Kit Davies
High class smoked salmon supplier H Forman & Son is wooing the multiples with a range of prepacked cured salmon products.
Forman is also taking over the running of the London Selfridges smoked fish counter in around two weeks' time.
MD Lance Forman is in talks with Sainsbury about stocking cured salmon prepacks in wasabi and ginger, cumin and apple, Thai cured and beetroot cured flavours, among other sophisticated offerings including caviar and smoked and marinated fish.
The company, Britain's oldest salmon smokery, supplies Fortnum & Mason and Harrods, as well as the Savoy.
Fortnum & Mason has just taken on board its wild smoked salmon pâté and Selfridges is to follow. Forman stresses he was happy to work with the high street multiples "if it is on our terms. We would like to do more in that sector provided they understand our volume constraints. But we think that the supermarkets are now beginning to realise the appeal of our values. You can see this in their working with local producers. In some of the more affluent areas we are working with them and I envisage that the ranges stocked will grow." Sainsbury has listed Forman lines for some five years with marinated anchovy on shelf in more than 100 JS stores.
"We used to supply Tesco with wild salmon until the product outpriced itself," said Forman.
Forman's new factory in Stratford maintains the artisan traditions of salmon smoking in the East End. "If we don't maintain the traditional skills of salmon smoking no one will," said Forman.
The company uses 25% wild and 75% farmed salmon from Scotland. Forman is sceptical about environmentalists' claims that farmed salmon has led to the decline of wild.
He added: "Talk to the fishermen and they all say the same ­ the problem is the seals, where a population has gone up from 25,000 to 300,000."