Processing sector statistics

Our economics team conducts annual financial surveys of UK fish processors. The team also carries out a census of all UK fish processing businesses every two years.

About sector statistics

The latest Seafood Processing Industry Report presents an overview and analysis of the UK seafood processing industry, with particular emphasis on the sea fish processing sector. The analyses contained in the report use the latest UK fish processing industry information gathered and managed by Seafish Economics: 2016 Processing Census data, 2014 Processing Financial Survey data and qualitative research data gathered in 2016.

The scope of the census survey included UK - though not the Channel Islands or Isle of Man - fish processing businesses of all sizes, engaged in any type of processing, where 50% or more of their turnover was generated by processing activities.

Some highlights from the report:

Processing units

  • In 2016 there were 376 fish processing units in the UK providing a total of 17,999 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
  • There were 307 sea fish processing units in the UK, providing a total of 13,554 FTE jobs. 
  • In 2016 the 69 salmon processing units in the UK, were responsible for 4,445 FTE jobs.

Annual industry turnover

  • Total sea fish annual industry turnover was an estimated £3.1 billion in 2014, a 14% decrease since 2012 in nominal terms. For context, UK consumers purchased £6.34 billion worth of seafood in 2015.
  • Between 2010 and 2014 seafood industry turnover did not change significantly, while operating costs increased by 2%, resulting in a drop in operating profit. The reduced profitability of the seafood processing industry in 2014 appears to have been driven by higher labour, energy and other operating costs.

Industry confidence

  • Growing demand for seafood and signs of economic recovery underpin industry confidence in the long-term sustainability and profitability of seafood processing in the UK. However, the supply of raw materials, regulatory and trade developments such as exchange rate movements, skill shortages and retailer pressure on suppliers create issues for many businesses in the seafood processing industry.
  • The outcome of the UK/EU referendum has resulted in a significant amount of uncertainty to processing business managers and owners. Labour, funding and trade agreements are among the issues commonly cited as unknowns for future business planning.

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