This Week in Seafood: March 9, 2020

This Week in Seafood: March 9, 2020

COVID-19 – While the threat of coronavirus in our area remains low, we are still taking many precautions to assure our products and employees remain safe. We are an SQF Level III facility, the highest certification a food processor can have. That said, we already have a number of policies in place to assure we are putting out the safest food possible. In our latest third party inspection we scored a 98% – close to perfect. As that score shows, we take our food safety program very seriously. We have a food safety expert on staff every day who is observing all employees and making sure nobody showing any signs of illness is permitted in our building. We have instituted a no visitor policy in our offices and warehouse facilities until further notice. 
Our Good Manufacturing Policies (GMPs) are our first line of defense for preventing the spread of bad bugs to the food we process and from person-to-person.
These GMPs include :

  • HAND WASHING
  • PREVENTION OF CROSS-CONTAMINATION
  • MAINTENANCE OF HAND-WASHING AND TOILET FACILITIES
  • PEST CONTROL
  • EMPLOYEE HEALTH CONDITIONS
  • LABELING
  • PROTECTION FROM ADULTERANTS

The biggest thing we can all do to prevent our staff and our customers from being sick is proper and thorough hand washing. Using hand sanitizer is not a substitute for hand washing, just an additional kill step for bacteria. 

BOSTON SEAFOOD SHOW CANCELED FOR FIRST TIME EVER – The 40th annual International Boston Seafood Show, scheduled for next weekend (3/15-3/17), has been canceled. Faced with the prospect of no one showing up and vendors pulling out daily, organizers canceled the event. They say they are trying to reschedule later this year but that seems doubtful.

SHIPPING FISH VIA AIRFREIGHT BECOMING A MAJOR PROBLEM – So as we “distance ourselves socially”, that means fewer people flying which means fewer planes in the air which means less air cargo space. Most of our overseas shipments are getting “bumped” at least once. We wouldn’t call it a crisis yet but it could become one…stay tuned.
4. OMEGA PROTEIN BOWS TO PRESSURE FROM FEDS – In a major victory for conservationists and the native species of the Chesapeake Bay, Omega Proteins will be forced to abide by a federally ordered annual quota of 51,000 metric tons of menhaden.  Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross recently issued a statement stating that the Canadian-owned company (Cooke Aquaculture) “willfully violated the fishing cap on menhaden inside the Chesapeake Bay”. Only the threat of a complete ban on fishing for menhaden, convinced the company to change their ways. WHY ARE MENHADEN SO IMPORTANT ? This fish has been called the most important fish that swims and is the critical “base of the food chain” in the Bay’s ecosystem. Almost every species in the Chesapeake depends on menhaden as a primary food source. It is especially important to the wild rockfish and is the primary bait used to catch blue crabs. Cooke Aquaculture, which grows Atlantic salmon in open-cage ocean aquaculture all over the globe, bought Omega Protein in December of 2017 for $22 a share CASH or $500 MILLION !  The animal feed ingredients produced by Omega Protein are an important component in Cooke Aquaculture’s global production of Atlantic salmon, making this acquisition a strategic move that enhances Cooke’s vertical integration.

ATLANTIC SAPPHIRE LOSES 227,000 FISH — High nitrogen levels in one section of their Danish RAS system killed 227,000 fish last week. The company says they have identified and corrected the problem. The response from Wall Street was swift and brutal. Their stock lost $150 million in value the next day. Their Florida operation, south of Miami, is still on schedule to harvest their first USA GROWN Atlantic salmon later this year. By 2030, that’s right, less than a decade, they will be producing 50 PERCENT OF THE US CONSUMPTION of Atlantic salmon from their Florida operation alone. How much salmon is that ?  Only 8-10 million pounds A WEEK ! There are huge changes coming to the salmon industry this decade.

TWO THIRDS OF LOCAL MARYLAND PICKING HOUSES DO NOT HAVE PICKERS !!Maryland’s seafood industry is facing a massive shortage of laborers to pick and process crab meat for the second time in three years and is pleading with the Trump administration to increase a limit on foreign guest workers. Maryland agriculture officials estimate that could cost the state more than 1,000 jobs and as much as $150 million in economic activity. 7. VENZ JUMBO DROPS BELOW $15 A POUND !! – In yet another sign of the effects of the coronavirus on business in general, fresh Venezuelan HPP Jumbo Lump dropped to a new low for 2020, under $15/lb. That means you can produce and advertise an ALL JUMBO LUMP crabcake for $3.75 each! The current Venz price level is $8 per pound UNDER the average price of Indo pasteurized jumbo lump. We did hear this morning that they have quit picking on Lake Maracaibo to allow the market to recover. There is enough meat to get through this week and most of next at these reduced prices.


AMERICAN SHAD RUNNING IN PAMLICO RIVER, NC- In a sure sign of spring, American shad are running in the Pamlico River in North Carolina. They are also running locally in some Northern Neck Virginia rivers. Large shad roe come 8 sets to a tub and are selling for $8.50 per set. Try this local delicacy soon as they don’t hang around long! 9. LIVE LOBSTERS 25% LESS THAN LAST YEAR THIS TIME – The bloodbath in the lobster market continues. With no flights from Nova Scotia to China or South Korea, Canadian lobster companies are being forced to ship to the already sluggish US market and the result is predictable.  The second week of March last year (2019), Congressional Seafood was selling 1.5 lb live lobsters for $12.95. This week halves are only $9.95!

DAYBOAT LOCAL OCEAN CITY SCALLOPS ONLY 23 DAYS AWAY ! – Captain Derrick Hoy is all fired up about about the start of dayboat scallop season April 1. He leaves his slip in West Ocean City at 3 am, steams 30 miles east to the Elephant’s Trunk, catches and shucks his daily limit of 600 lbs of Atlantic sea scallops, and is back to the dock by 3 pm the same day. These scallops are without a doubt the freshest and sweetest tasting scallop you have ever tasted. Plan on promoting this great local item from April through September


HAVE A GREAT WEEK – AND REMEMBER…WASH YOUR HANDS!!

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