For retail seafood departments, Fortune Fish & Gourmet, Bensenville, Illinois, markets yellowfin tuna steaks and portions, tuna loins to-cut in store, tuna and swordfish tray packed portions, swordfish steaks and portions and swordfish loins to-cut in store.
“These are usually our staple top-selling seafood items,” says Stacy Schultz, Fortune’s director of marketing and sustainability coordinator.
In recent years, she adds, Fortune has seen an increase in value added and frozen items. That said, fresh is the niche that has worked out best for Fortune.
“Our fresh hand-cut items have been the most popular. They are of the utmost quality and the best around.”
When it comes to popularity, tuna is gaining ground faster than swordfish, Schultz says — in large part related to the predictability of pricing from week to week.
“Swordfish pricing fluctuates more and that tends to influence purchasing popularity — for the retail establishment and the customer off the street,” she says. “If pricing is high and the retailer doesn’t carry fresh swordfish, then the customer off the street doesn’t have the product available for purchase.”
Pricing and availability for both species, however, are highly affected by seasonality and weather, Schultz says. Both tuna and swordfish are migratory top predatory species that swim great distances to follow food.
Another reason for tuna’s popularity has to do with trendy dishes in which it’s a main ingredient, Schultz says.
“Tuna is gaining in popularity due to increased sales of poke bowls and sushi grab and go.”
Seasonality also affects purchasing trends of consumers in that both yellowfin tuna and swordfish are viewed as great grilling fish.
When it comes to merchandising, most Fortune product is sold from a fresh counter, Schultz says. In addition, 10-K OTR film (highly permeable vacuum-sealed film that complies with FDA oxygen transmission rates) is commonly used to wrap fish packed in trays, making fresh fish case- ready for customers to grab and go.
“Some of these trays are oven-ready, and when packed with fish, a marinade or herbed butter, they’re more convenient for the home cook,” she says. “And convenient packaging that can be used in meal kits is also increasing in demand.”
No discussion of contemporary retail marketing of fresh tuna and swordfish would be complete, Schultz says, without considering the impact sustainability has had on the markets for both fish.
“Seafood sustainability has become a priority for our retail partners. Fortune Fish & Gourmet has made selling sustainable seafood a priority since the day we opened.
The company has a marine biologist on staff heading its sustainability program, and Fortune is a founding member of a Seapact, a non-profit organization of like-minded North American seafood companies dedicated to driving stewardship and continuous improvement of social, economic, and environmental responsibility throughout the global seafood supply chain, she says.
A commitment to artisan, small-scale
McKinleyville, California-based Wild Planet Foods sells only 100% sustainably caught wild tuna. All of the company’s tuna products feature whole loin muscle and are nutritionally-dense and lower in mercury, due to the smaller size of the fish used.
New tuna products from Wild Planet include sashimi-grade whole fillet and skipjack wild tuna packs.
The sashimi-grade whole fillets are 43 ounces of wild albacore tuna and ship 6 to a case. Product is packed with a touch of pure sea salt and cooked just once in the pouch to retain all of the rich Omega 3 natural juices.
The new sashimi product features no added water, oil or fillers. Each pouch yields a full 43 ounces of delicious wild albacore tuna.
The skipjack product, also 43 ounces, contains no added salt and is perfect for low-sodium diets, according to Wild Planet. The company hand packs its raw Skipjack tuna loins with no added salt or liquids, and cooks them just once, in the pouch, to retain all the rich Omega 3 natural juices.
Light in color with big tuna flavor, simply mix the natural juices into the tuna for enhanced flavor, nutrition and maximum yield.
All Wild Planet Foodservice products are certified non-GMO, and the company offers a wide variety of merchandising materials to support retailers’ tuna sales.
Wild Planet offers a wide variety of merchandising materials to help retailers inform their customers that they care about offering them the very best tuna in a responsible and sustainable way.
Counter cards, table tents and napkin dispenser signs are among the materials Wild Planet can provide its retail partners.
Wild Planet sources albacore and skipjack tuna only from pole and troll fisheries. This artisanal, small-scale method is primarily practiced by family fishermen, and used by numerous fleets around the world.
“They deserve our support. Though not the most profitable method or the most efficient, this catch method is considered a best choice in harvest technique by a consensus of international environmental organizations studying this issue,” according to Wild Planet.