SUSTAINABLE TUNA BRAND THE REEL FISH COMPANY NETS HUNDREDS OF NEW SHOPPERS
Independent ethical tinned tuna brand, The Reel Fish Company, has been making air-waves on the telly, with the launch of its first fishy TV ad campaign, piloted on Yorkshire Tyne Tees and Meridian South television. Since its TV debut just two weeks ago, the company say sales of its products have surged upwards by up to 50% in certain places within catchment of the two broadcasting regions.
For those who haven’t caught it on the telly – check it out on You Tube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS8VUqdwAOo
As co-founder Bryn Scadeng, comments: "It's great to know that shoppers have responded so positively to our advert. We know that people are concerned about the way food is farmed and produced, but our increased sales tell us that people across the UK are really prepared to put their money where their mouth is."
The Cheshire-based sustainable tinned tuna company has created a quirky animated 30 second advert to promote its delicious100% sustainable tuna products, fished exclusively by pole and line in the Maldives. Its message to viewers is simple: "never from nets" – because commercial net-fishing (by far the most common method used by suppliers) destroys lots of other marine life in the process. Despite this, the vast majority of tinned tuna available on supermarket shelves is sourced from nets.
This young Brit brand is a mere minnow compared to corporate whales like Princes and John West Foods, but The Reel Fish Company is making waves in the industry with its non-compromising approach to using sustainably sourced tuna. Created less than three years ago in a modest home-office outside Chester, its small but perfectly formed range of tinned tuna products are now stocked at all the major supermarkets nation-wide.
The cult of Reel Fish is growing rapidly, with supermarket sales on the up, and a recent endorsement from celebrity chef, Gino de Campo, who was broadcast using Reel Fish Tuna chunks on his show "Let’s Do Lunch with Gino and Mel."
The Story of The Reel Fish Company
Its tinned tuna range is now available at all the major supermarkets nationwide, so it’s hard to believe that The Reel Fish Company was dreamt up less than three years ago. Despite the deepening recession, and to the amazement of friends and family, founders, Bryn Scadeng and Angela Fitzpatrick, left their jobs at a leading branded UK canned fish company, to strike out on their own.
As Angela, explains, "Of course, we enjoyed the regular income, the company pension and occasional corporate perks, but we were very uncomfortable with the chief method by which our employer was catching its tuna - its biggest-selling product. They catch fish using huge nets (aka ‘purse seining’) – by far the most common commercial tuna fishing method in the world.
"The problem with net fishing is that it endangers marine life by catching other fish and marine animals like turtles and sharks," explains Bryn. "It’s a totally non-discriminatory method. You just chuck a massive net out to sea and scoop up whatever’s there on the day. You sift through it all to get to the tuna and discard the rest."
"After years working in the industry and constantly pressing (unsuccessfully) for a green alternative, we both decided enough was enough, and err…jumped ship. I think most people thought we were slightly mad giving up our jobs," continues Angela. "But sometimes you have to go with your gut instincts and put your money where your mouth is, so to speak."
Both Angela and Bryn felt their industry was hiding from the realities of intensive purse seine fishing and continuing to ignore the fact that more responsible methods exist, such as pole and line, the way in which all of their own Reel Fish tuna is now caught.
That’s why, in 2009 over a bowl of moules et frites in Chester - 'The Reel Fish Company' was spawned. Bryn and Angela set up their small office at Bryn’s home, and basically started calling the UK supermarkets, hooking up (the fishing puns end here folks) with their old contacts in the industry to drum up interest.
"The supermarkets totally got the idea of a tuna brand which would be pole & line fished, and never from nets," says Angela, "and they hadn't even seen a single can at this point. So we just thought: go for it!
"We also pledged only to source skip-jack tuna, a breed which grows quickly and is not under threat through being over-fished such as albacore and bluefin tuna".
Then came the challenge of catching some, canning it and bringing it into the UK. Searching for a credible fishery to provide traceable pole and line fish proved very difficult for Bryn and Angela at first. There are plenty of countries around the globe claiming to fish by pole and line but the Maldives is the only one which doesn't allow purse seiners into its waters.
This got them thinking about the whole value chain with tuna and they quickly realised that the benefits of Maldivian fish were not only to the eco-system but to the fishermen, families and local processors. It was literally better for everyone!
The good news for consumers here in the UK is that buying great quality, sustainable tuna comes at no extra cost. Reel Fish tinned tuna is comparable in price to other net caught canned fish brands, a fact which surprises many people who assume that "green" equals "expensive".
Bryn and Angela may be two very small fish in a big sea, but that doesn’t stop them having big ideas!
"We’ve sold nearly half a million cans to date and plan to take 8% of the UK tuna market in the next 3 years".
Not content with just selling their own Reel Fish products, they would love to see the industry stop fishing tuna with nets altogether. Their experience and uncompromising business ethic has gained them respect throughout the supply chain – from the fisherman whose livelihoods are improved by investment in their industry, to the supermarkets who choose to sell their products.
Reel Fish Company tinned tuna is available in sunflower oil, brine or water. Now available at selected branches of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Nisa, Co-operative, Morrisons and Booths. For more information about The Reel Fish Company visit www.reelfish.co.uk
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