Asia, A Growing Premium Seafood Market

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

in an interview with APFI, Julian Taylor, Scottish Development International, Executive Director, Asia-Pacific, shares more on the opportunities Asian markets can provide when it comes to premium foods.

Julian Taylor


Asia as a region features a wide range of socio-economic differing countries, from developed ones like Singapore, Japan or South Korea, to emerging markets like Indonesia, Thailand or Vietnam. Due to the growth of the world economy today, consumers are increasingly able to afford and demand for premium food and beverages.

As of 2015, Asia has an estimated population size of 4.36 billion. Its consequently large and continuously growing middle-class consumer population currently totals about 500 million, but this figure is expected to reach 1.75 billion by 2020. This presents a large potential for growth in the premium food and beverages market, one such being seafood.

Like many wanting to ride on this train to success, the Scottish Seafood Collaborative Group (SSCG) has also made efforts to venture into Asia, and Julian Taylor, Scottish Development International (SDI) executive director Asia-Pacific shares more.

What prompted the group to develop in Asia?

Through detailed market research and visits to Asia, the Scotland Food and Drink partnership under SSCG found that Asia has a growing appetite for high quality products and consumer enthusiasm for seafood, making the market a good fit for the high quality, premium seafood and salmon fished and farmed from Scotland’s waters.

As such, the project began to evolve with the aim of raising awareness of the wealth of seafood and high quality products available to Asia’s best restaurants, chefs and high-end retailers. We believe we have what local consumers are looking for, whether that is our health-enhancing salmon (one of the richest foods in omega-3) or the assurance of food safety, which is the basis of our sector.

Asia is very much a key target market for the group, and the six key cities we are targeting are: Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong.

Why target these six cities?

In each city, there is a strong food culture and customers whom we believe will truly appreciate what we have to offer. While Scotland will never be a mass producer, we still aim to produce one of the finest seafood in the world and in so doing, we need to match our products to our customers’ expectations and understanding of our produce.

We believe that we can maximise the results for both Scotland and discerning buyers in these six leading cities across Asia. This will provide a great platform from which we can explore the markets beyond.

Besides seafood, is there anything else in the food and beverage industry that Scotland has to offer Asia?

Scotland is known as a whiskey-producing nation, so I think there is significant opportunity to leverage on that international success and illustrate a wider ‘premium’ food and drink offering from the country. These include a range of products from dairy to craft beer and spirits, to red meat and baked goods and confectionery.

In fact, a number of Asian countries have been earmarked as priority export markets for these extended range of products—namely mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea.

Dairy consumption in China for example, is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent between 2015 and 2017, and high-end milk products in particular could see 20 percent annual growth rates.

Premium food service too is expected to see rapid growth especially in Southeast Asia, due to the large populations of young consumers, high per capita spending, a well-developed dining out culture and a growing focus on healthy but indulgent foods.

We believe these are great opportunities where our country can make strong product offerings.

Targeting any new international markets will come with its unique challenges, so we think it is important to have ‘feet on the ground’ and have since invested strongly in developing these markets. We have market specialists for this purpose across Asia to provide market research insights and make connections to importers, distributors and retailers.