The association’s chairman, Chris Sparkes told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The local fishing industry is shocked by this closure. The owners told me that it will not be known until next week (beginning August 29) whether the firm will continue as an on-going business or not. The staff were laid off with immediate effect.”
Established in 1972 as Grimsby Shellfish, the company changed its name to Superior Seafoods in 1992. According to the company’s website: “Superior Seafoods undertakes the primary and secondary processing of 30–40 species of whole fish. Secondary processing includes fish curing, portioning, marinating and freezing.”
Sparkes said: “For me, it’s very sad. I worked for them in 1971 and to see the business close is terribly sad.”
Asked why the firm closed, Sparkes said: “It is a difficult time of year and there have been no price rises for raw materials but you can’t blame it on any one thing.”
He said that the closure demonstrated “the fragilities” within the UK fishing sector, which the government should do more to help counter. “Government never does enough. They [the politicians] promise the world but deliver very little.”
But Sparkes highlighted the underlying robustness within the area’s fishing sector. “There’s a lot of investment being made in fish processing around Grimsby. The Grimsby Sea Food Village [a new industrial area for fish processors] is due to open next month.”
Also, several fish processors are said to be planning new factory developments next year.
Sales through Grimsby fish market have increased this summer after Atlantic Fresh’s decision, in June, to stop selling whole fish through the Hull auction house.
Chief executive of Grimsby Fish Merchants Association Steve Norton said: "For a long time there has been a downturn in supply and clearly it is not economically viable to put fish into two centres on the Humber.
"Grimsby FMA has done all it can to assist merchants in Hull to buy fish in Grimsby; we now have at least six new members.’
This has clearly been a huge psychological blow to Hull to lose the Icelandic imports. However, it has reaffirmed Grimsby’s credentials as a centre of seafood excellence. We have a critical mass of buyers and, coupled with the long-awaited modernisation of Grimsby fish market and the Seafood Village, the future looks promising.”
Meanwhile, equipment at Superior Seafoods’ factory included a salmon processing line including an inline filleter, pin boners, skinner and a Marel portioning machine, according to the firm’s website.
Secondary processing equipment included fish curing, which was processed through an AFOS smoking kiln that was capable of handling 21,000kg of production a week.
It also operated freezing and vac-pac facilities and controlled atmosphere packaging machinery for use in tray pack products.
No one from Superior Seafoods was available to speak to FoodManufacture.co.uk.