Del Pacifico betting on shrimp’s value equation
At a time when consumer concern about grocery inflation is at an all-time high, Del Pacifico Seafoods is betting on the value proposition of shrimp. The Downey, California, U.S.A.-based specialist in Mexican shrimp is rolling out a number of new shrimp products.
Shrimp has maintained relatively stable prices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting a relative value to shoppers and diners concerned about the cost of seafood. On the other hand, the price of crab, lobster, scallops, and some other species have discouraged some buyers and consumers.
“You really can’t beat the value of shrimp. Wild shrimp prices are still below the historical levels from 2014,” Del Pacifico Vice President of Sales Jennifer Barrett told SeafoodSource in an email. “For us, when you take into consideration food safety, quality of natural ingredients, and all of our product’s attributes – chemical-free, sustainable, best fishing practices – shrimp offers a very good value.”
The supplier’s wild blue Mexican shrimp product “continues to increase in popularity within the industry as buyers look for high-quality, chem-free, and Fair Trade-certified products,” Barrett added.
Steady pricing can also be attributed to Del Pacifico branching out from wild shrimp only to farmed shrimp, as it launched a line of responsibly farmed shrimp at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., in March 2022.
“Since starting the company in 2014, we have seen year-over-year demand for our shrimp across retail and foodservice,” Del Pacifico CEO Rubén Castro said in a press release at the time. “Wild shrimp alone cannot sustain this growth.”
Del Pacifico recently added frozen wild, chemical-free, cooked shrimp offerings to its lineup, "which brings a nice variety alongside our other offerings already available: wild chem-free, raw, peeled, and our wild chem-free shrimp burger,” Barrett said.
The cooked shrimp is also a “great to grab-and-go and for those looking for a convenient option,” Barrett said.
Plus, the supplier expanded distribution of its Wild Blue Mexican Shrimp Burgers, launched in 2020, to H-E-B’s Central Market stores earlier this year. The burgers are made with wild-caught whole shrimp.
"Chopping the shrimp by hand and adding only black pepper, garlic, and olive oil ensures you’re getting the highest-quality shrimp burger available. There are no fillers and no preservatives,” the company said.
In August 2022, Del Pacifico launched a value-added line of Peeled Shrimp Skewer options for retailers.
“This helps retailers looking for ready-to-cook options with more opportunities to get shrimp into consumer’s hands. It is also a nice add for wholesale operators,” Barrett said.
In addition, its Aquaculture Stewardship Council-certified Farmed White Shrimp will be showcased at Coastal Seafoods in the U.S. state of Minnesota in October 2022 as part of a promotion with ASC.
“This launch is a second part series of ASC's campaigns, but Coastal Seafoods was also looking for a premium shrimp product and our ASC Farmed White Shrimp fit nicely within their retail case portfolio,” Barrett said.
Del Pacifico is in the process of rolling out a Wild Mayan Octopus product for wholesale and foodservice this fall.
“The octopus is chem-free with no additives,” Barrett said.
The supplier also repackaged its retail line to include bagged options.
“This gives retailers the option of packaging with a stand-up bag for freezer door sets,” Barrett said.
Del Pacifico posted steady sales in Q2 2022, and realized a hike in sales from promotions with specific retailers, as it focuses on new sales and commitments for the fall, Barrett said. One recent promotion with a grocery chain featuring Del Pacifico shrimp at its fresh seafood counters resulted in a 54 percent increase in pounds sold and an 18 percent increase in sales of participating items, according to Barrett.
“Together, we were able to advertise the promotion and our brand to consumers, including information about our products and fishery which gives us the opportunity to highlight some of our key differentiators, such as sustainability and fair-trade certification,” Barrett said.
Consumers want to be more knowledgeable about the quality of their seafood, where it comes from, and what to look for when purchasing it, according to Barrett.
“For us, everything from our packaging to our website – where you can literally trace when and where your shrimp were caught – help to tell the Del Pacifico story and educate consumers on the importance of high-quality, sustainable seafood,” she said.
The biggest challenge in the wild shrimp market is predicting which sizes consumers will want to buy, according to Barrett.
"In most years when prices went up, the sizes in demand would trend to a smaller size, for example, move the 16/20 to a 21/25 size,” she said. “That was not the case this year for us. Most customers went ahead and took a larger size, or moved up a size.”
Photo courtesy of Del Pacifico Seafoods