It allows customers to track, in real time, when an order was placed and where the seafood purchase was harvested, packaged, transported to Dubai and delivered.
According to the company, the technology will help ensure food safety and transparency for its buyers, which includes restaurants, hotels, meal plan companies and supermarkets, as well as end consumers.
According to Sean Dennis, CEO & co-founder of Seafood Souq, the traditional seafood supply chain is long and complex which gives way to mislabelling problems and a lack of visibility of the companies and individuals behind the product consumers are eating.
He told FoodNavigator-Asia: “A global seafood fraud study (Oceana Deceptive Dishes report) found that one in five seafood samples worldwide were mislabelled and an even more concerning factor was over half of these were fish that were deemed unfit for human consumption.”
The firm said mislabelling could happen for both intentional and unintentional reasons, but the results were the same; businesses could receive incorrect products of reduced value, not as fresh or even harmful to the end consumers health.
Middle East hub
The firm first launched in Dubai in 2019. Dennis said: “The UAE and in particular, Dubai, are perfectly located globally as a major hub for the transportation of seafood. Dubai has become the trade link between West and East and North and South, with so much product coming into the region as well as flowing through.”
According to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the UAE imports 70% of its whole seafood, mostly from China, Norway, Scotland, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.
The average per capita seafood consumption in UAE is 24kg per year, one of the largest globally.
Dennis said for end consumers, this traceability system would also benefit them as “they get to know the story behind their seafood and make more informed, healthy, sustainable and responsible choices.”
Seafood Souq’s platform sells both local - sea bass, sea bream, hamour, Dibba bay oysters - and international products - Norwegian salmon, Scottish salmon, Maine Lobster.
The most popular at present on the platform are salmon, bass, bream and lobster.
Seize the opportunity
The company is looking to trade up to 150 tonnes per month by the end of 2020 for its direct from source business. The company is currently trading between 20 and 40 metric tons of seafood per month.
“The plan is (to) as quickly as we possibly can reach out to the rest of the UAE and into the GCC, within this year.” The firm is currently looking into Oman and Saudi Arabia.
In addition to increasing the trade volume, the company will be working on several digitisation projects.
“We are currently working on projects with local supermarkets to supply their fish counters with 100% traceable seafood where the end consumer can scan a QR code to learn about the story of their fish. In addition, we are also digitising a number of physical fish markets which enables consumers to benefit from our supply chain efficiencies and traceability.”
The firm hopes its technology can help build trust in the seafood market in the UAE and Gulf region across the entire supply chain, with blockchain a possible future strategy.
“We’re currently looking into it (blockchain) and have met with a number of partners that would be able to facilitate this, including IBM with their Food Trust platform.”