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Stunning shows!

Ace Aquatec
June 30, 2022
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With the conference and exhibition season back in full swing after a two-year Covid enforced gap, suppliers throughout the aquaculture and wider fisheries and seafood sectors are rediscovering the benefits of face-to-face encounters with customers.


Ace Aquatec has hit the ground running since shows began to re-open, with a redesigned stand featuring AR (augmented reality) displays of its products. The company’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Tara McGregor-Woodhams, who was in Boston for the Seafood North America (SENA) expo and in Aviemore, Scotland, for Aquaculture UK, said visitors to the Ace Aquatec stand at both shows were able to see 3D printed models of their smolt stunner come to life using the new app. ‘Everyone at the show loved our interactive AR products because they could see the actual size of the equipment and how that could fit in their operation. The models are a game changer as they allow us to showcase the product features and demonstrate how the system works in a really engaging way’ she said. ‘Our sales team now take these to client presentation and on initial site visits so farmers can really visualise how the stunner works in situ.’


Covid has also brought a significant shift in attitudes towards humane slaughter, McGregor-Woodhams believes, and pushed welfare considerations to the top of the agenda in purchasing decisions.


‘A lot of the companies coming to see us had changed their minds about welfare and stunning. Many of them told us that they had looked at percussive stunning, but it did not meet the Instantaneous, irrecoverable, insensible test every time, so in-water electric stunning was now the best alternative’.


‘I kept hearing people who visited our stand say that even without changes in the legislation, they were relooking at their set-up and management systems, so they were welfare first at every touch point. We have many customers like Scottish Sea Farms, Sanford, Selcoth Fisheries and Musholm, who were early trend setters looking for improvements in slaughter effectiveness and quality enhancements over existing methods. These companies are leading the way in harvesting best practice, so it was great to be able to reference how we have worked with them and the positive effect our stunners have had on their businesses’.


Ace Aquatec has pioneered humane slaughtering in the aquaculture sector with its in-water electric Humane Stunner Universal (HSU), and McGregor-Woodhams said the level of enquiries seen during recent exhibitions is testament to the company’s reputation for innovation.


‘Over the course of the Boston, Barcelona and Aviemore shows, we made around 150 contacts all of whom had already done their homework on our system and wanted meetings post show. Mediterranean customers were looking at installing in-water stunners for sea bass on board boats, and several requests came from tilapia producers, from the US to Mexico (where Ace has been conducting trials with Regal Springs) to South America.


Ace Aquatec also reported increased interest in its smolt stunner, a self-contained, transportable system for humanely culling juvenile fish without the need for anaesthetics. Based on the same in-water stunning technology as the HSU, the smolt stunner can help convert a waste by-product into a valuable new food source.


As McGregor-Woodhams explained: ‘Customers were telling us that they were looking ways to access new markets and improve ESG credentials. Many were investigating the potential in the niche pet food market – where we have seen a massive uplift post-Covid - and in fish oil. Our culling system used by a number of clients in Scotland, New Zealand and Norway not only enable them to access new markets, but also to improve supply chain efficiency, and reduce their environmental impact, all while contributing to the circular economy.’


The first half of 2022 has been something of a whirlwind for the sector, making up for time lost during the pandemic. For Ace Aquatec, is has been a ‘very productive’ few months, said McGregor-Woodhams, and the company, which already has offices in four countries, has now extended its team of international partners.


‘Everyone was very pleased to be back meeting people and, with the return to in-person networking, we have been able to expand our global reach even further. Covid has made people go a bit more local, and to have a strong local footprint, you need to work with partners on the ground.


‘We don’t have sales reps in all the markets we’re now active in, but we are focused on finding preferred suppliers in the right time zones who can get kit to sites quickly – such as our newly appointed distributor in the Asia Pacific region, Fresh by Design.


‘Thanks to our presence at the international fairs in the spring, and our planned attendance at expos in the months ahead, we are building new partnership models across the world.’

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