Polar vortex hampering seafood deliveries

The polar vortex weather pattern has not only caused deaths and severe traffic problems in Midwest and northeastern states, but has also hampered seafood deliveries.
In addition to snow and rain, many states are experiencing record cold temperatures this week, such as minus 63 Fahrenheit wind chill (-52.8 Celsius) in Montana. Illinois declared a state of emergency as the state faced a combination of black ice, extremely low temperatures and snow drifts.
A state of emergency was also declared in areas of western upstate New York. “Police pulled truck drivers off the roads and are giving USD 250 (EUR 184) tickets to companies trying to haul freight,” Laura Foley Ramsden, owner of Foley Fish in Boston told SeafoodSource.

While the upstate New York weather problems are not directly affecting Foley Fish’s deliveries, airline delays are throwing a kink in its business. “JetBlue’s decision to take a day and a half off of business hurts in some areas,” Foley Ramsden said. Foley Fish ships to customers in 38 states.

However, for most of its air shipments, Foley has been able to utilize other airlines that travel the same routes at JetBlue, such as American or Delta. Most of the distributor’s restaurant and retail customers are receiving deliveries, while a few are facing a day’s delay because of JetBlue.

Still, customers are fatigued by snowstorms and delivery issues that have plagued the Northeast United States since before Christmas, Ramsden said. “It does try the patience of your customers who are sitting in nice weather. Delays are harder to come by in this generation, because people like Amazon make things so immediate,” Ramsden said.

Independent store Robert’s Seafood Market in Springfield, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, was forced to close Monday because it could not get deliveries from its Chicago suppliers. “The roads were not passable, so all the deliveries of seafood, produce, deli items, everything, were cancelled. We wouldn’t have had any fresh product at all,” Brian Aiello, general manager of operations for Robert’s Seafood, told SeafoodSource.

To top it off, Robert’s lost all seafood, produce and other perishables in one of its walk-in coolers on Monday when the cooler’s motor froze.

Still, despite extremely cold temperatures, seafood supply has not been significantly impacted across the country. “I have been so amazed: I was prepared for primarily getting farmed fish this week. However, the day boats are going out, the trawlers are landing in Gloucester, Mass., and the guys are out digging steamers in Portland, Maine,” Ramsden said.

Because of lower landings during the busy holiday season, prices on wild fish have been 25 percent higher on average for the last two or three weeks, according to Ramsden. “Prices are high on items like cod, haddock and flounder — all the fish that are auction-dependent,” she said.


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500