H Forman and Son, the last of the East End of London smoked salmon companies, is on the verge of securing the prestigious PGI – Protected Geographical Indicator – status from the European Union, writes Jenni Frazer.
PGI is a fiercely prized benchmark awarded to food produce such as Champagne, which can only be designated as such if it comes from that particular region. In H Forman’s case, the mark would be awarded to its gourmet smoked salmon, which also has Beth Din approval, for its London Cure processing method.
Lance Forman, the company’s managing director, who is the fourth generation of his family to run the business, said this week: “We have UK government approval and it is now sitting with the EU. We expect everything to be tied up by Easter. It will be the first such award for a London-based food or drink product.”
The London Cure – used by the company since its founding in 1905 – relies solely on salting and smoking on plain oak logs. Nothing is added during the smoking process and, says Forman, its freshness – all the Forman salmon comes from Scotland – is a major part of what gives it its delicate flavour.
Forman, a long-standing member of Conservative Friends of Israel, said that he hoped to extend Beth Din approval for some of the company’s other kosher fish products, and is keen, given the upsurge in food appreciation in Israel, to find a partner who will import his product there. “Chefs in Israel love our smoked salmon, but we’re not selling on price, we’re selling on quality,” he says.
“The frustrating thing is that we export to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan – but not Israel. And everyone says the smoked salmon you get in Israel is junk. But I think we’re very close to getting a distributor.”