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The Tide is High

It is clear “sale-ing” in the seafood department for the foreseeable future.


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Retailers that dove into 2016 Seafood Expo North America in Boston last month emerged with nets full of new products as well as merchandising ideas to improve the sales and profitability of their fresh and frozen cases. More than 1,240 exhibitors set up booths at the March convention, held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center—making it the largest event in show history. 

Thanks to innovative packaging developments, the entire seafood department is on the cusp of a revolution, show-goers stopping by the Sealed Air booth learned. “There is a big trend toward fresh and visibility because people want authentic and to be able to see what they’ve got,” said Kari Dawson-Ekeland, director of marketing, center of store food care, for Duncan, S.C.-based Sealed Air. The Cryovac 10-K film offers seafood purveyors a semi-rigid flexible back covered with clear film that is easy to display and stack. “It gives the consumer the ultimate visibility and authenticity. With the 10-K film the fish smells like it is right out of the water. It smells fresh, feels fresh and is fresh.”

Officials from The Saucy Fish Co. came all the way across the pond from England to talk about their growing line of fresh, refrigerated value-added fish products that are stocked in a growing number of retailers including Whole Foods and Publix. New ready-to-eat products include Sticky Maple Sauce with Smoked & Roasted Salmon, a flavor that is exclusive to the U.S. “Our chilled product is really clean with no artificial flavors or colors in the sauces,” said Paul Macis, international & business development manager for Icelandic Seachill/The Saucy Fish Co. 

Clear Springs Foods heated up the convention floor with its new Harissa Crusted Rainbow Trout and Mustard Pretzel Crusted Rainbow Trout; both can be baked or fried for simple preparation. “All of our trout are farm-raised in Idaho and we do 25–30 million pounds per year in domestic production,” said Nick Bahr, western foodservice regional manager for Clear Spring Foods, based in Buhl, Idaho. 

Matlaw’s came out of its shell by unveiling its new seven SKU Big Bag Value Line of frozen breaded seafood products, including Shrimp Jalapeño Mac N Cheese Bites, Calamari Bites and Popcorn Shrimp. “This is something that is really new and different in the category using on-trend flavors, variety that appeals to different markets and a clear see-through bag so the customer can see the value of what she is getting,” said Nancy Peterson, vice president of marketing, at Gloucester, Mass.-based National Fish & Seafood, maker of the Matlaw’s brand.  

Oven-ready easiness drew retailers to Beaver Street Fisheries, manufacturer of the Sea Best brand, where panko breaded tilapia loins and bacon breaded scallops offer consumers fried seafood taste—without the frying. 

“Our typical breaded line is deep-fried, but our research shows consumers want something they can put in the oven that still has a good crunch,” said Bluzette Carline, marketing director at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Beaver Street Fisheries. “We worked with our partners for our breadings and these two are winners so we are rolling them out.”

Tilapia is one of the most popular items in the seafood case. Officials with Regal Springs touted their tilapia as superior to the others because it is farmed in deep, natural lakes in Honduras, Mexico and Indonesia, 100 percent vertically integrated from egg to plate, 100 percent traceable and because Regal Springs improves the communities where its facilities are located.    

“We work in both fresh and frozen, as well as a retail bag. We are working on getting that into grocery stores because up until now there hasn’t been a great presence of tilapia other than fresh,” said Pam Hietalati, key account manager, at Regal Springs USA, based in Miramar, Fla. 

Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada-based Clearwater touted its 40th anniversary and introduced Macduff Shellfish, a Scottish supplier of Norway Lobster, Whelk and Rock Crab, that it acquired in late 2015.    

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