Emirates SkyCargo thinks this start-up has the potential to transform the seafood industry’s supply chain

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“Traceability is ‘I want to eat Norwegian salmon and knowing that is what I am getting’. In this region where food is expensive, that’s important”.

At the beginning of September, a batch of salmon arrived in Dubai in the cargo hold of Emirates flight EK 28 from Glasgow. The shipment of Scottish salmon, destined for restaurants and consumers in the UAE, was the first that was being transported for Seafood Souq, a Dubai based start-up working on transparent and efficient sourcing of seafood, by Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates.

Last week, the carrier said the start-up had “the potential to transform the supply chain for the seafood industry”.

Sean Dennis (fourth from left) with the Seafood Souq team. PHOTO: Seafood Souq

Lack of a central platform
In a phone call to SalmonBusiness, Seafood Souq CEO Dennis explained how his company answered the issue around the lack of a central platform which the communication and payments are made in the UAE and the Middle East.

The business to business (B2B) platform called Seafood Souq was launched in June by friends and start-up founders Ramie Murray (Middle East shellfish farm Dibba Bay Oysters), Sean Dennis (US blockchain start-up Loyyal), Denis Konoplev (UK-based AI platform Disperse) and Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi (UAE corporate advisor at investment firm AQ&P and the department of government relations for the Emirate of Sharjah).

Dennis – who previously had a blockchain company that worked with tech giants IBM – explained that the idea for the marketplace was driven out of his oyster farm owning co-founders’ frustration with the fragmented and very time-consuming sales process.

Buyers
“Seafood Souq helps producers, as well as sellers in different regions, target and communicate with their eventual buyers. You spend a long time on the phone or on email – we’ve made it easier for those guys to get on a single platform – to go through the single discovery phase in a far more efficient manner,” explained Dennis.

Users of the site include buyers for restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, catering groups, meal service plans and events companies.

Buyers can buy from suppliers like Mowi, dealing directly with them, or through regional distributors on our platform which creates an enormous amount of data and information available to that user through Seafood Souq for example on their order volumes and pricing trends.

The core aim of Seafood Souq is to provide access to product and price discovery of fresh products in the quickest possible time by connecting customers to suppliers and allowing produce to be dispatched on the day that the order is received.

Salmon
By connecting buyers and sellers direct especially, Dennis said that they have full cold chain overview or visibility that can be communicated to eventual buyers as well. For example, when a salmon is picked up from a farmer in Norway, its entire journey – first, middle and last – is tracked. “We then have oversight of the last mile as well – from runway to delivery to that buyer through IoT connected vans containing the cold chain throughout. From the consumer’s perspective, it’s for them to know that their salmon has been kept in the conditions that it should be”.

Important especially in the UAE where summer temps are upwards of 50 degrees in normal areas, whereas on a runway it can be 20 degrees hotter.

Group buying
Dennis explained that lack of transparency and information in the seafood chain was a driver. “We are in an industry that is historically difficult to track the authenticity or provenance of the product and therefore it has been difficult to pinpoint where things go wrong. Traceability is “I want to eat Norwegian salmon and knowing that is what I am getting”. In this region where food is expensive, that’s important”.

Any buyers of seafood no matter what size is able to communicate through the platform rather than having to make phone calls, emails and whatsapps etc. “For someone who wants to buy 5-10 kilos of salmon for example – that will be difficult without a group buying functionality, to buy direct from the source, that is. Therefore, distributors are a key player on the platform, and Seafood Souq aims to streamline their business development and customer servicing needs through the provision of this marketplace to communicate and transact with their buyers,” added the CEO.