In a March 2012 article in Food Arts magazine entitled “Right Off the Boat,” author Katy Keiffer describes how innovative technology in the seafood industry is creating a more direct connection between fisherman and the restaurants that they serve. As chefs and diners seek increased contact with and knowledge about the source of their food, companies like Wild Rhody and Sea to Table are bringing higher levels of transparency to the fishing industry. Wild Rhody allows chefs to be in constant contact with their fisherman, ensuring that the catch of the day is consistent with the always changing demand of the customers. When fishermen return to the dock with their daily catch, Sea to Table works to ensure that the fish are shipped to markets (that are landlocked or may not have access to a certain type of fish) the very next day. No matter where the fish is caught, companies like these two are effectively bridging the gap between fishermen and the national market.
So what does this mean for the Louisiana seafood and restaurant industry? If implemented correctly, the technology and distribution network used by companies like Sea To Table and Wild Rhody can create a competitive edge for all players in the industry. Fishermen have the potential to increase their selling price by branding themselves as accountable, next-day shippers.
Fishermen can also cater their product to specialty grocery retailers like Whole Foods that are committed to sourcing sustainable seafood. Similarly, local restaurants can build a brand by working directly with fishermen and becoming known for seafood so fresh that customers can taste the difference.
At EMH, we want to help restaurants and fishermen harness this potential, and our consultants have experience with the design and improvement of distribution processes within the seafood industry. In the case of one local Louisiana seafood industry player, we laid the foundation for more efficient distribution methods and set the client on course for more streamlined operations. The new distribution strategies developed by EMH consultants helped our client extend its reach to wholesale and retail markets. By leveraging new shipping technology, the Louisiana seafood we know and love can be transported with ease across the country, thereby bridging the gap between local fishermen and national restaurants. Fishermen get to sell, and customers get to enjoy the unique flavors of the Gulf South. Certainly a win-win.