What makes BNFS different? An Interview with BNFS director Matt Leach
Local food writer, Tom Flint of Food Booze and Reviews, approached our director Matt Leach for an interview about our business and what we do. Of course, we were more than happy to speak to Tom about BNFS and our passion for sustainable fishing and providing quality produce for local businesses and people. As a local food writer and reviewer Tom was aware of our business through our links with local restaurants and from visiting the shop at Hove lagoon.
As a supplier we play an important role in the local food scene, and Tom wanted to get to in touch to find out a little more about us. Chefs and restaurants attract a lot of press and media coverage as they are at the front line of the food scene. Suppliers are often the unsung heroes of the food and drink industry and Tom was keen to speak to us about what makes us different from our competition, and what it means to us to provide a service to local restaurants and individuals in Sussex.
Here’s what Tom and Matt had to talk about …
1) Tell me about the history of BNFS and what makes you stand out from your competition…
Brighton & Newhaven Fish Sales was started in the early 1980’s by local fisherman Peter Leach. Peter’s family have been fishermen and fish sellers for over 200 years in Brighton. Peter was unhappy with what he was getting for his catch and decided to see if he could ‘do a better job’. He was quickly successful in this and was soon selling catches on behalf of his friends and other fishermen.
BNFS stand out from the competition because:-
- it still operates on Peter’s founding principle of ‘putting the fisherman first!’
- Our company mantra is “quality and service”, and we work hard to adhere to this in everything we do.
- Having around 45 inshore fishing vessels landing to BNFS, the large majority being “day boats”, that land their fish to us within hours of capture, we can supply the quality fish and shellfish demanded by our discerning customers.
- we ensure that every fish landed to BNFS is done so within the nationally set catch limits and is therefore sustainable. We can do so by owning the fundamental building block of sustainability, quota.
- We are heavily involved in both local, national and international sustainability initiatives for future management of our marine resources.
2) Protecting these local waters is very important to your business. Could you tell me about your commitment to sustainable fishing and what that means for your customers?
Sustainability can be defined as the practice of ensuring the needs of today do not jeopardise or deplete the resources for future generations. It is a balancing act between protecting the marine environment and the pressures exerted upon it.
There are numerous rules and regulations surrounding the fishing industry aiming to achieve a sustainable future; one such example being quotas and catch limits set by the European Union in accordance with scientific evidence. Fish caught compliant with these regulations is sustainable.
Here at BNFS we are able to give our clients a guaranteed provenance that all fish purchased is caught within the quota limits set by the European Union and is therefore sustainable. BNFS is uniquely positioned as the only fish market in the UK to own fish quotas, hence we can truly guarantee that all the fish landed through our establishment is legally caught within all UK and European catch limit regulations and is therefore sustainable.
This guarantee of provenance is vital to our commitment to a sustainable future. It means that we have the ability to ensure that all vessels, both under and over 10 metre, landing to BNFS have sufficient quota of all species that they are landing, therefore we can be certain that this fish is 100% legal and caught in accordance with the “Total Allowable Catch” principal that is underpinned by scientific recommendation.
To our customers this means that they can be confident that the fish they purchase from BNFS is caught sustainably. This confidence of provenance allows our customers to use our fish, safe in the knowledge that future fish stocks are being properly managed.
3) You have forged links with many local restaurants, how important is it to you to have local restaurants using your fish?
At BNFS we want to show case everything that is great about our local fisherman and the wonderful seafood they harvest. To this end there is nothing better than having local chefs buying into providing the public with products sustainably harvested by the local fleet as well as the top-quality products we source from around the UK and the rest of the world.
4) With your shop at Hove Lagoon you also sell directly to the public. If someone has not visited you before what can they expect and why should they choose Fish over their local supermarket?
We pride ourselves with our quality and service. Our shop offers some of the freshest fish possible, straight off our inshore local boats. We have an informed team in our shop dedicated to helping the customer with their purchase. Not sure what to ask for or how to cook it? We are there to help and advise the customer on what to buy and we will even prepare it ready for your pan.
5) Have you seen changes in your customers habits over the years? Do you find that consumers are more adventurous and interested in produce than in the past?
Today people are a lot more adventurous with their cooking and they are influenced by wonderful cooking styles and ingredients from around the world. Years ago Sea Bass was considered pot bait and cuttle fish were just thrown back in the sea. Today with these world-wide influences they have become sort after by our customers. Provenance and quality have become high priorities for today’s discerning customers and BNFS can provide both.
6) How does it feel to be a part of the local food scene in Brighton and Hove at this time?
We are proud to do what we always have which is to get our fishermen the ‘best price’ for their catch. Nothing give us a thrill more than selling our great quality locally caught and sourced products to our discerning local customers.
The Brighton and Hove area has a vibrant and diverse food culture and we are excited to be at the heart of quality fish supply to this area.