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Catch of the Day: Seafood Souq’s digital-first foray

Sean Dennis, CEO and co-founder of Seafood Souq, tells us more about the digital platform and its innovative offerings.

Tell us a bit more about Seafood Souq.
Seafood Souq is a technology company focused on supply chain digitisation for the seafood industry, providing an online marketplace to streamline the procurement/sales process, as well as full traceability to prove the provenance of the fish.

My co-founder, Sheikh Fahim al Qasimi and I, started this company out of a mutual love for the ocean and our belief in the fact that there had to be a better and more sustainable way forward for the seafood industry.

As a life-long entrepreneur, my background has always been in technology and so I looked to the efficiencies it could bring to the seafood supply chain.

Has COVID-19 given rise to more businesses digitising the supply chain? Why do you think that is?
COVID-19 has encouraged many businesses within the supply chain space to further explore digitisation. However, it’s not a simple task, particularly for a legacy business that had already established those lines of trade, and so may be more reliant on a single-source market.

In light of recent events, this has proven to carry a high risk to our food security; as we’ve seen from the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it can cripple production, cancel flights, and close borders – businesses need to be able to adapt.

It’s clear that, to safeguard the industry and minimise disruption to food security, we need to rethink, redesign and harness technology to strengthen our supply chains; innovation and technology are key.

Digitisation will allow a business to become risk competitive, eliminating the unnecessary steps in the supply chain that too often cause the most tension in difficult climates. 

During the peak of the global pandemic, Seafood Souq was able to quickly pivot and utilise multiple source markets to satisfy both business and consumer demand for seafood products with complete supply chain traceability at a time when it’s more vital than ever.

What differentiates your offerings from others on the market?
The Seafood Souq platform provides businesses with an online marketplace to order directly from the source, giving them the choice of multiple supplier options for seafood products which can be filtered by price, harvest methods, country of origin and more to suit business needs.

Where Seafood Souq differs from many other players in the industry, is that not only do we provide a digitised supply chain with complete oversight (traceability), but this comes at no extra cost to the supplier or buyer (in fact, savings through efficiencies both in terms of time and money are seen).  

Through providing an online marketplace as the sales/procurement channel, there is an incentive on both sides to take part in the supply chain digitisation. It literally becomes a win-win for all involved, including the end consumer – although we’re a B2B operator.

Our business buyers are able to simplify procurement, operate with consistency in supply, gain access to a global marketplace of seafood products and sellers and ultimately pass on the traceability and increased quality and freshness of the product to their consumers.

Please tell us more about how you ensure traceability and value for money. 
We’re now working with a number of our buyers to provide traceability to their end consumers; we call this product SFS Trace – this includes our QR code being printed on product packaging, which will be in supermarkets across the UAE, as well as on restaurants menus, which is a very exciting next step for us in providing certified 100% traceable seafood to the region.

The end customers deserve to know, and want to know, about what they are eating: is it safe to eat, is it fresh, is it responsibly sourced? As one of the highest valued, most highly perishable items of food traded globally, this is particularly relevant for fresh seafood.

Through working closely with suppliers as they are onboarded onto Seafood Souq, we verify practices and certifications and make this information available to the buyer via seller profiles.

We then track in real-time, the journey of that product through the supply chain all the way to delivery (both location and temperature) through a combination of IoT enabled devices and flight/airway bill information made available to us through our partnership with Emirates SkyCargo.

Anything else you would like to add? 
Sustainability is at the core of our beliefs at Seafood Souq. When I hear figures in the region of 20-25% wastage of seafood within the supply chain (this is a global issue, not unique to any one region), it makes me want to stand up and do something about it.

We need a more efficient supply chain to minimise wastage and ensure food security; we need better data to limit the risk of over-fishing our oceans and we need to utilise the features this digitisation of the seafood supply chain provides to source responsibly and sustain food sources for future generations.

Through what the team at Seafood Souq have built, and continue to develop, we can address these issues and, in turn, our buyers can know that they are contributing to a more sustainable future, both in terms of ocean life, as well as cost savings for their business and a fresher product that they can prove the provenance of to their customers. 

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