The gut factory at Heogan in Bressay has had a record-breaking 12 months, processing more than 14,000 tonnes of salmon and herring trimmings. In July and August alone it took in between 500 and 600 trucks of raw material.
Operator Shetland Fish Products, which is owned by Shetland Catch, Lerwick Port Authority, Shetland Producers’ Organisation and Seafood Shetland after a buyout three years ago, contributed between £1 million and £1.2 million to the local economy last year.
Managing director Helge Korsager said: “We are very pleased with how the company has grown over the last three years. Since the local shareholders … took full ownership of the business in 2009, the company has undergone significant change. The raw material foundation of blue whiting has been replaced by salmon and herring, which has meant a complete change to our machinery and processes. Our processes and process control are now much more sophisticated and are, in fact, on a par with the very best producers in the world.
“In our busiest months of July and August this year, we have seen an increase of 133 per cent in volume compared with the same months in 2011. During these months we have moved around 8,500 tonnes of raw material, which accounts for somewhere between 500 and 600 trucks on the Bressay ferry.
“We also provide vital business in Bressay and contribute significantly to the wider Shetland economy.
“Part of our business development has to be attributed to the partnership we have built with Shetland Catch and the level of herring offal that we have been able to purchase.”
Managing director of Shetland Catch Simon Leiper said: “This year, we have enjoyed our busiest herring season since 2007, and as quotas recover, early indications are that they will increase by a further 15 per cent next year, with the season extending from June until August. Herring will be a fundamental part of Shetland Catch’s business going forward, which, of course, is also good news for Shetland Fish Products – and the local economy.”
Reflecting on developments since Shetland Fish Products became wholly owned in Shetland, Mr Korsager said: “All this would not have happened without a board of directors with vision and courage to progress, and good local management and staff. We are optimistic for the future, and believe that the raw material volume could increase by 25 to 50 per cent over coming years.”