Seafood distributor integrity

By

Dave Ewing

Published on
August 25, 2009

Chef after chef expresses their displeasure in the practice of distributors trying to slip by them a subpar product. Whether it is off sized, over saturated to increase weight, or thawed for frozen, this practice may sometimes fool the new sous chef or inexperienced restaurant manager but it is killing our trade. 

As distributors, it is our obligation to offer product for what it is. A good chef will know what to do with lobsters that are on their last leg or salmon pieces that may have just a few days left in their prime. We are the experts and we take the risk of buying and carrying product too long. It is a crime to pawn off our bad buys on our customers. 

Last week, we mistakenly shipped a customer grey instead of lemon sole. Our customer, feeling as if he was misled, was eager to discuss the species with us. In this case, we had made an error, but the past practices of distributors had caused our customer to pre-judge our actions. As fresh product is a deteriorating commodity, it is often the case that a fresh product will run through its useful lifespan.  Replacing this with an acceptable substitute is a great option, as long as all parties are in agreement.  Once fried, sautéed, or baked, most consumers would not pick up on the difference, but this is hardly the point.

It is irrelevant if this practice has been accepted or long applied. It needs to stop if we are going to build loyalty and confidence in our industry.

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