Sea Chips: the startup making taste from salmon waste

The young entrepreneurs are making waves with their first-to-market salmon crisps.

“We would ring fishmongers, who were a bit confused, as they would normally throw it away, and we would ask them if they had any salmon skin,” says Dan Pawson.

Founder and former chef, Dan Pawson.

Despite raising a few eyebrows, the 25-year-old former chef is onto something though. The nutrient packed dried salmon skins are for his brand of health snacks, Sea Chips. More than half of all seafood caught in the UK gets thrown away as offcuts.

The company which is billed as “UK’s first handcrafted salmon skin crisps” uses waste salmon skin – high in protein and omega-3 fats. And it’s not just that it’s a tasty new pub snack, it just makes environmental sense, considering that the UK wastes a huge amount of seafood, 492,020 tonnes a year to be exact, according to the Sea Fish Industry Authority.

“The idea behind it was that I used to be chef, (business partner and co-founder) Dom was an accountant and we used to serve up the skin and garnish it, which went down really well with customers. Which encouraged us to bag it up,” Pawson told SalmonBusiness.

Staple snack
“The more you eat skin the less you waste, so we thought, could you eat our way to solving a global problem? It’s also really nutritional. In Thailand it’s a staple snack,” he added.

The product comes in three pub flavour staples ready to rival the humble pork scratching: lightly salted, salt and vinegar and lime and chilli. And despite only being officially launched in June (after working on the project for six months before) it’s stocked in Whole Foods, Fenwick and the upscale London store, Harrods.

“We’ve actually never approached a retailer. They have all come to us. And we sell out each month,” says Pawson.

No one knew how
Mr Pawson says that they had some issues outsourcing the production ie No one knew in the industry knew how to do it.

“It’s a lengthy process and it’s hard to make crisps like that on scale. No one knew how to. And we couldn’t outsource it to crisp manufacturers, as it wasn’t a vegetable product,” he added.

Secret partner
Luckily, word got out about Sea Chips and now they have the backing of a significantly ‘well known” figure in the industry. “He messaged us on Instagram!” says Pawson.

The secret new partner (who will be revealed in a few weeks) owns a lot of smoked salmon brands – spotting a big opportunity in the young duo and providing them their own in house production facility with state of the art bespoke equipment and cash injection.

“Thanks to our partner, we now have the capacity to produce 200,000 standard-size crisp bags a week.”

The company donate a 10 percent cut of profits to organisations and charities who are actively helping to clean up seas and oceans. SalmonBusiness asked whilst a noble cause, is this a slightly risky pledge to take at such an early stage of the business?

“We do it because we want to represent what a modern day business should represent. We are product focused but ethically-led so it allows us to make important decisions quickly as we have such a strong mission,” assured Pawson.

Sea Chips aim to export to Denmark after spotting a “huge” demand for the Scandinavian market. They are also in talks to stock at some major retailers at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019.


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