International Seafood Ventures, one of the largest suppliers of king crab to the U.S. retail market, has formed a strategic alliance with Frequentz Inc. to strengthen its supply chain transparency efforts. The crab industry has been under heightened scrutiny due to the increased reporting of illegally caught seafood entering the U.S. market. The presidential task force assigned to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing has also identified the king crab imports industry as a clear and present offender. While many companies are trying to distance themselves from the negative publicity, International Seafood Ventures is taking the issue on full steam ahead.
“We enlisted the help of Frequentz and their traceability solution to demonstrate without a doubt to our customers that our king crab is legitimately caught,” says Stuart Kozloff, International Seafood Ventures President. “It is important for our customers to know we take a responsible approach to our seafood sourcing, and Frequentz’s traceability solution provides that extra layer of assurance, not only for our king crab, but our whole Asian, Arctic and Aqua Chef Line of products. In today’s market we need to be responsive to our customers’ requests and by enlisting Frequentz’s assistance, we feel we can accomplish the important goal of confirming our sustainability claims to these strategic alliance customers.”
With close to 90 percent of all seafood sold in the U.S. coming from imports, supply chain transparency is the only way to assure consumers that what they are being sold isn’t a wild fish tale. Frequentz’s technology also has applications beyond seafood, as consumer demands are driving supply chains to be more forthcoming. Consumers want to have enough information to make a responsible buying decision, whether that is based on sustainability of the species or some other driving factor. Frequentz assists these industries by offering comprehensive traceability, serialization and information management technologies that promote intelligent analytics and consumer safety.
There was much anticipation going into the 2015 Bristol Bay sockeye season this year, with some 54 million sockeye salmon forecasted to return. While the final return of sockeye may fall just short of the pre-season forecast, the 2015 sockeye season was a historic one, with a much higher than average return and a surprisingly late, long run. As of July 26, 51 millon sockeye salmon returned to Bristol Bay with 35 million of those fish harvested. The peak of Bristol Bay’s run came in about 10 days later than usual this year.
“The season started slow and there was a lot of nervousness on the water, but, as always, the salmon came swimming home on their own schedule. And when they finally did show up, they came by the tens of millions! We had a few rough weather days, but it was an unusually sunny season with lots of rainbows and beautiful sunsets, and the best news is that we have plenty of sockeye for our customers,” said Jason McKinley, Bristol Bay Fisherman and Owner of Caught Wild Salmon.
Unusually late timing of the salmon’s return kept fishery managers, fishermen, and seafood processors on their toes as they waited to see how things would play out. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game kept a close eye on in-season fish numbers and managed fishing efforts day-by-day to ensure that escapement targets were met in all the Bay’s major rivers.
This year’s huge return is good news for chefs and other seafood buyers who source Bristol Bay sockeye and depend on its consistently abundant runs and year-round availability. Because the majority of Bristol Bay sockeye is flash frozen during the peak of the fishing season, late July and August signal the real start of the Bristol Bay salmon season for consumers.
“When you’re dealing with a wild food like sockeye salmon, you never know what’s going to happen. That’s part of the beauty of it and what makes it so special,” said William Dissen, Chef and Owner of The Market Place in Asheville, North Carolina. “I’ve served Bristol Bay sockeye in my restaurant for the past few years and am thrilled to once again be able to provide it to our customers who’ve come to expect it on our menu.”
Others in the marketplace are also pleased with this season’s sockeye return, including the national company Plated, which features Bristol Bay sockeye salmon as part of its meal-delivery menu. “Being able to source and provide Bristol Bay sockeye to our customers is an important part of who we are as a company, and key to our commitment to purchasing sustainable, healthy protein,” said Keith Lydon, Vice President of Operations at Plated.
Consumers around the country can now purchase Bristol Bay sockeye directly from fishermen through Community Supported Fisheries, farmers markets, and buying clubs. A list of Bristol Bay sockeye suppliers can be found at www.bristolbaysockeye.org.
Salmon Brands of Oslo, Norway was awarded the top prize in the 15th annual Seafood Prix d’Elite new products competition at Seafood Expo Global. The winner was selected from a field of 37 finalists and was announced this evening at a special Seafood Prix d’Elite reception.
The top award for best new retail product was given to Salmon Brands for its entry, Salmaraw. This ready-to-eat sashimi kit provides 90 grams of fresh salmon sashimi with sachets of ponzu sauce and sesame seeds, and a specially designed eating utensil. The product is presented in a unique airtight and leak-proof pack that beautifully displays and preserves the high quality of the salmon. The judges particularly noted that this product was very well conceived and executed from start to finish.
In addition to the grand prize, the judges also gave five special awards:
Salmaraw from Salmon Brands was also presented the Seafood Prix d’Elite special award for Originality. The presentation of the salmon sashimi kit in a long tray is unique and elegant, yet still allows the consumer to eat the product directly from the package. This combination makes it well positioned for consumers who are looking for healthy take-away meals.
The Seafood Prix d’Elite special prize for Health & Nutrition was awarded to Marine Harvest of Brugge, Belgium for its product, Duo Norvégien au Four. The naturally healthy combination of cod wrapped in a thin slice of salmon is packed in an oven-ready aluminum tray and gives the consumer an easy way to serve an elegant seafood preparation at home.
The Big Prawn Company of Melton Constable, England in the United Kingdom was awarded the Seafood Prix d’Elite special award for Convenience for its product Seafood Rarebit. A seafood take on a classic Welsh dish, this frozen retail product offers two pastry cases filled with king prawns and topped with a sauce flavored with English cheddar cheese, mustard and spices. The topping melts down over the prawns and into the pastry during cooking. Perfect for a light lunch or part of a main meal, the product offers consumers a new, easy way to enjoy seafood.
The Big Prawn Company was also presented the Seafood Prix d’Elite special award for Retail Packaging for its product, 2 Crayfish Thermidor Bakes. Designed for special holiday occasions, this product features twin ramekins filled with crayfish tails in a creamy thermidor sauce flavored with white wine, shallots and mustard, then topped with a ciabatta Grand Padano cheese breadcrumb. The package is elegantly designed with full-color photos of the prepared dish and a clear window to see the ramekins, which are covered with clear plastic domes. The package provides complete information for the consumer on nutrition, ingredients, product origin, preparation, and package disposal.
Rockabill Shellfish Limited of Balbriggan, Ireland was presented with the Seafood Prix d’Elite special award for Seafood Product Line for its “Something Fishy” line of seafood infused butters. Offered in Sweet Onion, Dulse and Asian Infusion flavors, the products combine Irish butter with freeze-dried and milled seafood protein, dried seaweed and seasonings. The result is a culinary butter that provides the savory deliciousness of umami to both enhance and complete the flavors of prepared dishes. The products can be used to flavor sauces, finish risottos, pastas and rice dishes, or to spread over seafood before or after cooking.
At the discretion of the judges an award was not given this year for best new foodservice product. Although the judges noted some positive aspects of the products entered in the category, they felt that in many cases the information provided by entrants was incomplete, and therefore it was not possible to choose an overall winner in the category.
The winners of the 2015 Seafood Prix d’Elite were chosen from a field of 37 finalists representing 11 countries. The winners and finalists are on display at Hall 11, Stand 2501 at Seafood Expo Global and Seafood Processing Global, which runs now through April 23.
The judges for the 2015 Seafood Prix d’Elite new products competition were Debby Verheyen, Seafood Product Expert for Delhaize Supermarkets in Belgium; Thibault Faucon, Supply Chain Manager for Sodexo in Luxemburg; Filip Keersmaekers, Seafood Category Manager for Makro & Metro Cash & carry in Belgium; Ian Nottage, Chef Director with Reynold’s Catering Supply in the UK; and Dominique Fenech, National Director of Seafood Purchasing for Monoprix in France. Ms. Verheyen served as chairperson of the jury.
The Seafood Prix d’Elite finalists were judged on taste and overall eating experience, packaging, marketability, convenience, nutritional value and originality. The judges’ scores were verified by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young.