A SMALL local food and drink business is set to bump up its production after securing a European fisheries grant worth £14,000.
The news comes shortly after Shetland Sea Salt was awarded one star at the national Great Taste Awards for its pure white flakes sea salt.
The awards, held in Wales this year, are the largest and most trusted accreditation scheme for small artisan food and drink producers and have been described as the Oscars of the food world.
Shetland Sea Salt is the brainchild of local chef Akshay Borges and Kaye Sandison, both from Scalloway.
Borges said being successful at the Great Taste awards was a massive boost for the budding business.
“We have been ecstatic about winning the one star award at our very first attempt and at such an early stage of the business,” he said.
“This award would confirm to our loyal customers that they are buying a bespoke product that is superior in quality.”
The Great Taste judging panel found the company’s sea salt to have a “marked, immediate salinity but an appealing, broach mineral spread across the palate”.
They went on to say that “there is good length to the mineralogy, and it’s a really pleasant effect. A pleasure to crumble between the fingers, too – easy to adjust application and salinity.”
So far the business has only been able to produce very small amounts of salt by working in food standard certified kitchens in local halls.
Seawater is collected a few miles away from shore, preferably near mussel farms where the water is filtered naturally, and then boiled before the salt is dried in an oven.
“This method is not practical for large amounts neither is it financially viable to our growing business as it is time-consuming and only limited amounts can be produced,” Borges said.
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund grant will help the entrepreneurs move into a refurbished shed in Scalloway and increase production, while they will also introduce squid ink salt and smoked salt.
“The money will help us build a permanent base for production to packaging using equipment such as a vacuum evaporator and hot lights, thereby increasing production considerably and reducing the time by less than half of the current production time,” Borges said.