The New England Food Show in early April at the Boston Convention Center, which followed hard on the huge international Fish Expo, featured a regional cluster of fish-related companies mixed into a broader group of foodies of every stripe. The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries hosted and supported this eclectic cluster of fish-based businesses working in and around the Commonwealth.
We much enjoy these shows, conventions, expos, whatever you want to call them, mainly for the opportunity to meet interesting people and check out intriguing initiatives. Here’s a quick photo rundown of some participants:
Wendy Folinari (left), who leads seafood marketing at the state level, invited every Massachusetts seafood wholesaler she could email, roughly 350 businesses, and offered a deal; DMF will pay for your space provided you come for all three days, and offer samples (always a great way to get people to a booth). A diverse group took her up on that, joined by visitors like State Representative Susan Gifford, whose district includes Wareham. Wendy’s hope for all: “One good connection a day.”
Bill Doyle and family, from Plymouth Rock Oyster Growers, manages three farms, all oysters, with a lot of his seed coming from the Cape and ARC, the hatchery in Dennis. He put COVID’s impact into perspective: The week of March 12, 2020, he moved 27,200 oysters into the market. Then COVID struck. For the eight weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, he moved a total of 700 oysters – all eight weeks. Now, thankfully, demand is back.
Captain Marden’s is one of the best-known fish names around Boston, a family-run distributor and retail market in business since 1945; Roy Marden is the captain’s grandson. Roy was serving a spread made from smoked halibut, believe it or not; our boats are allowed to land only one halibut per trip, but up in Nova Scotia plenty more are harvested. Scraps after filleting make the spread, and Marden’s buys Cape product too like oysters and clams, stripers, black sea bass, and bluefin tuna.
Ross Hutchens from Raw Seafoods, which has a big state-of-the-art processing facility in Fall River, also has roots on the New Bedford waterfront and a strong track record with scallops. But they are diversified and handle all kind of fish, including supplying WholeFoods supermarkets.
Calamari Fisheries, part of the well-known Daily Catch restaurant scene, lands a lot of squid in season, caught mainly in Nantucket Sound by three local boats, said Ashley Freddura. Their next innovation, they hope: Squid meatballs.
Orri Gustafsson helps with business development for Aquanor, a major marketing outfit now part of a gigantic Icelandic seafood company called Samherji (don’t try to pronounce it) – gigantic means close to a billion dollars annually in sales. Gustafsson says that Icelandic processing at that scale creates opportunities to innovate, including ways to process and sell what we think of as by-products; fish bellies, spines, heads. That’s where the future growth of the industry is headed, he believes – along with the land-based farmed salmon he’s showcasing here.
Peter Hubert and Gary Rodrigues held down the fort at Eastern Fisheries. This is a vertically integrated company with a strong presence in New Bedford, meaning they do everything from owning and running boats to processing, sales, you name it. The Enokson family is famous mainly for their scallop effort; the company could well land and move more scallops than any other entity in the country.