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How does a business maintain seafood sales in a tough economic climate? This is just one of the questions panelists will address at a seminar titled “How to Sell Seafood During the Great Recession” during the upcoming International Boston Seafood Show. The seminar is designed to help businesses improve their bottom line and stay competitive in a difficult economic climate.

Butch Vidrine, a conference panelist and senior director of seafood at Sysco Corp., the United States’ largest foodservice distributor, told SeafoodSource that the biggest economic challenge facing the seafood industry is the rising cost of goods.

“This economic climate forces us to work closer with our customers and either switch species or downsize, like with shrimp,” said Vidrine. “Fortunately, with what we do the category is so large that you can always switch items. So if someone’s buying cod and pollock’s a better deal, there are alternatives. But you have to be able to listen to your customers and find out what their needs are.”?Vidrine said Sysco has weathered the economy and maintained growth by staying close to its customers. “We sit down with our customers, look at their needs and help them survive by looking at their menus and find ways of cutting costs,” he explained.

Vidrine said he’s seeing continued growth in the seafood market despite rising prices. “We’ve almost come to the ceiling of what people are willing to pay for seafood, and there’s only so much you can do to downsize and offer alternatives,” he noted. “I think within six months we’ll see all pricing easing up and maybe getting flat by the end of the year.”

At the seminar, Vidrine will talk in detail about what Sysco is doing to help see restaurants through a challenging economy. Joining Vidrine are Chuck Anderson of Sousa Seafood, Philip Walsh of the Alfa Gamma Seafood Group, Robert Novotny of Bonefish Grill and Tony Ruccio of Kings Supermarkets.

The seminar will be held on 21 March from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. To attend the seminar, participants must hold a Gold or Silver Passport as part of their registration. Click here to register for a Passport.

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