Handy upgrades plant, renews focus on domestic products

Handy Seafood is upgrading its processing plant in the U.S. state of Maryland, as it seeks to increase its production of both value-added and domestic seafood products.

The Salisbury, Maryland-based shellfish specialist also recently launched new products and one of them, Thai Chili Shrimp Rolls, is nominated for a Seafood Excellence Award, which were to be awarded at the 2020 Seafood Expo North America until the event was postponed by organizer Diversified Communications on 3 March.

“We started oyster-shucking at the plant [in Crisfield, Maryland], so now we produce frozen half shell oysters and shucked meats,” Handy Marketing Director Maureen Johnson told SeafoodSource. “We are also investing in new equipment to increase volume and decrease cost. With this new equipment, we will be expanding our product line capabilities.”

Some of those new products include materials that can be sourced nearby to the plant.

“We are trying to shift our demand to locally-produced products and products made in America,” Handy Director of Operations Jeff Middleton told SeafoodSource. “The Chesapeake Bay is so well known for oysters and soft crabs. As that business continues to grow and our customers are looking for domestic products, we have been able to take care of more domestically.”

Middleton has also overseen improvement in efficiencies and throughput at the plant.

“We are working on product loads, reducing costs, and different things to increase quality of products … and reduce labor and other costs to improve the company’s bottom line and costs to our customers,” he said.

Over the past few months, Handy has also launched several innovative apps and meals in grocery chains and club stores. Its Salmon Superfoods Bites, Salmon Pastry Bites, and Salmon Dip Flatbread are sold in club stores. It also rolled out Domestic Key West Shrimp Bites, Domestic Key West Shrimp Cakes, Shrimp Rolls, and Nashville Hot Shrimp.

Consumer demand for frozen seafood products has increased due to the “pressures of work, after-school activities, lack of time and the need for the quality, speed, and convenience in meal preparation that frozen seafood can deliver,” Handy Director of Product Development Lion Gardner told SeafoodSource.

“Millennials are willing to give frozen products a try provided they are high quality, innovative and delicious,” Gardner said. “This may explain why, after several lackluster years, frozen food sales have been on an upswing. Frozen seafood items encompassing bold flavors and ease-of-preparation are attracting new customers to the category.”  

Made with salmon, edamame, spinach, chia seeds, broccoli, and other ingredients, the Salmon Superfoods Bites “appeal to consumers looking to add more plant-based products into their diets but not ready to depart from traditional proteins like shrimp and salmon,” Gardner said.

The Bites contain 12 grams of protein per serving.

The 24-count Salmon Pastry Bites, which have 10 grams of protein per serving, include salmon, broccoli and cream cheese filling. The Salmon Pastry Bites and Salmon Dip Flatbreads offer consumers an “easy-to-prepare gourmet appetizer for entertaining or snacking,” Gardner said.

Both apps were featured as a limited time offering during the holidays at a major club store.

Domestic Key West Shrimp Bites, and Domestic Key West Shrimp Cakes are made with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch-approved shrimp and feature a clean ingredient statement, Gardner said.

The Nashville Hot Shrimp app includes shrimp dipped in a cayenne-infused buttermilk batter with crunchy panko breading.

Select Whole Foods Market stores are carrying the Domestic Nashville Hot Shrimp, along with the Shrimp Bites and Shrimp Cakes.

At SENA 2019, Handy unveiled its Key West Shrimp Burger and an Asian-inspired Togarashi Shrimp app.

“We made a very good burger with whole shrimp – not just fragments – which provides a much better taste and texture,” Handy Executive Chairman Terrence Conway told SeafoodSource at the time.

Photo courtesy of Handy


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