Honing in on whelks

Articulating a direct link between quality seafood products and their wholesale suppliers has brought heightened visibility and gains to French seafood distributor Pomona Terre Azur.

By adding value to the fishermen and the wholesaler, the distributor now has “a range that allows us to offer and guarantee to the restaurateurs a product as if cooked in their own kitchen,” said François Jourdain, marketing director for Pomona Terre Azur.

The firm’s seafood division, Pomona Mareyage, which generated EUR 58 million (USD 73.7 million) in revenues last year, recently set out to raise awareness of the quality suppliers that they work with, while also precisely defining the specific needs of their customers. Honing in on whelks, the firm found that for too long seafood product quality was presupposed.

“Restaurants need whelks for their seafood platters. But whether they order a whelk cooked live like at home, cooked and refrigerated or cooked and pasteurized, nothing is explained to the restaurateurs, an unfavorable position for them,” said Jourdain at a recent industry conference in Paris.

It was, he said, “really abnormal” to have on one side tender whelks and on the other elastic whelks like tyres, sometimes at the same price and without the option for the customer to choose.

As a result, Pomona Terre Azur now defines whelks in its portfolio according to how they are cooked, a move that drove up its sales of cooked live whelks.

According to Jourdain, the firm met with 91 wholesalers from Normandy and Brittany and gave them a rank according to their strong points and specialties. “This enables our buyers to match the most appropriate fish merchant for a specific product,” he explained.

Pomona Terre Azur repeated the identical steps with similar success for shrimps, crab and lobster.

“The visibility of fish species and the flow of seafood supplies are priorities for foodservice operators,” said Jourdain.

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