Seafood suppliers use consumer insights to grow consumption

Canadian suppliers try to make it easier for customers to cook seafood

The seafood industry is trying to make eating fish easier for Canadians, and that’s good news for the country’s grocers.

Many of those efforts were on display this week at the 2015 Seafood Expo North America in Boston.

The largest seafood trade event in North America, Seafood Expo featured more than 1,100 exhibitors from 49 countries showing a wide variety of seafood, seafood products, services and equipment.

There were more than 20,000 buyers and other seafood professionals from around the world walking the show floor, which had more than 100 exhibitors from Canada. Retailers Loblaw, Costco and Sobeys were spotted at the event.

Several of the Canadian suppliers on the exhibit floor group were presenting new items that addressed specific shopper demands, including generational, ethnic and expertise level requests.

For instance, Ocean Choice International, based in St. John's, N.L., has started to sell new packaged lines that make it easier for customers to cook their seafood, including portion-packed Canadian ground fish like halibut and perch already cut into pieces for stews and crockpot dishes.

Westmoreland Fisheries of Cap-Pelé, N.B., exhibited its Rocky Point brand of lobster meat and attracted a good size crowd interested in its scored lobster claws. The company has also adjusted its package goods to make the product easier to cook, and therefore appeal to a wider variety of shoppers.

“We're working to make the product more consumer friendly both geographically and generationally,” said Nat Richard director of corporate affairs at Westmoreland.

In addition to a focus on the shopper, suppliers at Seafood Expo are touting their sustainability credentials. Groupe Ferron, based in Montreal, mandates that all of its partners are certified responsible fisheries.

Daniel Chagnon, vice-president of sales and marketing at Groupe Ferron, said he and other suppliers from Quebec and elsewhere in Canada are doing more auditing of trading partners to ensure they adhere to all government regulations and industry best practices.

The Seafood Expo,which wrapped up Tuesday after three days, also saw awards given out for best new products. The best new retail product award went to  Yihe Corporation for its Alaskan Jack's. High Liner won the best new foodservice award for its Pulled BBQ Salmon.

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