Supplier Watch: Sustainable aquaculture tips
The environmental pressures on the seafood industry are mounting every day. Sustainability of the global marine stocks is not a flash in the pan by the press or consumers, and awareness in all corners continues to grow. There is opportunity for suppliers in the sustainable seafood market to establish themselves as leaders in the field. Below are the top four tips taken from Cleanseas, an Australian-based integrated operation covering all aspects of fish management from water to plate, in how to grow into a successful farmer while maintaining the highest quality product.
1) Search for talent in other industries
To be successful in the overly competitive sustainable seafood industry, you need a leader with the right skill set, not necessarily a leader from within the seafood industry itself. Cleanseas hired their current managing director, Clifford Ashby, away from the fresh fruit industry where he spent the past 16 years in primary production – from nursery through growing, harvesting, processing and marketing — very similar in terms of operational function to the aquaculture industry. Look for management experience with a solid financial background that will focus on production efficiencies, cost reduction and brand building and alignment.
2) Broaden your market
Seek to broaden your customer base and product offering by differentiating yourself. Cleanseas seeks to become the first aquaculture company to commercialize sustainable blue fin tuna for mainstream markets as well as to build a profitable kingfish business for both our existing customers and ourselves. Partner with the very best retailers in each export market, they will help with brand identity and consumer loyalty.
3) Educate your consumers
While raising consumer awareness through education is time-consuming and often expensive, it is more costly to rely on viral marketing to do the job. Find leading chefs that will be inspired by your product, offer consumer tastings in-store, offer your time to NGOs that can assist in considerably raising public awareness and leverage your industry contacts to educate within the trade. Cleanseas held a day of master classes for their suite of products in central Oslo with their Scandinavian distribution partners, Flying Seafood, to widespread acclaim by chefs, the trade and media. It was one of the best-attended events the culinary scene in Norway has seen for many years and Cleanseas is regularly holding similar events in countries around the world.
4) Focus on the basics
Successful brand building, quality product, cost-efficient production and sustainability are the key element to developing a successful seafood company. Without strong brand recognition, premium pricing cannot be achieved and this would impact pricing and ultimately profitability. Similarly, without a quality product it becomes a commodity and it is very difficult for companies selling commodity products into highly cost-competitive markets. Ultimately, though, without sustainability one will not have a business in years to come.
This Supplier Watch was based on a SeafoodSource interview with Clifford Ashby, managing director of Cleanseas.