Phillips unveils new apps, tuna burger for Seafood Expo North America

Published on
February 22, 2019

Phillips Foods is launching tuna products at retail for the first time, along with several new frozen seafood appetizers, ahead of Seafood Expo North America, taking place in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. from 17 to 19 March.

The Baltimore, Maryland-based foodservice and retail supplier is unveiling a tuna burger and pasteurized tuna at the expo. While it has offered tuna products on a limited basis to foodservice, this is Phillips’ first venture into offering tuna at retail, Phillips Vice President of Retail Sales and Marketing John Baxter  told SeafoodSource.

Additionally, the company recently added Crispy Dim Sum, Crab Rangoon, and Shrimp & Grits to its appetizer line. The apps – sold in Food Lion, Giant Landover, and other grocery chain stores – retails for a suggested price of between USD 7.99 (EUR 7.05) and USD 8.99 (EUR 7.93) each. 

The new apps join Phillips’ other popular apps, including Shrimp Toast, Crab Pretzel, and Salt & Pepper Calamari. They are targeted toward consumers who are increasingly interested in small plates and tapas-style eating, Baxter explained. 

“We have found that, in our restaurants and others that our foodservice team work with, the growth of small plate and tapas-style offerings expand on menus around the country. It seems to fall in line with the wants of the consumer - not only millennials, but all age groups,” Baxter said.

The 105-year-old supplier is best-known for its blue swimming crab and crab cakes, but Phillips has greatly diversified its offerings in recent years, which has provided a sales boost, Baxter said.

“It has been a challenging few years with crab meat [prices and availability], but we have positive momentum,” Baxter said.

Moreover, grocers are more likely to carry more of Phillips’ products when the supplier can offer a wider variety of apps, crab cakes, and soups, Baxter added. 

“That is helping us as we move forward, since buyers are looking at space management and return on investment,” he said.

Rolling out new products has also pushed the company to expand production capacity. It recently finished capital improvements on its second plant in Indonesia to assist in producing value-added products, and has added “small, limited runs” at its plant on the eastern shore of Maryland, Baxter said.

Phillips added pasteurized tuna, in part because it has access to quality raw material in Indonesia, according to Baxter. 

“We want to expand our footprint in the refrigerated section and bring to the consumer a quality tuna that is currently not found in center store grocery,” he said.

The tuna burger was developed because “we see a need in the market for a quality burger,” Baxter said. “Also, we are producing tuna on the foodservice side and want to utilize the top quality raw material to it fullest. It allows us to diversify our raw material base in our line - a raw material that we control.”

Phillips based its new app development on dishes that work well in the foodservice side of its business. For example, it already carries dim sum for foodservice, and the supplier simply par-fries it for retail. 

Each Crispy Dim Sum package contains four of each: Shrimp Spring Rolls, Shrimp Wontons, and Shrimp Money Bags, handmade in Asia. Phillips’ Pineapple Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce is included.

Meanwhile, its new Shrimp & Grits includes shrimp with creamy, cheesy stone-ground grits dusted with Phillips Seafood Seasoning, in a 10-ounce microwavable bowl.

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