Boston blog: Final thoughts


Steven Hedlund

Published on
March 13, 2012

You know it’s been a good show when you narrowly escape a citywide power outage.

The International Boston Seafood Show and Seafood Processing America wrapped up on Tuesday. The mood at the three-day event was positive, likely a result of an improving economy that’s nudging consumers to eat more seafood. I’m hopeful that this positivity carries over to Brussels, where the European Seafood Exposition will take place late next month.

I’d like to personally thank everyone who took the time to be interviewed by a SeafoodSource or SeaFood Business editor or blogger during the show. I know it’s a whirlwind, so I appreciate your time and insight.

Inevitably, there’s someone or something you missed. So allow me to wrap up this year’s International Boston Seafood Show and Seafood Processing America with a few final thoughts:

• Close call. Just a few hours after the show closed, a Back Bay transformer fire blacked out several Boston neighborhoods, including the Back Bay, South End, Chinatown, Theater District and Kenmore Square. More than 20,000 residences and businesses lost electricity. Those of you who waited until Wednesday to depart Boston were likely affected by the power outage, as many of Boston’s hotels are located in those five neighborhoods. Power was expected to be fully restored by Wednesday night, though about 4,000 were still without it Thursday morning.

• If you missed Monday’s conference on seafood fraud, I recommend that you read SeaFood Business Senior Editor James Wright’s take on it. Seafood fraud is, of course, a big problem, and there was no shortage of stories during the conference on just how ludicrous cheaters can be. It’s funny but sad. Click here to read Jamie’s column.

• I caught up with an exhibitor on Tuesday afternoon who updated me on a long-awaited and much-maligned situation — transferring inspection of domestic and imported catfish from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much of update, to no fault of the exhibitor. The situation drags on three years after it became law, and now the holdup is “90 percent” political, said the exhibitor, who has no clue when the switch will officially occur. “It could be tomorrow, it could be later this year,” he said.

• I interviewed Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Monday about the importance of strengthening the Maine brand when it comes to seafood. What I didn’t realize at the time is that he plans on taking that message to the Asian Seafood Exposition in September, as part of a trade mission to Hong Kong and China, reported the Associated Press. As a resident of Maine, it’s good to see that the state’s getting more serious about doing more business with China. There’s a lot of opportunity there.

• Speaking of politicians, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich, both of Alaska, stopped by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute booth. Murkowski and Begich, as well as U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, all participated in Sunday’s “Seafood Jobs in America” conference. Three U.S. senators in one conference room at the International Boston Seafood Show — that’s gotta be a record. Click here to read Jamie’s story on the “Jobs” conference.

• As always, a lot of announcements are made during the show, and here’s one that I missed: Nominations are now open for the 2012 Seafood Champion Awards, organized by SeaWeb’s Seafood Choices program to recognize those who are advancing the sustainable seafood movement. The finalists will be announced at the 10th International Seafood Summit in Hong Kong in early September.

• A strengthening economy helped lift exhibitors’ and visitors’ spirits in Boston this year, and I’m optimistic that it’ll carry over to Brussels. But there’s no denying that the banking crisis in Europe has seafood professionals there on edge. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why many exhibiting countries and regions — including China, Vietnam, India, Chile, Ecuador and Scotland — expanded their presence in Boston this year. A shaky Europe may be prompting more seafood exporters to take a harder look at the North American market.

• Speaking of the growing international presence at Boston, I believe that this is the first year that both Seafood Excellence Awards winners — Dish Hospitality and Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK Ltd. — have been based outside of the United States. Moreover, it’s an encouraging sign that Americans are becoming more sophisticated diners, and innovative companies are responding by developing products with bold, adventurous flavors and preparations. Ten years ago, would a product with the word “nest” in it and a salmon cured in a marinade seasoned with dill, juniper berries and limoncello have flied in the U.S. market? Probably not.

• Finally, I’d like to thank SeafoodSource bloggers Chuck Anderson and Roy Palmer for all of the blogging they did from the show. They’re blogging machines, and they helped improve our coverage of the event.

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