Adding value to products sold in grocery perimeter departments is a great way to attract convenience-minded customers and to increase sales and margins — and fresh seafood is no exception to the rule.

Jacksonville, Florida-based Sea Best Corp. defines value-added as something “that starts with a core seafood product, and is thoughtfully and tastefully enhanced to meet a demand or trend in the marketplace,” says Bluzette Carline, the company’s marketing director.

However you define it, Sea Best has seen an uptick in demand for value-added in recent years — driven in large part, Carline says, by a consumer education gap.

“Although seafood comes in all shapes and sizes, it can be somewhat unsatisfying if you don’t know what to do with it,” she says. “Consumers want more exciting flavors and innovations that make it fun and interesting on the plate. They want items that are ready to cook and deliver on taste.”

Sea Best creates its value-added items in-house, Carline says, which gives the company “the benefit of innovation.” “Our manufacturing plant provides us the flexibility to create just about anything,” she says. “From hand-crafted seafood cakes to stuffed fillets and deviled crabs, our portfolio is very expansive. And our customers love the fact that we offer the ability to customize a proprietary blends and items.”

To give its value-added program a boost, Sea Best has recently invested in in-house corporate culinary and R&D teams and in-house nutrition specialists. Each of those groups brings expertise to the exploration of the company’s core competencies and how it can utilize them to create new value-added solutions.

When it comes to top value-added sellers for Sea Best, two stand out for Carline.

“Specialty cakes and stuffings,” she says. “These items stand out as special, for the fact that they are delicately created with unique and sometimes proprietary ingredients that stand apart from any other in the industry.”


A bigger slice of the pie

David Pilat, vice president of business development for Washington, D.C.-based Blue Circle Foods, has a simple definition of value-added seafood: “Making fish better by adding other ingredients and making it ready to cook.”

Blue Circle’s latest foray into value-added, the Happy Fish line, is now being sold in five sales regions of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market. Happy Fish are quick-cooking small salmon patties cut into the shapes of fish, with just a touch of salt and pepper added, Pilat says — no breading.

“It’s a terrific product, great for children and adults alike,” he says. “You can sauté it, throw it in with pasta, broil it, and it holds together. It’s a great way to get people to start adding fish to their diet, and it’s a value, too.”

Consumers have told Blue Circle Foods that they love the ease of Happy Fish, Pilat says. “It cooks about two minutes to a side,” he says. “That’s what folks want — it tastes good and it’s easy. If it’s going to be ingredient-prepared for them, they want to be able to come home  and cook it with ease. It makes it really easy to eat healthy fish.”

Smoked salmon is another value-added product that has become an increasingly important part of Blue Circle Foods’ portfolio.

The company offers two lines of smoked salmon for retailers: Changing Seas (made exclusively for Whole Foods) and Blue Circle Norwegian Arctic.

Blue Circle Foods smoked salmon is seasoned and smoked using specially crafted smoking methods to ensure premium quality and taste, Pilat says. After being salted and seasoned, it’s gently cured under carefully controlled humidity and temperature conditions, then slowly cold smoked at 82 degrees over a fire of locally-smoked beechwood.

“We started as a fresh salmon company, but we now sell a lot of smoked salmon,” Pilat says. “Smoked is one of the things we’ve really focused on, as we’ve shifted into more value-added.”

For value-added seafood products to sell, people have to feel like they really are a value, Pilat says — namely, that they’re easy to take home and cook.

Value-added hasn’t always been a top priority for Blue Circle Foods. But it’s quickly becoming one.

“It’s about to become a bigger piece of pie,” Pilat says. “We’re really proud of Happy Fish, and we’re going to launch more value-added products over the next year and a half.”


Thaw-and-sell value-added alternative

New Bedford, Massachusetts-based Pier Fish Co. Inc.’s full line of fully prepared seafood entrees can be prepared by consumers in minutes. “These products answer today's consumer demand for exceptional flavor, exciting variety and heat and serve convenience,” according to Pier Fish. Product ships frozen and can be thawed and offered in the fresh case as a thaw-and-sell program, eliminating excessive shrink, reducing in-store labor and ensuring product consistency.

Items in Pier Fish’s value-added line include:

  • Shrimp & Scallop Wellington
  • Cod Medley with Shrimp & Scallops
  • Salmon Pinwheel with Lobster Stuffing
  • Salmon Pinwheel with Crab Stuffing
  • Salmon Pinwheel with Spinach Feta
  • Bourbon Salmon
  • Salmon Wellington
  • Salmon Patties
  • Cod with Crab Stuffing
  • Sole with Crab Stuffing
  • Sole with Lobster Stuffing
  • Cod with Lobster Stuffing


Custom programs for retail

Vaughan, Ontario-based Seacore Seafood Inc. provides a variety of value added ready-to-cook seafood products through its OceanPrime Market banner.  “Today's market demands value-added products that consumers can purchase and are ready to go,” according to Seacore. “Seacore has been working over the years to develop such products to meet this ever-growing demand.” Items in the OceanPrime Market lineup include a highly successful premium Seafood Skewers product, Salmon Torenadoes, Victoria Tilapia and custom fresh Crab Cakes. Seacore also works with its retail partners to develop their own unique value-added products and recipes.