Washington, D.C.-based Blue Circle Foods has high hopes for its value-added frozen portions and smoked seafood products in 2021, said Nina Damato, the company’s product director.

Blue Circle has been able to source additional species to add to its frozen line, she added. In late 2020 it added a sustainable vannamei shrimp from Ecuador to its mix, rounding out a line that also includes yellowfin tuna, Atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon and Atlantic cod.

Blue Circle’s value-added smoked products include hot smoked pepper and thick cut cold smoked salmon.  

Blue Circle defines value-added as seafood that has already largely been prepared (filleted, prepped, frozen, smoked, seasoned, etc.) so that the customer has less to worry about on their end, said David Pilat, the company’s vice president of product development.

“We’re starting to take this more literally as more and more customers are eating at home – the question we’re looking to answer now is how can we best prepare our food even more so that cooking a meal is even easier,” Pilat said. “We have a lot of exciting ready-to-cook/eat products in the pipeline.”

Blue Circle’s smoked salmon is one of its value-added best sellers, both in stores and online. Customers say they love the taste, which is rich and flavorful, and the fact that Blue Circle doesn’t treat its salmon with antibiotics or added hormones, Damato said.

“We keep the ingredient list clean and simple. No artificial preservatives or sugar – just salmon, smoke and salt.”

Blue Circle uses responsible sourcing methods to ensure that its fish are raised or fished in the most humane and environmentally friendly way, Damato said.

The company is also able to provide seafood to retail stores that hits on the things customers care about most, she added.

“Number one is quality. Our products have no antibiotics, artificial additives, or fillers. Number two, they’re cleanly sourced – our fish is 100% traceable from source to shop. And our fish is nutritional and healthy – a heathy protein chock full of antioxidants and omega-3s.”

A higher profile for commissaries

Blue Circle’s value-added products are increasingly finding homes in commissaries, central kitchens and other offsite facilities that supply value-added and other foods to retail grocers.

“We’re looking to expand in this area as we continue to develop new products that keep safety top of mind,” Damato said. “ We work closely with our customers to create products as close to finished as possible. This helps maintain a clean supply chain by reducing the number of times the product has to be manipulated — something even more important now than it was even just a year ago.”

Blue Circle recently conducted a survey asking consumers what their primary concerns are when it comes to purchasing seafood.

They told the company that price, quality and sustainability are their top concerns. It’s Blue Circle’s goal, Damato said, to prove to consumers that it’s possible to get quality, delicious seafood at competitive prices that also helps ensure the health and longevity of the environment.

“Consumers don’t need to compromise when it comes to purchasing seafood, and we hope to show that Blue Circle is a trusted vendor to deliver on these priorities,” she said.

When it comes to differentiating itself from the competition, Blue Circle is positioning itself as “the modern choice when it comes to purchasing fish,” Damato said. The company offers ecommerce options, innovative products and a promise to provide the most delicious seafood in the most responsible ways possible, she said.

“We are really looking forward to 2021. We have an exciting product roadmap that keeps those customer concerns top of mind, focusing on prepared food and new flavors,” Damato said. “In an evolving world in which health and accessibility have become paramount concerns, Blue Circle is dedicated to developing products for the modern shopper.”

Scallops au gratin

St. John’s, Newfoundland-based Labrador Gem Seafoods is now shipping its Canadian wild-caught, half-shell scallops in a value-added pack featuring bread crumbs and cheese. The oven-ready pack is ready in just three or four minutes and is a great appetizer for catering, foodservice or at home, according to Labrador Gem.

“Our bay and sea scallops are caught in the pristine, cold North Atlantic and brought live to our factory where they are hand cleaned and hand washed in sea water before they are frozen individually to -20 Celsius to maintain a 24 month shelf live,” according to the company.