Gloucester features underutilized species at SENA
The City of Gloucester’s large booth at Seafood Expo North America, taking place 19 to 21 March in Boston, Massachusetts, will showcase some of the most undervalued species from local waters, part of the city’s effort to promote local Gloucester seafood to the global market.
This marks the third year that Gloucester has had a major presence at SENA. Last year, several Chinese buyers sought out Gloucester representatives in search of U.S. lobster, according to city representatives.
The city also recently received a USD 20,000 (EUR 18,545) grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote seafood as part of its “Gloucester Fresh” initiative. The grant will be used to build a seafood product development kitchen in Gloucester.
“The goal of this pilot program is to have a commercial kitchen where institutional buyers and restaurants can try undervalued species landed locally and for local seafood companies to develop new seafood products,” Sal Di Stefano, economic development director for the City of Gloucester, told SeafoodSource.
This year at SENA, the City and the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association will be handing out samples of fish cakes made out of local undervalued species, such as cod and haddock. Beer from a Gloucester brewery will also be featured at the show.
“In the U.S., there are undervalued fish like whiting, which you could pay EUR 40 (USD 43.13) for as an entree in Europe. Here, it is largely used as bait,” Di Stefano said. “We think part of that disconnect is lack of marketing. Fish like hake, pollock and redfish are delicious, and the more we let people know about this, the better.”
Some restaurant chains are already using more underutilized species from the region. A partnership with the 99 Restaurant & Pub chain, owned by American Blue Ribbon Holdings, helped to promote local Gloucester haddock in 2016.
“It was on their menus, along with photos of Gloucester boats. It was a very successful seasonal campaign that we hope will launch again this year,” Di Stefano said.
Restaurants can benefit by utilizing Gloucester Fresh marketing materials, such as window decals, to let customers know they support local fishermen.
“Everyone knows about farm-to- table; we are promoting local seafood, ocean-to-table, Di Stefano said. “As there is more demand for the fish, it helps everyone.”
The City of Gloucester is also trying to get institutional foodservice buyers to commit to the program and recognize that “this is a really healthy product to serve their customers,” Di Stefano said.
Meanwhile, the city’s planned test kitchen, which aims to attract restaurant buyers from across the United States as well as other countries, is a partnership between the City of Gloucester, the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association and Snapchef, a culinary training and staffing company.
The grant and the support of the USDA is “further confirmation that Gloucester’s collaborative approach with fisherman, restaurants, retailers and governments at the local, state and federal levels is working,” said Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr in a statement.