Scotland’s largest supplier of Atlantic salmon has revealed its medium and long term strategies for salmon processing in the West Highlands. 

Following scoping ideas announced a year ago, the company plans to expand on its current ‘Blar Mhor’ factory near Fort William, while continuing to investigate the potential for a state-of-the-art processing facility at its aquaculture hub located at Kyleakin, Isle of Skye. 

“With capacity-increasing modifications made over the past three decades, last year our incredible workforce managed to process 66,000 tonnes of salmon at our Blar Mhor plant. However, with no more internal space available to us in the existing structure, the building is now the limiting factor for any future growth,” explains Ewan MacColl, Operations Director, Processing. 

“After much consideration and expert review, we feel that a standalone processing unit alongside Blar Mhor can provide the additional capacity required for the next five years, and also assist us with the more manual operation associated with a growing demand for premium quality standards and brands. We will soon be applying for planning permission with hopes to start construction late this year with the facility being operational mid-2021.”

Ben Hadfield, COO (Farming Scotland & Ireland), adds:

“While the expansion of Blar Mhor does help with the required dexterity for our premium brands in the medium term, it is not the level of automation that this business needs to be prepared for the future. That is a plant next to the sea with efficiencies that process whole live fish into trimmed fillets and full utilisation of all by-products to create a fuller circular economy.”  

Mowi highlights an opportunity to build a state-of-the-art fish processing facility in Scotland, at a preferred location within its property at Kyleakin, where significant investment had been made last year building a new fish feed mill and marine pier. 

The company has now received Major Pre-Application Advice from Highland Council for its proposal – a first step in a very long and thorough planning process. 

“Future steps will include a full environmental impact assessment, Mowi board approval and a thorough public consultation process not only with other statutory bodies like Scottish Natural Heritage, but also community groups and individuals from Skye, Fort William and Mallaig who we understand will have questions,” says Ewan. “If we were successful with our planning application, then the new facility would not be operational until after 2025.”

“Whatever the future, our goal as an essential food producer is to continue to supply a growing demand for healthy seafood here in the Britain and beyond, whilst also ensuring the associated economic and social benefits of our business are shared here.”