I thought that I would post something about what my first year in the Seafood Industry was like.
This past year I have met a lot of great people.... As well, I have met a few not so great people. I guess that was to be expected. Overall, I have met some very careful buyers, learned quickly about our fickle ocean, dealt with some very high prices; but most of all I created some great relationships.
When I mentioned careful buyers, I meant that it seems that our industry has a low level of trust. In other industries I have worked in, building credibility was a little easier. I get the sense that a lot of people have gotten burned, either will poor quality or slow payment. This was tough because, when I am challenged on my integrity I get a little defensive. I and Partner Seafood has built a brand on the highest quality and commitment to our customers: I intend to keep it that way.
Also, this year I learned quickly how a low yield of our oceans harvest can seriously slow sales and raise prices. Specifically, but not exclusively in the snow crab category. A perfect storm hit the category, lower quotas from the US, a crack down on illegal catches in the pacific and a 5 year gradual build on demand. Last year Canada broke a record with imports to the US due to the Alaskan quota reduction, but it also broke records on prices. Typically in the middle of the season prices drop or normalize after the supply builds, but this year they just continued to rise and never wavered. Being on the front line and seeing it unfold from the fisheries side, I tried to inform my clients that the prices would not come down and to buy early; but everyone was being cautious. So, the result was slow movement of product and a shift to other species. Buffets, in which snow crab was a stable started disappearing from their menus and the retail sector recoiled by reducing promotion of the product. A very quick lesson for me on seafood's commodity markets and how they react. This year there is a promise of increased bio-masses in our region, but with Alaska keeping their quota at the same level as 2016, who knows where the price will land this April. All I can say is work with us or your supplier to set up a good program if you can't do without snow crab in 2017; but I think you got that if you are a buyer.
The last thing that was a highlight in my first year in seafood, was the ability to build great relationships. I was concerned that working with professional buyers, that relationships would be very difficult to create (as I mentioned in my first post about the Boston seafood show). I have been able to build trust and reliability with many customers and look forward to creating more and building on the ones that I made in 2016.
Partner Seafood is heading into our 10th year in the business. I look forward to the 2017 season and continuing to learn along the way.
Nick Fanelli is the Sales & Marketing Manager @ Partner Seafood. His experience, in a number of fields has allowed him to change the way things are done here.