Work has begun on a major new £30million mackerel and herring processing facility and cold-store upgrade for Denholm Seafoods in Peterhead, which will result in increased efficiencies, enhanced product quality and a lower carbon footprint.

The investment – one of the largest ever undertaken by a wild-caught fish processing company in Scotland – will deliver a state-of-the-art fish handling and storage system, which will benefit the Scottish pelagic (mackerel, herring and blue whiting) fleet and provide opportunities to develop new markets.

The upgrade will enable Denholm Seafoods to increase its daily freezing capacity, and boost cold storage capacity to 19,000 tonnes. The investment includes the construction of a new 12,000 square metres cold store adjacent to the current Denholm Seafoods processing site at Peterhead harbour, which will be completed by late summer 2023.

The new facility has been designed with future expansion in mind with the potential to significantly increase freezing and storage capacity.

In tandem with the new cold store, the existing Denholm Seafoods processing facility will be refurbished with the installation of a sophisticated and highly automated turnkey fish processing system designed and supplied by Skaginn 3X. This phase of the project will be completed by summer 2024 and will result in significant savings in energy and packaging costs, as well as enable greater volumes of fish to be handled.

The provision of a new low pressure pump system to offload mackerel, herring and blue whiting catches from boats on the quayside will deliver fish quality benefits, which will be further enhanced by a new non-pressure plate freezing system that freezes the end-product much quicker than before.

The facility’s ‘intelligent’ process is designed to take about six hours from the time the raw material enters the factory through to final storage of the end frozen product. The project upgrade will deliver energy savings in the region of 30 to 40 per cent, contributing towards Scotland’s net zero targets.

Richard Duthie, managing director of Denholm Seafoods, said: “We are tremendously excited by this new investment, which will deliver benefits to Scotland’s important pelagic sector, and provide us with a platform for new growth.

“With soaring energy costs and the need to increase efficiency, product quality and automation, this project will ensure we remain competitive in a global marketplace and enable us to develop markets in key areas such as the Far East. It will, for example, enable us to explore new opportunities in value-added processing by providing increased flexibility in meeting customer requirements.

“Research has shown that Scottish mackerel production already has a much lower carbon footprint compared to most other types of protein production, and this new facility will enhance that green reputation even further.”

The project was supported by £2.8million of funding under Defra’s £100million UK Seafood fund and £1.2million from the Scottish Government through the Marine Fund Scotland.

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