SeaFood Business

APR 2014

SeaFood Business is the global trusted authority for seafood buyers and sellers. We are the seafood industry's leading trade magazine with more than 30 years of experience. Our coverage is based on the "business" of buying and selling seafood.

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To p Species 34 SeaFood Business April 2014 Visit us online at He says G&D bases its de- cision on what a chef would do to produce it, "and the re- sult is a really nice product." Skuna Bay uses its existing distributors to handle the smoked salmon. Rolling out the smoked salmon means overcoming some of the biases people have about smoked product — that it isn't high quality. "We use the best fsh and methods," he says, but that is refected in the price, so Skuna Bay smoked salmon is aimed at a specifc, higher- end customer. Skuna Bay, which pack- ages its fsh three to a box, is continuing to work with its distributors and customers to refne the shipping process, says Mergle. While the company con- tinues to deliver primarily by land vs. air, he says it is spending more time doing in-feld quality audits to en- sure that customers are get- ting what they expect. "We have people who can be our eyes and ears on the quality. Tey can be in the kitchen when the fsh arrives to see it and test it, and that helps us tweak our program," he says. As demand continues to increase for salmon in gen- eral, Mergle says it will be interesting to see how sup- ply and price situations play out. Once Skuna Bay is back on track, he says, it will turn toward expanding into Texas and the Southeast. In the meantime, it is building recognition for the brand through participation in events such as the Ken- tucky Derby's Taste of the Derby and Taste of the NFL during the Super Bowl and events at the James Beard House like the Skuna Bay Salmon Seduction Dinner. Contributing Editor Joanne Friedrick lives in Portland, Maine story, he says, is to communi- cate with consumers via the retailer or by directing people to the company's website and Facebook page. Verlasso does in-store tast- ings as well, and uses that opportunity to discuss issues such as net-pen density and what the fsh are being fed. "[Consumers] get it right away," he says. "And we've gotten better at telling the story since people are more interested in where their fsh is coming from and how it is raised." Dialogue between Ver- lasso and consumers through social media has helped get the word out, as have chefs who are working with the product, says Nichols. To meet increased de- mand, Verlasso has gone to three harvests a week from two. And there is ample supply to meet de- mand, he adds. Te product remains at a premium price to non-branded farmed salmon, he says, with re- tailers and distributors be- ing the ultimate arbiters of where prices will land. Skuna Bay, another play- er in the premium salmon market, has been operating with reduced supply this past year, explains David Mergle, director at the Van- couver, British Columbia- based business. Weather, or more precisely the lack of rain and storms, created challenges for the farm sites, he says. "Te water becomes placid and we can't feed the fsh, so they don't gain any weight," he says. Skuna Bay operates under strict standards for the size of fsh it takes out of the water, so lack of quality fsh means less business. Now, however, "the fsh are back on track; they're a nice weight," he says, esti- mating that volume will still be down for the frst half of the year, so the company is focused on supplying its current customers rather than expanding. Last year, Skuna Bay launched its product in the Pacifc Northwest market. Although just in its back- yard, that market is heavily skewed toward wild salmon, Mergle says, so it can be harder to make inroads with farmed fsh. Te company worked with Ocean Beauty for distribu- tion in the region. "We've seen a lot of interest and ex- citement," says Mergle, "and I think the Northwest will be among the fastest-grow- ing areas for us." Te company also entered New England in 2013, but found the logistics of get- ting its fresh fsh there a bit challenging. "It is not as good as we hoped it would be," ac- knowledges Mergle. "But it's such a good seafood market, so we're optimistic about op- erations there." Another new addition for Skuna Bay is smoked salm- on through a partnership with Gerard & Dominque Seafoods (G&D), a salmon smoking operation based in Kenmore, Wash. Finding a partner for the smoked prod- uct was similar to selecting distributor partners, says Mergle, with a thorough due diligence process involved. Photos courtesy of Admiral's "We've gotten better at telling the story since people are more interested in where their fish is coming from and how it is raised." — Scott Nichols, director, Verlasso Morpol says its club-store and private-label sales are each poised for growth. 30_34TopSpecies.indd 34 3/24/14 3:26 PM

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