Seafood processing data and insight

Seafood processing is an important regional industry in the UK. We collect and analyse data on processing including performance and employment.

Size and performance of the seafood processing sector

The seafood processing sector is an important part of the seafood value chain. According to the European Commission 2020 Factsheet, the UK seafood processing sector is estimated to be one of the largest in Europe in terms of employment and turnover.

The seafood processing sector in the UK has contracted since 2012 but it is still an important sector. Although the number of sites has reduced, much of that is due to company takeovers and consolidation.

UK map showing top five regions by number of full time equivalent jobs

In 2021 there were 344 majority seafood processing sites across the UK. Some of these sites belong to multi-site companies. 

There were 18,021 full time equivalent jobs in the industry. 

The Humber and Cornwall regions in England and Scotland (particularly the Grampian region) are the main seafood processing hubs in the UK. These regions have the most processing sites and support the most jobs in the sector. 

UK map showing top five regional hubs by sites

The latest financial data we have for the industry is from 2018. Total income was £4.1 billion with a £427 million turnover. We will update this information in 2023 from our 2022 industry census.

Fish processed in the UK 

The UK processes most seafood types and mixed species factories are the most common. Processors use fish caught and landed in UK waters and fish imported from the rest of the world. 

Shellfish processing takes place all around the UK. Most of the factories are small (under 25 employees). 

Almost all salmon and pelagic (mackerel, herring) processing takes place in Scotland. 

Primary processing is the process of cutting, filleting, de-boning, peeling, washing, packing, heading and/or gutting. There are 82 sites specialising in primary processing and over half of those sites have less than 10 employees. 

Women processing fish in a factory

Secondary processing is the process of freezing, smoking, canning, brining, breading or making ready meals. There are 37 sites specialising in secondary processing. Six of these sites account for 82% of the FTE jobs at secondary processing sites.

Publications and tools with further data 

Seafood Processing Enquiry Tool 

All our seafood processing sector data from 2020 and 2021 and is available on our interactive Seafood Processing Enquiry Tool on Tableau. You can access this online tool from the link below: 

Seafood processing industry performance data reports

We've prepared a short report to inform the UK Government about energy use and cost pressures within the UK seafood processing sector. Download the report by following the link below. 

Our most recent reports from our annual industry census. Our 2021 report was focused on the impact of Brexit and the pandemic.

Seafood Processing methodology report

This methodology report presents the data collection and estimation procedure methodologies used by us to report on the size, structure and economic performance of the UK seafood processing industry. 

Seafood processing data collection 

We collect information from UK seafood processing businesses each year to ensure that the scale and performance of the sector are accurately measured.

Our processing survey helps us to put together an accurate picture of the seafood processing sector in the UK. The results are shared with government and industry to support business and policy decisions. 

Our 2022 census will be published in early 2023.

You can find out more about our annual survey of the seafood processing sector from the link below:

Further information

If you’d like further information on any of our processing industry data, please contact our Economics team by emailing economics@seafish.co.uk