Pacific Seafood launching value-added products for Amazon Go
Now that COVID-19 outbreaks are under control at Pacific Seafood, the supplier is turning its attention to launching unique value-added seafood items with partners such as Amazon and Pac-12 university football and basketball.
In March, the Clackamas, Oregon-based company’s processing plant in Warrenton, Oregon, U.S.A had its third outbreak of COVID-19 in the past year. Last September, nearly 100 of Pacific’s employees at its Warrenton facility tested positive for COVID-19, four months after more than 130 employees tested positive for the coronavirus among its five plants in the area.
“Our processing operations were hit, but we had great working relationships with the health authorities. They were learning from us as much as we were collaborating with them,” Pacific Vice President of Marketing and Development Bill Hueffner told SeafoodSource.
While the pandemic has created a host of challenges for Pacific – and all others in the seafood industry – it has also created a new market for fresh, frozen, and value-added seafood at retail.
“Forty-eight percent of consumers are cooking from scratch more frequently and what that is doing for our business and seafood in general [is wonderful],” Hueffner said. “People used to only eat seafood when they went out to restaurants but are now more comfortable with it.”
Part of that comfort, he said, is consumers’ growing familiarity with product types and the benefits of frozen products.
“People are also now understanding you can buy frozen and it can be fresh. We have really gone light years ahead in how we are improving the shelf life of products,” Hueffner added.
To meet increased retail demand for value-added seafood, Pacific recently added a new facility in San Antonio, Texas, that includes a “value creation area,” where the supplier develops custom private label seafood meals for retailers.
Amazon is partnering with Pacific to create around 20 value-added seafood items quarterly for its Amazon Go stores, which now number 29 – with more to be added.
“We are doing some of that private label for them as well as branded Pacific Seafood items,” Hueffner said.
Heuffner believes Pacific landed the Amazon business because it was already a longtime supplier to Whole Foods Market when Amazon purchased the natural foods chain.
“Their company is learning from Whole Foods and others about the retail grocery business, and coming up with different types of models for consumers. It is interesting to be in on cutting-edge conversations with them and create products with them,” Heuffner said.
Pacific is also developing seafood sausages and breakfast sausages that will be promoted this fall as part of its Pac-12 Conference partnership.
“We are looking to come out with a ‘tailgate-ready series’ around the football season, designed for grilling outdoors and tailgating, with burgers, sausages, and other products. This will be great for some of those promotions with our retail partners,” Heuffner said.
There is a void for seafood sausages in the marketplace, Heuffner noted.
“When you look at deli cases at retail locations, there are a variety of sausages that people are buying, such as chicken sausages, but there aren’t seafood sausages out there right now,” he said.
Pacific’s sausages will be made with salmon, cod, and other fish, with a seaweed casing.
Pacific is also touting its new frozen Tidal Tots, a take on the classic tater tot made with sustainable cod or salmon, potatoes, and seasoning.
“We have tested them with both adults and kids, and they love them,” Heuffner said.
Meanwhile, the company expanded its variety of sauced and seasoned tray pack options for retailers, “and [is] continuing to work with our R&D team and corporate chef to develop new, on-trend meal solutions,” Pacific Seafood Clackamas Assistant General Manager Traci Chidester told SeafoodSource earlier this year.
Among its new retail tray pack options are Honey Miso Aioli Atlantic Salmon; Coconut Curry Butter Atlantic Salmon; Chef’s Special Recipe Crab Cakes; and Shrimp Skewers.
“We also have items being vetted currently to build on the success of our frozen value-added products like our Seasoned Shrimp, which has been one of our best sellers online,” Chidester said.
Photos courtesy of Pacific Seafood