes in June so we have a lot to do. We have a great team of people to work with and organisations such as Grimsby Institute, Seafish, North East Lincolnshire Council and Grimsby and Humber Seafood Alliance

“We are a great partnership, we have lots of strengths and can cover lots of ground, whether it is skills, innovation, digital automation – we have huge resources to help business. We are hugely excited.”



Dean of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing Centre there, Val Braybrooks, and Simon Dwyer, a key figure behind the Grimsby seafood cluster.
Dean of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing Centre, Prof Val Braybrooks, and Simon Dwyer, a key figure behind the Grimsby seafood cluster.

Delegates were told the fund and support it will back is not just manufacturing and processing but hospitality and retail aspects.

Green energy and decarbonisation concepts are at the fore too, with engineering, storage and logistics all party to it.

Senior lecturer Mathew Thompson, a Grimsby-born industry specialist, said: “This area is a key priority in terms of the council and Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and it is also about fuelling the UK Food Valley ambitions.

“We have such an opportunity here. There’s a personal pride behind this too. I was giving some lectures before Christmas in Indonesia, and in Indonesia the reputation of Grimsby stands out on the back of people’s work from the past. Part of this is keeping that reputation and longevity going.

“There are so many unique opportunities for the sector. This CRF is here to transform the seafood cluster.

“It is seen as a key global cluster, but others are seeking to be a key global cluster too.”

Underlining the need to stay ahead, he said: “We have a breadth of knowledge, industrial scientists, technical and logistics specialists; outside of this room another 50 staff who can support a wide range of projects across a wide range of fields from process and product development to supply chain, production and technical management and procurement, the list goes on.

“It filters into areas of digital robotics and automation. Beyond that have commercial specialists within finance business planning, marketing skills and workforce development. It is not just about what we have today, but what we can build for the future.”

Mr Dwyer represents the scores of fish merchanting companies in the town, from sole traders to multinationals.



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He said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for all the businesses in the region, whether a large business or an independent mobile fishmonger, or somewhere in between.

“Grimsby’s seafood cluster is one of the largest in the Northern Hemisphere, employing over 5,500 directly in seafood and fish processing, and another 10,000 in the supply chain.

“Most of these people working in the industry are living in North East Lincolnshire, processing fish coming from all over the world, some 30 species from 40 different countries. We are supplying all the major retailers and food service organisations throughout the UK and exporting, although that has been tricky with Brexit.

“We are home to the protected geographical indication for Traditional Grimsby Smoked Fish and we have world class people working in the industry today interested in innovation, sustainability and marketing, doing great things.”

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