Scotland business

Associated Seafoods calls for Scottish smoked salmon protection

Smoked salmon Image copyright Thinkstock

A seafood firm has called for Scottish-produced smoked salmon to be granted protected status.

Moray-based Associated Seafoods said producers in other countries such as France and the US had "misappropriated" the Scottish tag for smoked salmon.

It wants the product to be granted protected geographical indication (PGI) status.

This would mean smoked salmon produced in other nations could not be packaged, sold or advertised as Scottish.

Both farmed and wild Scottish salmon already have protected status.

Earlier this week, an American salmon supplier was fined and given probation for falsely claiming its fish was from Scotland when it had been imported from Chile.

UpRiver Aquaculture, also known as MKG Provisions, pleaded guilty to violating a US law on false labelling of food.

'Disenchanted'

Buckie-based Associated Seafoods, which exports to more than 25 nations around the world, said products in some countries used terms such as "Scottish-style", although they had nothing to do with Scotland.

Commercial director Neil Greig said: "We look around the world and we do get a bit disenchanted that the name of Scottish quality smoked salmon seems to be eroded.

"There are countries where companies continue to use the Scottish name because it indicates a quality product.

"There is protection for raw Scottish salmon but not for smoked salmon.

"There have been many attempts in the past to gain protection but for whatever reason no-one has managed to get over the obstacles to achieve that."

This week Associated Seafoods launched The Pride of Scotland brand to emphasise the Scottish provenance of its premium smoked salmon.

Mr Greig added: "We want to regain the high ground and bring back the name 'Scottish' to where it should be."

The Scottish government confirmed that it was approached in 2010 about a potential protected food name application for Scottish smoked salmon.

A spokeswoman said: "Advice was given about the application process and criteria for protected food name status, and the application was not taken forward by the producers concerned."

'Success story'

James Withers, chief executive of industry body Scotland Food and Drink, said: "Whenever a product has success, it breeds imitations.

"There is no doubt that the Scottish salmon sector is a real success story. At home in the UK, one million fresh salmon meals are eaten every day and a million smoked salmon meals every week.

"It is Scotland's top food export, with sales overseas of around £450m every year. Therefore, the sector will attract those looking to piggy back on that increasingly successful brand.

"Scottish farmed salmon already has European protected status, recognising its uniqueness, in the same way as other products like Scotch beef and lamb and Scotch whisky.

"However, when products get further processed, labelling often gets confusing and, at worst, can be deliberately misleading.

"If the label has Scottish on it, I believe the average consumer expects that the production or processing has been done in Scotland.

"The more that can be done to ensure that is always the case, the better."

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