Foppen hits US market with first Hilton-partnered frozen products

Foppen's booth at the 2023 Seafood Expo North America.

In December 2021, Hilton Food Group acquired the Dutch Seafood Company, whose main asset was the Foppen company and its brand of smoked salmon products.

At the 2022 Seafood Expo North America, brothers Remko and Wilbert Vedder, respectively Foppen’s U.S. sales director and chief commercial officer, said despite the company changing ownership twice in three years, it was “business as usual” at Foppen.

One year later, at the 2023 Seafood Expo North America, which took place 12 to 14 March in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., the Vedders said the tie-up to Hilton had gone smoothly and was now beginning to pay dividends.

They’re a huge supplier in the U.K. and they make a lot of beautiful products. We went over to the U.K. to the factory and we made a first selection of their products choosing what was most suitable for the U.S. market. They’re all very good, high-quality products that marry well with our current smoked items,” Remko Vedder told SeafoodSource. “[Boston] is the first introduction of these products to all the buyers and the feedback has very, very good,”

The new products include a Smoked Haddock Fishcake, a Salmon Fishcake, Chilli and Lim Salmon Skewers, Beer Battered Cod, and Crispy Basa Goujons.

“These frozen items are quite differentiated for the U.S. market and the products that are here currently,” Wilbert Vedder said. “Hilton bought us also to get into the U.S. market, and the other way around, we get our products into the U.K., where we were never active, really.”

Foppen just landed a supply contract with a big U.K. retailer, he said, and “there’s more serious interest.”

Remko Vedder said the products are all great for a party – to “do some showboating,” he said, similar to what he feels Foppen’s existing lineup of products in the U.S., such as its spicy, garlic, and tomato hot smoked Atlantic salmon and flame-roasted cold-smoked sockeye and Norwegian farmed salmon, offer. Foppen is developing new flavors for its lineup, including a spicy jalapeño flavor, and is now taking some of those offerings and developing a foodservice assortment.

“We're going to conquer the foodservice market in the U.S.,” Wilbert Vedder said.

The brothers said they’re excited for the frozen products because there’s more space in the frozen aisle of many U.S. grocery chains than there is in the refrigerated section.

“We know if we bring a good lineup of beautiful items to our customers, that there space for our products, and they trust our brand and know they will not be disappointed,” Remko Vedder said.

Foppen has developed a reputation for consistent quality and hassle-free service – it didn’t miss a single delivery during the Covid pandemic – and that has earned the company a steady place in the U.S. market, Wilbert Vedder said. American customers buying Foppen products appear to be somewhat insulated from the squeeze inflation has put on the larger seafood market overall in the U.S. Foppen’s U.S. sales have been steady through the past year, according to the brothers, even with skyrocketing salmon prices forcing up product costs.

“I think salmon [suppliers] are demolishing their own market a little bit in Norway, but we’re not seeing volumes go down significantly. We’re quite scared that other proteins will replace salmon, but we’re calm as long as the customers continue to pay for it. We are different from fresh salmon – we produce specialty products, and USD 1 [EUR 0.92] more or less doesn't scare off the biggest part of the U.S. customer [base],” he said. “We see more price-resistance in Europe. In the U.S. people who earn USD 25,000 [EUR 23,000] are not buying our products. It's all USD 80,000 to USD 150,000 [EUR 74,000 to EUR 138,000] annual earners who spend more on food and who can spend more on food. So we are in the right target group to better cope with inflation.”

Foppen has tried to sign back-to-back contracts but Wilbert Vedder admitted ... 

Photo courtesy of Cliff White/SeafoodSource

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