SCOTLAND’S food and drink sector has seen record-breaking growth year on year – in the first three months of 2017 alone food and drink worth £1.2 billion was exported, up £124 million (11 per cent) on the same period last year.

The government’s goal, to double turnover in the sector to reach £30bn by 2030, is not only good for food and drink businesses, but for companies that supply the sector.

They include CuanTec, a blue biotech company taking a circular economy approach to food waste within the fisheries industry by creating an antimicrobial food wrapping that will extend the shelf life of fresh seafood. Every year, the UK retail and manufacturing sectors lose £2bn due to food waste and spoilage costs the seafood industry many millions of pounds per year due to spoilage.

Made from the shells of langoustines, the food wrapping is a bioplastic and therefore reduces landfill, not only from re-purposing its raw materials but because it goes to compost too. It’s this innovation that saw the company win a £150,000 Higgs Edge award last week.

CEO Dr Cait Murray-Green said the standing Scottish produce currently enjoys influenced CuanTec’s decision to choose a food packaging product their first project, over the other options they could have pursued.

“The push towards elimination of petroleum plastic from the food chain across Europe has created a void in the market,” she said. “This allowed us to create a food contact material which is anti-microbial, biodegradable and compostable and for this to be a first to market in the bioplastic food wrapping sector.”

CuanTec is focused on circular-economy approaches to the reduction of food waste and spoilage in the food chain, which means integrating with the fisheries and seafood industries at all points of the business.

Murray-Green added: “Forming close collaborations with the fish processors to gain access in a sustainable fashion to our raw material, creating high-quality salmon feed (organic and containing natural colourants) from CuanTec by-products, assisting fisheries with products to remove the preservative sodium metabisulphite from the food chain and then also providing a sustainable, eco-friendly food contact material (FCM) which will perhaps double shelf-life for fresh seafood, will reduce significantly the waste from the industry and the waste from domestic fridges.

“We are searching for and establishing relationships with Scottish companies in the food and drink sector. That is key to taking CuanTec forward. It is a true circular economy example, as our suppliers can also be our customers.”

With significant support available for the food and drink industry, Murray-Green says Scotland is an ideal place to set up a company. She said: “It’s actually hard to see what is missing except, perhaps, for more investors being interested in the green economy opportunities for businesses such as ourselves.”

Michelle Rodger is a communications consultant