The co-founder of the UK start-up, Daniel Pawson, said he got the idea for the product when he and fellow co-founder were working in restaurants.
“We saw the amount of waste being thrown away and so instead of throwing the skin away, we decided to dehydrate it and bake it, using it as a garnish for dishes. Customers would love it so much they asked us if we could bag it up for them so they could take it home.
“Once we looked into it, we saw the popularity of them in Asia due to their health benefits and it turned out the majority of fishmongers threw these nutritious skins out.”
In keeping with its aim to do business sustainably, SeaChips also donates 10% of its profits to charities and projects, such as Ocean CleanUp, that are actively cleaning up the sea as well as organising its own beach clean-ups with the public.
Pawson describes the chips as very thin, light and slightly curved with a similar texture to prawn crackers.
The skins are washed and boiled before cooking which removes any “overly fishy” taste, and are available in three flavours: lightly salted; salt & vinegar and lime & vinegar.
The chips contain more than one third protein and half fat.
“They’re incredibly high in protein at 39.1 g per 100 g and this is going to go up as we modify our cooking process to retain even more nutrients. We are also high in omega-3, and we contain those all important fish fats as well as having zero carbs,” he told FoodNavigator.
A look at the ingredient list
Salmon skin (salmo salar), sea salt, Santa Cruz chilli blend (lime skin, chilli, cumin, salt, oregano, garlic powder, garlic, onion, red pepper, crushed chillies, tomato, jalapeno chilli), rapeseed oil
So far, overcoming the ‘yuck’ factor hasn’t been much of a challenge, Pawson said.
“It’s an easy sell for now as people are very curious. As long as you like salmon skin in general or have no problem with fish then most people love them.”
Pawson sees SeaChips as an alternative to traditional British pub snack pork scratchings, made of roasted or fried pork rind, or a healthy alternative to potato crisps.
“Some people do find them off putting but, to use the pork scratching analogy again, fish skins are very clean and nutritious whereas we seem to have no problem eating healthy pig skin which rolls around in mud all day!”
Major investment to be announced
Since receiving a cash injection of £250,000 (€278,000), it has built a tailor-made machinery to upscale and speed up processing which will allow it to increase its current capacity of a few thousand packets a month.
SeaChips launched last year with just a few specialist food outlets (Whole Foods, Harrods and Fenwick) and it has inked deals to stock “major retailers” at the end of the year and start of 2019.
It also has its sights set on export markets where customers tastes are “perhaps more open” and will shortly be announcing details of a major investment from "a very well known food industry player" very soon, Pawlson added.
After earmarking China, Australia and France as potential markets, the company found itself the case study as part of three Scandinavian students undergraduate degree, which identified huge demand for the product in Scandinavia.
One pack retails for between £1.60-1.99 (€1.78 – 2.20) but, as output increases, this will drop to around £1.20-30 (€1.33 – 1.45).