Distributors and suppliers shifting focus to retail as restaurant profits plunge

By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource

The reaction from U.S. consumers to the COVID-19 pandemic has scrambled how Americans are buying seafood. In response, U.S. foodservice distributors and seafood suppliers are shifting their focus away from a shriveling restaurant scene and putting more focus on supplying retailers.

As evidence of how badly restaurants have been hit by a crisis that has seen many restaurants forced to shift to take-out or close entirely, a number of major restaurant chains have announced significantly decreased earnings.

Orlando, Florida-based Darden Restaurants, which operates Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, and the Capital Grille, said that its same-restaurant sales for the current week plunged 60 percent, Marketwatch reported. On 20 March, Darden said it will close all of its 1,800 restaurant dining rooms across the U.S…

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Netuno USA offers quick-serve shrimp meals in three flavors for retail, five for foodservice

By Jason Huffman, Undercurrent News

Netuno USA, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based seafood distributor and importer, has launched a group of 10 oz. shrimp meals that can be prepared in less than 10 minutes.  

The Saute’ ‘n Serve product line was crafted by American and European chefs and is “handmade in a state-of-the-art Vietnamese facility under the strictest food safety requirements”, the company said in a press release issued less than two weeks before the originally scheduled dates of the Boston seafood show.

Each meal each includes four ounces of Aquaculture Stewardship Council-certified shrimp, all natural ingredients, no preservatives and no genetically modified organisms, Netuno reports. The product is being offered in three varieties for retail, including etouffee, scampi and Thai coconut curry, though more flavors and protein options are in development and estimated to launch later this year.

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Bahamas cuts conch quota by half

By Amanda Longoria, NETUNO USA

NETUNO supports the Bahamas in their efforts to prevent overfishing of Queen Conch. While this will affect supply of NETUNO brand conch and conch batter, it is necessary to replenish stock, which failed to meet targets in some areas of the Bahamas, per recent studies.

The seafood industry should prepare for lower inventory levels and higher prices due to this announcement, but if the Bahamas succeeds in recovering this stock quickly, it should only last for the season. Ultimately this is for the good of the species and helps ensure availability of conch for future generations.

NETUNO agrees to contract for Venezuelan spiny lobster MSC Certification pre-assessment

By Amanda Longoria, NETUNO USA

Today NETUNO’s Andre Brugger finalized the contract for a third-party pre-assessment of the Venezuelan spiny lobster fishery.

“This is a huge step toward sustainability for this fishery,” comments Brugger, who is the Sustainability, Quality, & Compliance Manager. “Once the pre-assessment is completed, we will have a better understanding of the health of the fishery.”

NETUNO, along with other stakeholders and governing authorities, have made progress toward passing all major indicators. “The results of the pre-assessment will help us determine if we have done enough or if additional changes are needed,” says Brugger. Fisheries need 28 out of 28 passing indicators to achieve the MSC certification label.

NETUNO, others exit 2020 Seafood Expo in Boston amid coronavirus concerns

By Amanda Longoria, NETUNO USA

President Luciano Bonaldo’s formal statement: “After careful deliberation and monitoring of the situation, we’ve decided not to attend the Seafood Expo in Boston this year. We would like to avoid putting our team at unnecessary risk of exposure and hope that our partners, customers, and vendors understand our position.”

NETUNO invested heavily in marketing this year to help support their new line of value-added shrimp, Sauté ‘n Serve. The product launched last year for foodservice and a retail launch is expected later this year.

They planned to use their platform in Boston to allow customers to preview the retail packaging of their products and entered the “New Product Showcase” competition. As finalists for best product for foodservice, they were expected to present their Thai Coconut Curry to judges at the show.

“We are disappointed that we will not be there to show what a great product Sauté ‘n Serve is, for both foodservice and retail. We are actively looking for other ways to demonstrate this product to potential customers and hope to be able to showcase it at other food shows later this year,” says Sales & Marketing Director, Amanda Longoria.

Other companies have also made the decision to exit the show, as reported by SeafoodSource and Undercurrent News. Since the start of the outbreak, coronavirus has affected markets, travel, and business as usual.