Keep it cool


Melissa Wood, SeaFood Business assistant editor

Published on
October 24, 2013

Don't open the box. That's one of the rules Skuna Bay establishes with distributors as it launches its craft-raised salmon into new markets across North America. The company's other cold-chain rules include keeping shipments on the ground (because air transportation means more hands touching the box); making sure distributors can service chefs twice a week; and sealing boxes with tamper-proof tape to ensure nobody opens the package until it reaches the chef. So far none of the shipments have ever been messed with.

"We've never gotten that call," says company President Dave Mergle. "I don't think it's because distributors think they're going to get in trouble, we're just working with the right distributors."

For Skuna Bay, controlling the cold chain is a critical part of maintaining the high standard of salmon it raises off British Columbia's Vancouver Island. It carefully expands its reach to fine-dining restaurants and boutique retailers across North America by doing all it can to ensure quality. Before they're packed, the salmon are immersed in brine to eliminate bacteria. In the boxes, flaked ice fills their gills and belly cavities.

"We think about details, and we think about every little detail that we can control," says Mergle, which means those boxes only go to carefully vetted distributors. The company sets up in one new market at a time, forging relationships with distributors by first meeting them, touring their facilities and sending samples with temperature probes that typically give a reading every 20 minutes to ensure product stays cold on every leg of its journey to markets in 35 states with its expansion into New England this summer. Mergle says the next targeted markets are Texas and the Southeast.

"Our focus is to deliver to the best chefs in North America the best salmon they can get," he says. "Every single time they get their shipments of salmon that they're going to put on the plate and put their name behind, we want it to always look like it just came out of the water."

Click here to read the full story, which appeared in the October issue of SeaFood Business magazine >

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