Blue Circle expanding fresh and frozen offerings in the US and Europe
Blue Circle Foods is expanding its selection of fresh and frozen seafood in both the United States and European markets, including a new value-added product to be launched later this year or in early 2019.
The Washington, D.C., U.S.A.-based supplier, the largest fresh and frozen farmed salmon supplier to Whole Foods Market stores, also supplies Harris Teeter, Price Chopper, Andronicos, Earthfare, and other retailers with its salmon and other seafood.
David Pilat, vice president of business development for Blue Circle, said while his firm continues to look into opportunities to expand into other retail outlets in the United States, it is seeing larger growth on the foodservice side of its business.
“Foodservice is ramping up for us – it’s a growing sector that will continue to be a focus moving forward,” Pilat told SeafoodSource.
Blue Circle distributes its seafood through Sysco and other national distributors. Pilat said he believes growth will come through adding new products to its line. As part of this strategy, the supplier is launching a yet-to-be-named “family-friendly, kid-friendly, value-added” seafood product in the retail and foodservice market later this year, he said.
Blue Circle supplies the Changing Seas brand of fresh and frozen salmon exclusively to Whole Foods. The salmon is currently retailing for USD 9.99 (EUR 8.55) per pound, thanks to Amazon’s initiatives to lower prices on Whole Foods’ products.
Each eight-ounce serving of Changing Seas salmon contains an average of about 4.1 grams of marine (combined EPA and DHA) omega-3 fatty acids, according to the company. The Atlantic salmon raised by Nordland, Norway-based Kvarøy, one of Blue Circle’s primary suppliers, was one of the first farmed salmon brands with a fish-in, fish-out ratio below 1-to-1, earning it a “Good Alternative” rating from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch – a rarity for farmed salmon. Kvarøy, Blue Circle, and BioMar jointly developed the unique feed, Pilat said.
“This increase in sustainability is due to ‘In the Blue,’ our innovative farmed fish feed that conserves marine resources and reduces environmental contaminants in farmed salmon,” he said.
Blue Circle’s reach extends beyond Norwegian salmon. It also supplies the world’s first Fair Trade-certified yellowfin tuna from the Maldives, which is caught by native fishermen via handline or pole-and-line. And it markets Marine Stewardship Council-certified cod, which is line caught in the North Sea, and Arnalax Icelandic Atlantic salmon, which is raised in low-density pens without added chemicals or hormones.
After initial success in the U.S. market, Blue Circle has designs on expansion in Europe. It recently hired Peter Luxhoi, who will be based in Aalborg, Denmark, as its new director of European operations. In the European Union market, Blue Circle will first go after the retail market and then move into foodservice with fresh, frozen, and value-added offerings, according to Pilat.
“Similar to the U.S., we know that demand for sustainable seafood in Europe is on the rise,” Pilat said. “The European market is wide open right now. They understand sustainable seafood and innovation, and we are hoping to grow exponentially.”
Pilat said Blue Circle believes it has an advantage in Europe since its salmon farms, smokehouses, and the producer of its soon-to-be-announced “family friendly” value-added seafood product are based there.