Getting more value out of ‘culls’
By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
08 March, 2012
What started out as a way for New Hampshire lobstermen to get more value for one-clawed lobsters, or “culls,” has led to a successful regional pasta business.
Lobsterman Damon Frampton opened the Portsmouth Lobster Co. of Portsmouth, N.H., in 2009, when the value of the lobster catch was 15 percent less than its three-year average. Teaming up with David Hickman — who had worked on Frampton’s lobster boat for about a year — the pair set out to use the entire catch from between four and eight vessels through value-added products.
“We were trying to find more value for our catch. I was driving one day and thought about producing lobster ravioli,” said Hickman.
Hickman and Frampton approached the Terra Cotta Pasta Co. in Dover, N.H., asking the owner to create a lobster ravioli to sell to local restaurants. The Common Man, a chain of 18 restaurants throughout New Hampshire, liked the idea of supporting a local business and soon picked up the ravioli. In addition, Hickman and Frampton worked with the Portsmouth Chowder Co. to make a lobster chowder, which is now also featured at The Common Man restaurants.
Restaurant guests and grocery store customers through the region responded in a positive way to the locally produced pasta. With the help of distributor Favorite Foods in Somersworth, N.H., Portsmouth Lobster now distributes its lobster ravioli to 14 retail locations and 25 restaurants. Retailers include Harvest Market and The Meat House in Bedford, N.H.
Portsmouth Lobster’s ravioli started out as a small venture at about 15 cases a week. But now the business has now grown to around 60 cases a week.
“There are a lot of efforts to promote the local fishermen, who want more for their catch. It took true supporters of the local movement to drive this,” said Hickman. Using culls for the ravioli and chowder has raised the value of the local lobstermens’ catch between 10 and 15 percent, he noted.
In the near future, Portsmouth Lobster plans to expand distribution of its ravioli to other regions.
“Advancing it further is part of the bigger plan. We are trying to make sure that it is controlled growth — growth with a plan,” said Hickman.
08 March, 2012