SeaFood Business

MAY 2014

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To p Species 24 SeaFood Business May 2014 Visit us online at agreed to buy. South American produc- ers are also seeking sustain- ability credentials for their fsheries in the form of a fshery improvement project (FIP); there is one for Ecua- doran mahimahi. "In lieu of [Marine Stewardship Coun- cil], people will look for a FIP," says Walsh. Te Taiwanese fshery has no such project or MSC cer- tifcation underway, but if it wants to remain a player in the market, Walsh pre- dicts it will have to move in that direction. In addition to supply challenges, dealing with decomposition is the other big issue with mahimahi, which is a scombrotoxin- forming species if handled or stored improperly. Te Food and Drug Adminis- tration has been looking more closely at product and rejections. A container can be rejected if two of 18 sam- ples show decomposition, adds Walsh. Te problem often origi- nates in the receiving pro- cess when plants get the fsh, he says, so Orca Bay has brought on retired FDA sensory expert Jim Barnett to work with the plants to help them recognize the issue be- fore the fsh are processed. Last year it was more of a problem in South America, he says, but prior to that it was an issue with product from Taiwan. After a couple of rejec- tions, a company can end up on an automatic deten- tion list that requires closer inspections and the need for a HACCP plan that spells out corrective actions. Investing in value-added Don Rife, executive VP of sales and marketing for Clear Springs Foods, a pro- ducer of value-added retail mahimahi items in Buhl, Idaho, refers to mahi as a "nice part of our product line and a consistent performer for us." Rife says sales from September through March increased by "a nice percent- age," and helped cement the decision to introduce a new product this year. Clear Springs already ofered a macadamia co- conut crusted mahi prod- uct, which sells well, and a Jamaican version. Te lat- ter, says Rife, "is still in the line, but hasn't shown the same growth, so that's why we came up with an- other formula." Te newest mahi product being rolled out is crunchy potato crusted. Clear Springs sources its mahimahi from Ecuador, says Rife, and so they have seen the supply issues and price increases, which do in- fuence product sales. As both a wholesaler and a retailer, Chris Arseneault, owner of Seafood@West Main in Charlottesville, Va., deals in mahimahi a couple of ways. On the wholesale side, he carries the product more regularly, supplying 4- to 6-ounce portions to "little taco places that use mahi as a selling point." Within his retail store, mahimahi isn't a staple, but rather appears when he gets a strong recommendation on it from a trusted supplier. Arseneault recently featured mahi from Costa Rica at $14.95 a pound. It appeals to customers who want something more favorful than the typi- cal mild white fsh, he says, but are looking at a value that puts it at a price point below tuna. He carries mahimahi most frequently in the summer, when he tries to get fresh product from the Gulf or East Coast. Western Edge's Kelley says the market for ma- himahi is strengthening in the United States, though not signifcantly. Its staying power, he says, will be deter- mined on the ability of the current inventory to meet demand until the next pro- duction cycle. Te fshery is also im- pacted by the La Niña and El Niño cycles, he adds, so it could get tighter or more abundant, depending on how those weather-related phenomena play out. "It's an interesting species," he sums up. Contributing Editor Joanne Friedrick lives in Portland, Maine "The fresh fish supply chain needs products under $10 that are higher-valued marine fish." — Don Kelley, procurement manager, Western Edge Seafood Photo courtesy of Florida Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing Mahimahi, a.k.a. dorado or dophinfsh, has a sweet, mild taste and faky texture. 22_24_Top Species_May.indd 24 4/16/14 9:34 AM

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