Setting sail

Buyers dropping anchor at this month’s International Boston Seafood Show will be hauling back a ton of new merchandising ideas.

A record haul of visitors are expected to attend this year’s International Boston Seafood Show, held March 10-12 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. There they will navigate dozens of aisles full of the latest seafood products, merchandising tips and equipment innovation from hundreds of exhibitors from around the world.

Clearwater-Bacon-Wrapped-ScallopsMany exhibitors are stepping up their booths to handle the ever-growing crowds.
“We’ve been at Boston for a few years now, and we’ve enlarged our footprint at the show because we recognize that it is not just about meeting potential new customers, but meeting our existing customers too,” says Dan Evans, senior marketing manager, new products, for Clearwater Seafoods, based in Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada. This year, Clearwater’s booth will contain a private meeting room, and a corporate chef who will prepare the company’s famous scallops and other seafoods for buyers meeting with the sales team.

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board has repositioned its booth to make it more conducive to business. “We will have an upper level deck so our industry members can use it for private meetings,” says Ewell Smith, executive director of the New Orleans-based association. Here is what to expect at a few of the more popular booths.

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute Booth 433
Thin is in this year at the Alaska booth, as the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) will be showcasing the healthier aspects of seafood.

“We’re working with smaller portions, if you will, and overall healthier preparations,” says Larry Andrews, retail marketing director for Juneau, Alaska-based ASMI’s Seattle office. “We’re concentrating on health even more than in the past, with suggestions of side dishes. We’re going to provide a more well-rounded meal solution for consumers, as well as some really interesting things from an entertaining standpoint,” he says, adding that retailers can also learn about upcoming promotions for both white fish and salmon.
Visitors to the booth will also learn about tweet decks for use on Twitter and videos.
“We’re creating more video files, which I think are interesting as retailers are trying to find content to populate their websites,” Andrews says. “They may even want to use some of these in-store, where they can meet an Alaskan fisherman and understand how our fisheries are managed. We are also still working with retailers to help them with custom promotions.”

Trident Seafoods Corp. Booth 805
Trident Seafoods Corp. is featuring a new and bigger booth this year. The extra space is needed to showcase the Seattle-based company’s new Pub House Golden Ale craft beer battered seafood line, which is primarily for foodservice but can also be sold at in-store delis.

“It is a craft-brewed beer approach and expands our product line,” says Randy Eronimous, vice president, marketing. “We are very well-known for battered and breaded seafood in cod and Pollack and we are expanding this line into haddock, Atlantic cod and we are doing a beer-battered shrimp for the first time.”

On the retail side of Trident’s booth conventioneers can sample the company’s new 4-ounce smoked salmon. “We’ve been in smoked salmon for a long time, but we now have a sea salt smoked salmon,” Eronimous says. “Not only is sea salt on-trend, but it is reduced sodium, so there is a pretty significant reduction in the sodium content.”

Key buyers will also get to sample Louis Kemp brand surimi imitation crabmeat. “Over the last year we went through a complete redesign of the product. We have new packaging that is resealable with new contemporary and lighter graphics, and we reformulated the product. Extensive consumer testing shows it has a clear preference over our old formula,” he says.

Harvest Select Booth 812
American catfish is the theme that Uniontown, Ala.-based Harvest Select is promoting this year. “We think people want to buy American products and that is what we are promoting ourselves as,” says George Norris, marketing director. “We are homegrown, locally farmed, U.S. farm-raised, and that is how we are going into the show—as a true American product.”

Harvest Select catfish is available both fresh and frozen.

“We distribute throughout the country,” Norris says. “We have a national distribution network of brokers that we deal with.”

Australis Aquaculture Booth 1051
To better showcase its line of seven steamable entrées, Australis Aquaculture has moved to a larger booth in a new location. The line, available in Mediterranean Seafood, Rosemary Parmesan, Seafood Penne, Seafood Teriyaki, Seafood Risotto, Seafood Pomodoro and Seafood Veracruz varieties, will be sampled. They are merchandised in 12-ounce bags with an internal paper pouch that is placed in the microwave oven, like popcorn, and is ready in seven minutes. Each entrée features Australis Aquaculture’s flagship barramundi fish, along with another protein, like shrimp or scallops, vegetables and rice or pasta.

“We kind of view the seafood space as having suffered from a bit of an innovation gap,” says Josh Goldman, CEO for the Turners Falls, Mass.-based company. “The fact is more consumers are still eating seafood outside of the home than in the home, reflecting the fact that not everybody is comfortable cooking seafood.”

An extra advantage is that the line can be merchandised both in the frozen seafood case and also the frozen dinners area. “We like to be in the seafood case because the customer is looking for seafood there and obviously it is a smaller universe,” Goldman says. “And traditional value-added seafood items have tended to be breaded or coated products, so this is a really different concept that is a complete meal with carbs and vegetables.”

Clearwater Seafoods Booth 1434
Housed in the Atlantic Canadian Pavilion, Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada-based Clearwater Seafoods will have a corporate chef preparing dishes for buyers who have made appointments with the sales team.

“This way we are able to showcase our products in different presentations because foremost we are a fishing company, a primary processor/harvester specializing in frozen-at-sea scallops, frozen-at-sea Argentine scallops, lobsters live and high-pressure processed, coldwater shrimps and Arctic surf clams,” says Dan Evans, senior marketing manager, new products.

Because of Nova Scotia’s proximity to Boston, Clearwater is able to send a large sales and operations team to enhance meetings with buyers. “We can literally go and grab someone from the booth and say this is the general manager of the division producing a particular product. What do you want to ask him? It is a really good cross-functional team approach to the show.”

A good question would be, “What can you tell me about Clearwater’s new products?” But allow lots of time for the answer.

“One of the things that our customers will see a little bit differently this year is that we are starting to dip our toe a little bit into the new products arena in terms of value-added products,” Evans says.

The Bacon-Wrapped Scallops that were a hit in Canada last year are making their way to U.S. shores—and stores—in 2013. “We’re going to be showing that product,” Evans says. “We also have a new concept called Scallops in Sauce that we are introducing at the show. We are using a specialized technology called enrobing where the scallops are mixed with sauce in a giant cement mixer-type contraption that is cooled with nitrogen.” The initial flavor is Garlic Cream.

Pacific Seafood Group Booth 1523
A burger at a seafood show? Sacrilege! Unless it is the new Starfish brand Shrimp Burger being launched and featured at the Pacific Seafood booth. “It is made with seven whole white shrimp per burger, so they are not minced with fillers,” says Bob O’Bryant, marketing director for the Clackamas, Ore.-based company.

Another featured item is the farmed Steelhead from the Columbia River. “Some people call it Steelhead Trout or Steelhead Salmon, depending on the nomenclature, but we just call it Columbia River Steelhead,” O’Bryant says. “We’re going to be showing a fresh and frozen product, as well as hot smoked and cold smoked versions.”

White and brown Gulf shrimp marketed under Pacific’s Gulf Coast Advantage brand will also be on display, along with West Coast coldwater shrimp.

National Fisheries Institute Booth 1865
Tangled up in the latest federal regulations? A visit to the National Fisheries Institute booth will cut you loose.

“For retailers, a visit to our booth is important because there are a number of things from regulatory, policy and trade standpoints that retailers offering seafood should be following, and NFI is really taking the lead on those issues,” says Gavin Gibbons, director of media relations for the McLean, Va.-based trade association. “Getting a sense outside the market on what’s happening in places like Washington that might actually affect sales or availability can really be key.”

Take shrimp, for example.

“There is a big countervailing duties case that was just filed against imported shrimp,” Gibbons says. “In the future that can have an impact on the market, price and availability of shrimp—and shrimp is the number-one seafood item.”

Shining Ocean Booth 1933
Be sure to save some room for the Shrimp & Seafood Salad being sampled at Shining Ocean. “It is coldwater shrimp and a high-grade surimi seafood mix that comes in a bag and the retailer just adds mayonnaise to it and sells it through the deli,” says Robert Bleu, president of the Sumner, Wash.-based company. “The coldwater shrimp are really tasty and it makes a nice sandwich. You can stuff half an avocado, a mushroom cap or put it in a burrito.”

Shining Ocean will also be featuring its Seafarer and Crab Smart Natural brands of surimi. “Crab Smart Natural has no artificial flavors, preservatives, sorbitol, phosphates or cane sugar,” Bleu says. “They actually meet the Whole Foods standard of ‘natural’ and Whole Foods sells them across the country.”

Sushi is also big at Shining Ocean. “We are the number-one producer of sushi sticks for real sushi restaurants in America,” Bleu says. “If retailers wanted to sell sushi sticks with seaweed and have a sushi kit at the store level that would be a cool idea.”

Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board Booth 2233
Retail buyers can meet directly with Louisiana’s seafood producers at the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board booth. “We will be having different vendors from our state selling different products,” says Ewell Smith, executive director of the New Orleans-based trade association. “We’re working on continuing to build our trade efforts, so this Boston show is going to be one of our bigger shows.”

Of course those products will be sampled at the booth.

“Our goal is to have eight vendors this year. Last year we had six,” Smith says.

Organized Seafood Association of Alabama Booth 2643
Anything and everything you wanted to know about Alabama seafood can be learned with one stop at the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama booth.

“We’re a nonprofit organization,” says Rosa Zirlott, manager of the Bayou La Barte, Ala.-based association. “We’re going to be there just talking to people about Alabama seafood, where they can get it, what is offered from here. We will be talking about our website,, that buyers can go to, to locate our processors and our boats directly.”


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