Price is less important than brand recognition and provenance in the fast-growing added-value fish market, according to Muir Hunter, MD of the Scot Trout Group.
“Our target audience isn’t particularly bothered about price,” he says. “People buying our products just put them in their basket. They are more expensive than some others but are good value for money because the quality is there.”
The group includes RR Spink with its premium ready-to-eat smoked fish, Daniel’s Sweet Herring, which produces marinated herring and shellfish, and Scot Trout and Salmon, a supplier of own label fresh trout and salmon.
RR Spink has been smoking trout, salmon and mackerel by traditional methods since the early 1700s, and has increased turnover from £1m to £6m since 2000.
Hunter says a growing demand for smoked products as affordable luxuries has led to RR Spink’s branded products appearing in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Morrisons and M&S, as well as Harrods, House of Bruar, Jenners and independents.
The biggest difficulty is promoting the brand ahead of own label, says Hunter. “We are fighting an uphill battle in trying to push the brand against multiples wanting their own label. But I think it is worth fighting for.”
The company is particularly proud of its NPD, which it says has played a major part in its growth. “The average statistic is that for every ten products, nine fail,” says Hunter.
“We work at a ratio of for every ten we launch, seven succeed, and we have done that for the past three years. We have a consumer panel where we put all of our new products out for testing. It’s about getting the timing and presentation right.”