Traceability becoming a necessity
Implementing a traceability system is no longer an option for seafood suppliers, it's a necessity, said panelists at Sunday's conference "Traceability: Why It's Good for the Seafood Industry" at the International Boston Seafood Show.
Panelists discussed the practicality and benefits of traceability systems, and how implementing such a system can boost a seafood supplier's profitability and prevent species substitution, short weighting and other forms of economic fraud.
"At first I thought, ‘Man, this is expensive," said Bob Sullivan, CEO of the Plitt Co., a Chicago seafood distributor that handles a total of about 60 species. "But we ended up making money by tracing our products."
Plitt increased its customer retention and reduced the time it took to turn its fresh seafood inventory, which boosted cash flow and profitability, said Sullivan.
"I wish I had done this 10 years earlier," he said.
But implementing a traceability system required a culture change, said Sullivan, who put a lot of resources toward retraining staff.
"Traceability plays a very important role in my business," added Lance Nacio, owner of Anna Marie Seafood of Dulac, La., which harvests, processes and distributes Gulf shrimp.
Nacio said his traceability system is helping to set his company apart from the competition.
"It really makes a difference when customers know where your products are coming from, how they're harvest and how they're handled," said Nacio.