Call of the sea

International Boston Seafood Show attendees will be lured by exhibitors featuring new products and marketing programs.

Attending the International Boston Seafood Show at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center this month? Better pack some comfortable shoes, a couple of notepads and a jar of tartar sauce because this year’s show is shaping up to be an educational and gastronomical hit.

That tartar sauce will come in handy at the LaMonica Fine Foods booth. The Millville, N.J.-based manufacturer of clam products will once again be sampling its breaded clam strips. “We will also be sampling our scungilli salad and clam pizza,” says Stephen A. Schwartz, regional sales manager. “We get such a turnout of people at our booth because of that pizza. Everybody is always sampling salmon and shrimp, salmon and shrimp, and then they come by us and see that we have pizza and sometimes even cannoli and ice cream and it draws them in.”

Schwartz says LaMonica makes the clam pizzas specifically for the show and does not sell them at retail, adding to their cache. He adds that LaMonica clams are different from others on the market because they are hand-shucked. “Most are steam-shucked,” he says. “It is very rare that you will find a company willing to go back to the old ways, but we have 40 or 50 guys come in at 4:30 in the morning to work as clam shuckers.”

Over at Booth 1533, conventioneers can sample the latest trout offerings from Clear Springs Foods, including the Rainbow Trout Burger. “It is milder than all the salmon burgers that are out there,” says Alan J. Kahn, vice president, marketing at Buhl, Idaho-based Clear Springs. “It is made from a very sustainable source: rainbow trout from our farms in Idaho. It is a 4-ounce patty that perfectly fits a 4-inch bun, and the flavoring is Southwest with just a touch of jalapeño.”

Clear Springs will also have Ruby Red Trout on display. “It is farmed on Lake Titicaca in Peru,” Kahn says. “We are entering into a business alliance with a Peruvian company to bring Ruby Red filets and butterfly filets into the U.S.”

Many seafood buyers will have questions about recent news reports concerning the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) Responsible Fisheries Management Certification Program. For answers, stop by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (Booth #433), where officials are eager to answer all questions.

“You can learn about how we at ASMI can help you with your promotion of all Alaska seafood at retail and foodservice,” says Larry Andrews, retail marketing director in ASMI’s Domestic Marketing Division, headquartered in Seattle.

Andrews says Alaska adheres to the strictest of sustainability guidelines—it is even written into the state constitution. “There has been a lot of trade press lately that has left folks at the very least confused,” Andrews says. “I don’t think that anybody clearly knows enough about the program. And as important as this is to retailers globally, they have the opportunity to come in, sit down, ask questions and simply see the robustness of our program.”

Backed by a major advertising program, courtesy of BP, Louisiana will be touting shrimp, oysters, finfish and alligator at its pavilion this year. “For the first time, this year we will have five vendors with us who will be selling out of our booth,” says Ewell Smith, executive director, Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, based in New Orleans. “This is something that we’ve wanted to do for a while. We’ve always wanted the vendors to be able to sell out of our booth because then they have measurable results as well.”

While at the Louisiana booth attendees may run into Joanne McNeely or one of her team members. McNeely is the seafood marketing coordinator with the Gulf Coast Seafood Marketing Coalition, based in Tampa, Fla. The coalition was formed in March 2011 through a grant from Congress to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, and is funded by BP, as a result of settlements from the oil company’s 2010 Gulf oil spill.

McNeely says the coalition represents all facets of the Gulf seafood industry, including fishermen, wholesalers, distributors, restaurants, retailers, charter boats, small seafood markets, chefs and tourism. Coalition members will be at the show learning how they can sell more seafood to retailers and touting the benefits of the domestic Gulf industry.

“We did 28 in-depth interviews with grocery stores, restaurants and distributors to find out what their customers are saying,” McNeely says. “We reached out to Bruno’s, H-E-B, which is also in our coalition, Marsh Supermarkets, King Soopers, Save-A-Lot, Supervalu, Sysco, Wegmans, Whole Foods and Winn-Dixie. They told us they are seeing a strong demand for local and seasonal products and that they are expanding their value-added offerings.”

The coalition did not want to compete with the state associations, that is why it will not have its own booth, McNeely says. Retailers can look for members at the Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama pavilions.

2012 marks the first year that Alabama will be exhibiting at the show. “Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently established the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission and we are working very hard to put together a brand for Alabama Gulf Seafood, which we are planning on launching in late spring/early summer,” says Chris Blankenship, director, Alabama Marine Resources Division, based in Dauphin Island, Ala.

Blankenship says commission member Chris Nelson will be a representative on a panel discussion on March 12 at 3:30 to discuss the Gulf of Mexico Seafood Marketing Coalition. “Our team will be at the show meeting and forging relationships with people in the industry,” Blankenship says. “We will be sharing the booth with the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama. We also have a contestant in the oyster shucking contest that we are very excited about because Alabama is the largest processor of oysters in the U.S.”

Interested in finding the freshest salmon? There is an app for that and conventioneers can see it demonstrated at Copper River Salmon (Booth #1655). “We’ll be featuring a newly designed booth as well as a Copper River spice rub giveaway for everyone who comes by the booth,” says Beth Poole, executive director of the Cordova, Alaska-based Copper River/PWS Marketing Association. “We’ll also have a new slideshow of Copper River fishery images and we’ll be handing out recipe cards, and information on this season’s forecast and availability.”

Poole says one of the most common consumer questions asked the association is, “Where can I find Copper River salmon near me?”

“The Copper River Salmon Locator app gives them a tool to find and tag Copper River Salmon at retailers and restaurants,” Poole says. “This is an opportunity for retailers to add their locations to the app so customers know they carry Copper River Salmon.”

Kwik’ Pak Fisheries will also once again have a booth at the show where it will be sampling its smoked salmon products, including cold smoked Yukon Keita Strips and Keita Candy, with a brown sugar rub. “We will also be featuring our fresh filets, which are frozen this time of year and we’ll be sampling that as well,” says Ruth Carter, head of marketing and sales for the Anchorage, Alaska-based company. “Our frozen fish is ideal if you want to keep it for a future meal,” she adds.

Look for smoked salmon to also be sampled at the Acme Smoked Fish Corp. booth. Under its Ruby Bay line it will be featuring Ruby Bay Salmon Jerky in Teriyaki and Pepper flavors. “Under our Acme brand we are introducing a Smoked Salmon Sauce, a sweet mustard dill sauce that pairs well with salmon and is layered on top to complement the smoked salmon experience. It can also be used as a cooking sauce,” says Buzz Billik, vice president, sales and marketing for the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based firm.

He will also be talking about Acme’s partnership with Verlaso, a salmon from Chile, farm-raised off the coast of Patagonia. These fish are fed a diet of omega-3 derived from yeast that results in a fish that takes only one pound of feed to raise one pound of salmon, compared to the conventional 4 pounds or more of feeder fish to yield one pound.

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