Posts Tagged ‘seafood’

Sustainable Seafood: How Demonstrating Your Commitment to Integrity can Increase Your Revenue

January 30, 2013

As people become more environmentally aware of the impact their choices make, sustainably harvested seafood has come under the spotlight in restaurants around the country. Numerous fish species have been harvested to the point of decimation, and fisherman around the globe have come under scrutiny for their unsustainable practices.

As a result, people want fresh seafood and they want to know where it’s coming from before they buy. As such, it is a smart move on the part of every restaurant owner who serves fish and other types of seafood to not only ensure that there are sustainable species on their menus, but also to educate their servers and wait staff accordingly.

Educated Servers = More Sales, Happier Seafood Customers

One of the simplest ways to build your reputation (and thereby increase your revenue) in relation to seafood, is to educate your servers so that they can talk intelligently to customers about the seafood they are serving. With rapidly changing menus and a sea of information about the best choices in seafood, people are really confused about what is the right way to go.

Therefore, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate the quality of what you are serving to your customers and the care that you have taken in selecting it. The only way to do that is to provide your servers with the seafood education they need to adequately address consumer concerns.

Sustainable Seafood Programs Demonstrate Integrity

There are a variety of sustainable seafood programs that restaurant owners can participate in to ensure that they are offering ocean-friendly species to customers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is one such program. Partners of the Seafood Watch commit to removing all species from the Watch’s ‘avoid’ list from their menus as well as educating their servers about ocean-friendly seafood.

This organization (as well as few others) also has a nice Power Point presentation that they will send individuals for free which details species currently on the Watch list, if you’re interested in seeing how your menu compares.

Sustainable AND Local Seafood Make an Unbeatable Combination

While it’s important to avoid species of fish whose populations cannot be harvested sustainably, it’s equally important to select species of fish that are as local as possible. Locally harvested seafood not only has less environmental impact, but it also gives you the ability to build your good reputation further by supporting the local community.

You’d be amazed how much of a draw fresh, local, sustainably harvested seafood can create for your establishment. By making these kinds of changes, you are making a commitment to integrity – which goes a long way toward making your business stand out from amongst the crowd and increasing your revenue.

By investing in education for your servers about ocean-friendly seafood, you are ensuring that customers are aware of your environmentally conscious efforts to be an establishment that operates with integrity. Making this kind of commitment further increases the chances that those customers will help you spread the word about your eco-conscious, locally sourced menu.

Keys to Acquiring the Best Seafood

November 16, 2012

Serving the best seafood around does not result only from actions in the kitchen, but from buying seafood from the best possible sources. Today, most restaurants are planning their seafood menus using sustainable seafood lists, but to create really superb dishes, there is more to be done than to simply order your fish from the most popular producer and hope it ships on time. To have the best chance of getting quality, fresh seafood that is sustainable and in season, restaurant owners and chefs should invest in relationships with suppliers that understand their needs and are willing to work with the restaurant consistently. This kind of relationship results in opportunities to make truly special dishes that are unique and can really tell a story for your guests.

Trusted Suppliers

When you work with a seafood supplier, whether it is a small fishing operation or a large-scale fishery, a close relationship with a representative can give a restaurant many benefits. One of these is the peace of mind that they are working with a trusted business acquaintance, and that relationship helps to ensure that each piece of product that they use is of the highest quality. No supplier wants to lose a long-standing customer that gives them consistent business, so the motivation to ensure that all seafood is fresh and fit for preparation is incredibly high. To lose a restaurant as a customer would be too high a cost, especially for small, independently owned fishing operations.

Education and Information

Another reason for restaurant owners and chefs to maintain a relationship with their seafood suppliers is that the suppliers should be able to share valuable information about the products that they are supplying, or could supply, to the restaurant. Suppliers are an invaluable source of information about seasonality, sustainability, and many other factors that may help owners and chefs make pertinent decisions about their menus and ingredients. Chefs rarely have time to research this type of information for themselves so they value a close relationship with a supplier that will keep the buyer up-to-date on seafood-related news and developments.

Many restaurants have struggled with this aspect of finding the right supplier, even stating that while a supplier may have good products, the restaurant may still move on to another supplier because they did not receive the kind of communication and information that they needed.

To Each His Own

Cultivating relationships with seafood suppliers can be time consuming and difficult. This is why some restaurants opt for using just one trusted supplier for all of their seafood needs. Others prefer to diversify and use many different suppliers based on specialties or certain preferences.  For instance, a restaurant may use one supplier for all of their shellfish needs, but turn to a different operation for fish. Still others may have a different supplier for each type of fish they serve. In any case, the goal is to create a relationship (or relationships) in which restaurant owners and chefs can learn new things and create the best possible dishes with the best product available.

Japanese Seafood Safe In Spite of Fukushima Bloomberg Says

May 26, 2011

Those serving seafood which is caught near Japan can rest easy according to a report in Bloomberg News. Readers will of course remember that the Fukushima nuclear plant suffered a partial meltdown after the recent earthquake and tsunami which inundated the island nation. One of the big concerns that had emerged from the nuclear plant’s damage was that contaminated water was finding its way into the Pacific Ocean, potentially damaging seafood there and rendering it inedible.

The report in Bloomfield News, however, says that tests conducted on seafood in another part of the world, the UK, where radiation has leaked from the Sellafield nuclear waste plant in the north of the country has shown that food safety was not compromised. In spite of the plant dumping massive amounts of cesium 137 into the Irish Sea, causing concern for the seafood caught in the area, catches have shown that the seafood has had less than half the recommended limits of radiation in them when caught. This research, according to Richard Wakeford, of University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute would seem to indicate that a long term ban on Japanese seafood is not necessary to protect consumers.

This is good news at a time when seafood is dwindling all over the world due to overfishing of popular species and when the cost of the catch is rapidly rising as well due to the ongoing oil crisis and the rapid industrialization of China. Still, in the short term at least, it may be prudent to avoid serving seafood from the south Pacific so that your customers will not be concerned about the radiation levels, low though they may be in such products. It is also worth noting that other food products which come from Japan seem to be largely unaffected as the radiation levels in tested food products are still well below the recommended limits in spite of the Fukushima disaster.

Kroger Goes Environmentally Friendly

May 12, 2011

In a sign that they are going after a more environmentally conscious market, Kroger supermarkets, which runs a large chain of grocers in the Midwest, announced recently that they would be eliminating marlin, shark and bluefin tuna from their menu of fresh fish. The plan comes after intense scrutiny of the company the World Wildlife Fund, which pushed the company to create a more sustainable seafood plan.

Ultimately, Kroger says they plan on offering nothing but “certified” seafood products by the year 2015. The first step for the company was to pull the severely overfished marlin, shark and bluefin tuna from their fresh seafood selection – though they do not intend to stop just with those fish. The company has announced that they plan to work with the World Wildlife Fund and with the Marine Stewardship Council to become a model of sustainable sourcing for food in the United States. Specifically, the company plans to carefully monitor the products they sell which are caught in the wild so as to minimize the chance that they will cause irrevocable damage to the world’s ecosystem.

Of course, Kroger’s plan alone, while a brilliant marketing ploy, is unlikely to have a major impact on the consumption of these products as consumers who want to eat endangered fish can easily shop at any of the Kroger rivals who have thus far ignored calls to engage in a new, sustainable policy for their seafood sourcing.

Still, the World Wildlife Fund has said that they are hopeful that other grocers will follow suit and voluntary decide to restrict the offerings made in their stores so as to ensure that these species can replenish their stocks naturally. It also worth noting that the plan by Kroger affects exclusively wild-caught fish stocks and not farmed fish, which are already carefully controlled and are thus not in any danger of falling victim to overfishing.