A spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk:“We expect the site in Grimsby to be fully operational by the end of this year – at which point it will be producing about 200t of seafood a week. That is around 10,000t a year.”
The new business will fillet and portion a variety of seafood in a currently empty factory at the Europa Business Park. The unit will process: salmon, cod, haddock, smoked cod, smoked haddock, cold water prawns, mussels and surimi.
Recruitment to fill the 200 new roles, including new product development, technical positions, human resources and line workers, will begin soon, said the firm. It hoped to recruit locally where possible.
The launch is part of the retailers' strategy to manufacture more of the fresh food that is sold in its stores.“By developing this business, the company will be in an enhanced position to deliver quality fresh and frozen seafood more quickly into store – and at an affordable price for shoppers,” it said.
Dalton Philips, chief executive of Morrisons, added:“Nobody else is buying direct from the quayside but we’re doing it. Building this seafood business will allow us to move our fish from ‘catch to kitchen’ even more quickly, giving our customers fantastic quality seafood products at stunning prices.”
The new factory will be run by Howard Sims, as md, and Rob Smith as head of operations.
The investment has been welcomed by North East Lincolnshire Council – following news that Irish chilled foods firm Kerry Foods planned to axe nearly 340 jobs in the town.
Jason Longhurst, the council's head of development, said: "We now look forward to seeing a re-balance in the economy in view of the loss of in excess of 1,100 jobs in the food manufacturing sector over the past three years.
"This news clearly represents a fantastic opportunity to build on Grimsby’s existing strength as the leading UK seafood manufacturing cluster and we are very much looking forward to working with Morrisons in the future."
Greg Clark MP, minister for cities, said during a visit to the town:"Grimsby has been through tough times, but this news from Morrisons is a real vote of confidence in the economic future of the area.
"This investment reinforces Grimsby's position as the heart of a vital cluster for the food processing industry, and will create valuable growth and jobs."
Morrisons said it would appoint a fisheries and aquaculture specialist to develop the retailers’ credentials in sourcing and sustainability.
Last month, Morrisons acquired the Vion Winsford meat packing facility. It reported that the acquisition – alongside the purchase of specialist cut flowers business Derby-based FlowerWorld – was part of a £200M investment programme to be spread over three years.