Q&A: Japan crisis hits U.S. salmon supplier
Mark Tupper, president of Triad Fisheries, is looking at next month’s European Seafood Exposition as a way to make up for some lost sales to Japan. And his company is in a good position to do so — its Smoked Coho Salmon is the only product from a U.S.-based supplier to be named as a finalist in the 2011 Seafood Prix d’Elite new products competition. The winners will be unveiled at an awards ceremony on 3 May in Auditorium 2000 of the Parc des Expositions in Brussels, Belgium.
SeafoodSource talked to Tupper about European Seafood Exposition, the impact of the tragedy in Japan on the global seafood industry and the growth of Triad Fisheries.
Blank: How have the tsunami and earthquakes in Japan impacted your frozen seafood business?
Tupper: Brussels is an important show for us, particularly because of Japan. My customers say business is down in Japan, by as much as 60 to 80 percent, and we have lost some business out of Japan because cold storage space is really, really tight. Some restaurants are only open part of the day in Tokyo right now, as rolling brownouts go through. Some of our product that was going to Japan won’t be going there. One of our customers died — it is a very personal time for us. He came over to see our product and was a huge flag-bearer for us. However, buyers from Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong are looking for replacement fish that they normally would get from Japan.
How is your frozen seafood business doing in Europe and the United States?
It has grown remarkably well. We present chefs with a headed-and-gutted salmon that, because it is cryogenically frozen, is only two hours old. We also started selling a box that has a single king salmon for restaurants. Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Ore., is using it, and we want to get more sushi restaurants to consider our fish. In Europe, we have a new distributor (Le Delas) that we are working with.
Why do you think Smoked Coho Salmon is the only product from a U.S.-based supplier to be a finalist in the Prix d’Elite?
I don’t think a lot of U.S. companies that produce shelf-ready product market in Europe. They do a lot of commodity-ready products. We are just happy we were selected. It is a shelf-stable product sold in jars that relates back to when your mother did home canning. It doesn’t have that dry flavor from smoked salmon – we use a light flavor. It is the next step for our company (which primarily produces frozen seafood products) and goes along with my background in value-added seafood. I helped another company I worked for produce Whole Foods’ and Target’s private-label frozen lines when they started those.
Where is the product being distributed?
We just launched this. Because of issues with frozen fish and Japan — we have focused on selling through our frozen supply — we had put it on the back burner. We produced a limited amount last summer to see where it led us, and we produced 3,000 cases last year. We hope to get some distribution in Europe for it at Brussels. We are just getting started in the United States, with very limited placement. We will be opening up an 800 number and doing direct marketing on it. Over the long term, we hope to have it in delis and specialty stores.
Click here to read last July’s interview with Tupper.