Thursday, 17 December 2015
Progressive electronic auction returns another successful year
With 283,827 boxes of whitefish landed into Lerwick and Scalloway markets sold up to November 28, Shetland Seafood Auction has recorded another very consistent year and already recorded its third highest annual total, for which a new record of 306,837 boxes was established just 12 months ago.
Recording another extremely strong year is a tremendous achievement for the auction process in Shetland, and one that signifies the continual progress made since electronic selling was adopted in 2003.
Auction manager Martin Leyland attributes the consistent upward trend to ‘effective teamwork’ that has steadily built a solid reputation for meeting customers’ requirements.
Shareholders in Shetland Seafood Auctions Ltd include the vessel agents LHD Ltd and the Shetland PO, together with local processors represented by Shetland Seafood and Lerwick Port Authority.
After 119,083 boxes were sold in the inaugural year, throughput on Lerwick and Scalloway fish markets rose steadily year-on-year, before reaching a plateau of around 260,000 boxes between 2008 – 2012, prior to exceeding 300,000 boxes for the first time in 2013.
Some of the strongest haddock fishing experienced in Shetland for 30 years, backed by increased quote availability, is one of the reasons for the higher level of landings coming ashore from both local and visiting whitefish boats on a regular basis.
Another key factor is the consistent level of prices achieved, which compare very favourably with other main whitefish markets in Scotland and the UK. The firm price structure achieved highlights the high degree to which local buyers support the auction, as well as the extent to which they embraced electronic selling after some initial reservations had been expressed.
Effort constraints and the desire of skippers to maximise their fishing days also enter the equation. A number of Scottish whitefish vessels, including Boy Andrew, Opportune and Ocean Reaper IV, regularly land into either Lerwick or Scalloway before their fish is sold by Shetland Seafood Auctions.
Operational factors, including all whitefish being sold by the price per kilo since August 2010, rather than box weights as previously, are also contributing to sales growth.
Another major technological development is that full details of all fish landed into either Lerwick or Scalloway markets, including species type, grades and quantities, is electronically recorded by market staff using a rugged compact portable input station. Replacing the previous handwritten card tally, the market information is subsequently downloaded electronically to create a sales catalogue each morning that is available for local and remote buyers.
Since April 2013, the number of buyers registered to buy each morning, by stopping the Auxcis electronic sales clock, has grown steadily since Shetland Seafood Auctions introduced remote buying, following an extensive trial period.
By the end of this year nine regular remote buyers, based all around the UK, will have bought fish on the auction to a value of almost £1m.
Remote buying has increased competitive bidding. This in turn ensures consistent supplies and an overall healthy situation for buyers and sellers alike.
Transportation of whitefish bought remotely on either Lerwick or Scalloway is co-ordinated by Shetland Seafood Auctions and delivered to the buyer.