Kings, Port Clyde fishermen collaborate
Retailers buying product directly from fishermen is nothing new. But Phil Walsh, director of business development for Alfa Gamma Seafood Group in Miami, says this longstanding practice is gaining momentum.
One such retailer is Kings Super Markets in Parsippany, N.J., says Walsh. The 27-store grocery chain is working on a deal with Port Clyde, Maine, fishermen whereby the port's 11 trawlers supply a variety of species - cod, haddock, flounder, hake, Atlantic pollock, monkfish and shrimp - on a seasonal basis. (Port Clyde seafood landings average about 1.5 million pounds annually.)
The first delivery of Port Clyde seafood is due to arrive at Kings stores in June or July. A processing facility is currently under construction in the port.
By purchasing directly from fishermen, Kings is limiting the supply chain to just two or three days, thereby improving product quality, says Tony Ruccio, Kings' director of seafood sales and merchandising. What's more, Port Clyde fishermen give Kings a story to tell customers, whether via seafood counter staff or in POS signage and weekly circulars.
"You're selling the entire process," said Ruccio, who has also purchased seafood directly from fishermen in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and Tobago. "It's not a matter of what [species] it is, it's the quality of the product. You want customers to ask, ‘What's good today?' That's the mindset you want to build."
"These are first-rate fishermen," said Walsh of Port Clyde. "They ask, ‘What can we do to make a better living catching fish?'"
Walsh and Ruccio are part of the "Port to Point of Sale" conference at the International Boston Seafood Show on Sunday from 4 to 5 p.m. Glen Libby and Laura Kramer, both of the Midcoast Fishermen's Association, are also participating in the discussion.