Lund’s invests heavily in foodservice despite COVID-19 challenges
While many seafood processors are struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lund’s Fisheries is expanding its storage and processing space, and hiring a slate of executives to fuel growth of value-added lines – primarily to foodservice.
The Cape May, New Jersey, U.S.A.-based company, which owns 19 fishing vessels and has production facilities in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California, will break ground on a 90,000-square-foot cold and dry storage facility to its Shoreline Freezers facility this summer. It also plans on adding processing capabilities at the plant, Mark Fratiello, the company’s new director of sales and marketing, told SeafoodSource.
“We also invested in machinery to make sure we can do real clean fish with seasonings and sauces, and will be moving forward with that,” Fratiello said.
In addition to hiring Fratiello, Lund’s has added new business development managers, quality assurance executives, and a general manager. The new hires will help the company grow its Lund's Fisheries, Seafood Market, and Sea Legend brands in both retail and foodservice, it said in a press release.
Lund’s aims to boost sales of fresh and frozen scallop, calamari, shrimp, finfish, and value-added lines to broadline distributors, restaurants, wholesale distributors, and retailers, it said. Andthe company is bringing on national brokerage firm Waypoint to help grow its sales – primarily to broadline distributors and foodservice.
While the foodservice industry has taken a hard hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, Lund’s Fisheries President Wayne Reichle said he is banking on the industry’s future growth.
"Last year, toward the end of April and May, things started to open up and we started to see a surge again. Everybody’s hope is that they start to roll out the vaccine and, as more people are vaccinated, you will see the foodservice industry start to slowly rebound,” Reichle said. “We are looking at this long term, and want to be able to jump out of the gate and make the best of it [when foodservice rebounds].”
Joining Fratiello, who has 10 years of experience in seafood sales and marketing, are Mike Wallace and John Fee, who were both hired as national business development managers.
"Onboarding a national broker with a company that has more than 65 years of vertically integrated seafood experience is an exciting time in my career and a great opportunity to achieve Lund's Fisheries strategic goals," Wallace said.
Federico Sehringer was named compliance officer and quality assurance director, and Joshua Farinella was named director of compliance and quality assurance. Gene Taormina is Lund’s new general manager at Shoreline Freezers in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
Over the past several years, Lund’s has been building up its retail accounts, and that business helped the processor maintain liquidity during the pandemic, Reichle said. Now, after success with private label growth at retail, Lund’s plans to pursue more private label business from foodservice accounts.
The company said it will also grow its Sea Legend and Seafood Market brands in both foodservice and retail. It plans to launch new value-added breaded items as well as an Alaskan finfish program that includes individually vacuum-packed portions of cod, salmon, and halibut.
“These items pair well with our current calamari and scallop offerings,” Reichle said.
Its new facility, which Reichle expects will be operational by June 2022, will include 50,000 square feet of cold storage space, 20,000 square feet of dry storage, and 20,000 square feet of employee services and processing space.
The additional warehouse space will allow Lund’s to handle more of its own products – both commodities and foodservice products – in-house, Reichle said.
Photo courtesy of Lund’s Fisheries