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More retail fish packs going upscale in shift to restaurant quality fare.

More Retail Fish Packs Going Upscale In Shift to Restaurant Quality Fare

It's |goodbye' fish sticks, |hello' seafood extraordinnaire. From Deep Dish Lobster Bake to Gourmet Crepes, creative recipes are making the supermarket scene.

Don't look now, but frozen fish packers are increasingly unveiling more sophisticated new products to appeal to buyers bored with monotony. And the blurring of lines between retail and foodservice items has made for some excitement in supermarket cabinets.

"Chefs are bringing restaurant quality to retail," advises Caroline Perkins of Blue Crown International. The seafood consultant and broker cited recipes developed by Louisiana gourmand Paul Prudhomme for National Fish and Seafood of Gloucester, Mass., as a case in point.

Nancy Abrams of the Chicago Fish House sums up today's market as follows: "What's hot is any seafood product that is value-added or pre-prepared. Customers want top quality ingredients and familiar styles of preparation. Wholesalers are developing their own lines of prepared products."

Anyone who doubts the above need only have attended last month's Boston International Seafood Show or the Sea Fare International Seafood Exposition in Long Beach, Calif. Each venue provided a rich showcase of new product developments that reflect a refinement in recipe presentation. "There is a noticeable movement away from seafood as a commodity," said Ms. Perkins. "And packaging is really communicating product benefits."

Quick Frozen Foods International magazine dutifully surveyed thousands of company booths at both Boston and Long Beach. What follows are capsule reviews of some of the more innovative products served up.

Deep Dish Delights

Billed as "gourmet without the gourmet price," Deep Dish Lobster Bake and Shrimp Bake seafood pies are new from S&H Foods of Gainesville, Florida. Egg-free, the products feature a seven-grain crust filled with either lobster or shrimp, plus cream, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, mushrooms, onions, spinach, carrots, a touch of Grand Mariner and other ingredients. Formulated initially for the foodservice trade, a nine ounce (225g) retail pack is now being produced to sell in the $3.79 range. Surprisingly, the calorie count for the multi-serving pie in just 550.

Seafood Crepes

Gastronomie Gaspesienne Gourmet Crepes is another product that may lack a completed retail packaging design at this time, but is not short one thing in the recipe department. Produced in Quebec, Canada, and marketed in the USA by Great Northern Products Ltd. of Warwick, R.I., it offers nine shrimp and fish varieties. The former exclusively feature coldwater Pendalus borealis, and all will soon be available in 12-ounce boxes containing six units. A larger, four-ounce microwaveable size has been developed for the foodservice sector.

Lobster Gourmet

The Lobster Gourmet line of microwaveable entrees has been debuted by L. Meyer & Son. Produced in Miami from Caribbean warm-water rock lobster tails, the eight ounce packs are available with a number of garnishments, including fresh herb, garlic herb, lemon dill, Southwestern (chilies molido with tanerine) and Cajun style.

Premium Crab Cuts

Ocean Gold Alaska King Crab Premium Cuts is packed by Empire Alaska Seafoods and distributed by the Clouston Foods Group in North America and Europe. Frozen at sea and marketed in 1 1/2 pound (675g) boxes, serving suggestions call for the meat to be used in paellas, seafood chowders, soups, salads, omelettes and pastas.

Arctic Red Clams

The Nova Scotia Clam Co. of Mulgrave, N.S., Canada, unveiled Arctic Red Clam meat (Hokkigai or Spisula polynyma). The sweet, pre-marinated product serves up firm but not chewy. Whitish tan in color with red and purple highlighting, its composition is up to 90% meat -- consisting of clam feet, half cuts, adductors, wings, straps and whole body meat. Presented in a semi-cooked IQF or raw IQF state, packing is to customer specifications in vacuum-sealed polyethylene bags.

Squid Items

Lightly breaded Calamari Rings in 12 ounce (340g) packs have been introduced to the retail market under the Fisherman's Pride label. Made by Ruggiero Seafood Inc. of Newark, N.J., a processor that also offers non-frozen calamari salads and cocktails in jars.

Another New Jersey outfit, Sweet Water Seafood Corp. of Carlstadt, is packing Plumpy brand Calamari Squid. Featuring block frozen cleaned tubes with tentacles, a 2 1/2 pound retail box is produced, along with a standard five pound foodservice size.

Halibut Harkens

While plain old fish sticks may be synonymous these days with seafood monotomy, such is not the case when processors add value to the recipe. And Oceanor of Gaspe, Quebec, Canada, has done just that with its Breaded Halibut and Vegetables Sticks offering. The 350 gram retail box contains four pieces made of Greenland Halibut (Turbot) filled with broccoli and carrots.

The company also produces a number of other innovative items for the retail trade, including Shrimps and Halibut with Tarragon in Flaky Pastry, Breaded Mussels and Filet a la Procevcale.

Popcorn Shrimp

Singleton Seafood Co. of Tampa, Fla., is perhaps the first retail packer to capitalize on the popcorn shrimp trend that has caught on especially well among youngsters dining at family-style seafood restaurants in North America. No frying is required for the 10-ounce (283g) oven bake product, which is enrobed in "extra crunchy" breading. If preferred, however, the shrimp may be pan-fried or deep fat-fried.

Coco Cabana

Another noteworthy shellfish recipe development, but as of now for the foodservice market only, is Coco Cabana Shrimp. Produced by Fishking Processors Inc. of Los Angeles under the Mrs. Friday's label, the coconut breaded product is promoted as having a "light, sweet flavor that takes your taste to the tropics." The 21-25 count offering comes in 6/2 1/2 case packs.

Skewered P&D

Bee Gee Shrimp of Lakeland, Fla., is also selling a coconut breaded product (butterfly cleantail) under its Mariner Jack brand. But the company's latest introduction is a Skewered P&D Shrimp that can be sauteed, baked, broiled or grilled. With tails left on for appearance's sake, the shrimp are pinned on wooden skewers for exact portion control. Seven IQF pieces come per skewer, and each box contains 15 units.

Grilled Alfredo

While the award winning Treasure Isle brand Shore Grilled Shrimp line from National Sea Products is not new, its Alfredo Style recipe is. The foodservice item features green headless shrimp in a cream and cheese sauce. Ready to cook, it may be menued as an appetizer, entree or side dish. The Halifax, N.S., Canada-head-quartered processor supplies the product in tail-off, 31-35 count packs.

And More Shrimp

Other items of interest included Sharb Mini Stuffed Shrimp from Sea Harvest of Brunswick, Georgia; fully marinated Shrimp Marinique in scampi, fajita and teriyaki flavors from Tampa Maid Inc. of Tampa, Fla.; Shrimp Egg Roll Bites hor d'oeuvres from Matlaw's Food Products of New Haven, Conn.

Salmon Medallions

Frionor USA rolled out Norwegian Salmon Medallions at the Boston show. The product, roughly two inches in diameter and weighing one ounce per unit, can be used to create a variety of appetizers, hors d'oeuvres and entrees. Geared for upscale foodservice markets, medallions are vacuum-packed in fours with 40 packs (160 medallions) to a 10 pound case.

The company also introduced FishBites, which are bite-sized seafood chunks with light, spicy coatings. Fast food-oriented, they are available in two varieties -- hot 'n spicy and tender crisp (southern fried).


Coldwater Seafood Corp. has launched Icelandic brand SeaGrills. Made of pollock, the charred fillet steaks are precut for use in a sandwich or toasted bun. Other menu applications suggested include SeaGrill Fajitas and Salad Bistro.

A few additional finfish products that should be recognized include: Farm-Raised Arctic Char from Ocean Fresh Seafood of North Attleboro, Mass.; Icebay brand Stuffed Cod and Sole from Slade Gorton & Co. The Boston-headquartered company fills the fish with broccoli, au gratin, spinach and crab. The topping is made of butter crumb; Surimi-based pizza topping from SeaFest Jac Creative Foods of Motley, Minn. Marketed as Pizza Tasties, the imitation Italian sausage should appeal to pizza bakers interested in making low fat and reduced calorie "everything on it" pies for health-minded consumers. SeaFest has also come out with Lobster Tasties imitation lobster, which is derived from a blend of Pacific pollock and lobster flavors.

Mussel Power

A number of producers were showing off their mussels at both Boston and Long Beach. And the hard news was in flexible packaging. Blue Gold Sea Farms of New Bedford, Mass., for example, unveiled a 16-ounce (454g) Moules Marinieres offering in a convenient boil-in-bag pouch that requires just three to five minutes to prepare. The vacuum-packed French style product may also be microwaved. Sourcing of raw materials is from North Atlantic waters of America and Europe, including Bantry, Ireland.

Another Classic French Mussels Mariniere recipe is available under the Royal Blue brand turned out by C&L Seafoods of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. The rope-cultured, grit-free product is whole shell frozen and packed in 10.6 ounce (300g) single-serving boxes for the retail trade. Prepared with white wine, cream, butter, herbs, onions and garlic, each pack contains just 176 calories.

And from the South Pacific is Talley's New Zealand Greenshell Mussels. The perna Canaliculus species is available on the half shell in a new one kilo (35.27 ounces) box. It comes in two colors -- either apricot (female) or cream (male), each of which is said to impart the same delicate flavor.

The Port Motueka, Nelson-based company makes the most of the product's healthy attributes on its packaging: "They are high in protein, low in calories. . .and also contain Omega 3 fatty acids which are important in helping to prevent heart disease."

Crabs Travel Well

John T. Handy Company's latest innovations to preserve product quality are seen in packaging and freezing technique. The Chrisfield, Maryland-based outfit now packs freshly dressed crabs in cavity-trays specially designed to conform to body size, which provides extra protection from breakage during transit. The trays are vacuum-sealed with clear plastic, thus maximizing shelf life beyond conventional packaging methods.

As for processing, the blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) are being frozen with nitrogen in just 12 minutes' time. The cryogenic process insures a superior frozen product, points out Handy.

PHOTO : Retail packaging for the gourmet brand Deep Dish Lobster Bake from S&H Foods is still in the design stage, as seen in the mockup above.

PHOTO : Lobster Gourmet with Fresh Herb features Caribbean rock lobster tail. The eight ounce retail pack is distributed by L. Myer & Son Seafood Corp.

PHOTO : Preservative-free Shrimp Crepes from Gastronomie Gaspesienne Inc. has a shelf life of 18 months.

PHOTO : Ocean Gold brand |Premium Cuts' feature Alaska King Crab frozen at sea.

PHOTO : Fisherman's Pride label Calamari Rings is packed by Ruggiero Seafood, Inc.

PHOTO : The foodservice sector no longer has a monopoly on Popcorn Shrimp. ConAgra's Singleton Seafood company recently launched a 10 ounce (283g) pack of the product that has kids popping back for more in restaurants throughout North America.

PHOTO : Among the new items produced under the Oceanor label are Breaded Halibut and Vegetable Sticks (top) and Shrimps and Halibut with Tarragon in Flaky Pastry (above).

PHOTO : Delicate coconut shreds present appetizing eye appeal for the latest shrimp introduction from Mrs. Friday's.

PHOTO : New to the retail frozen hors d'oeuvres market is Shrimp Egg Roll Bites from Matlaw's. The filling also includes cabbage, celery, carrots and vegetable protein. Some 50 pieces come per 20 ounce box, which retails for about $3.99.

PHOTO : Frionor's Norwegian Salmon Medallions are expected to appeal to white tablecloth operations as well as cruise line and airline caterers.

PHOTO : New Zealand Greenshell Mussels from Talley's Fisheries are available in a one kilo retail box. The perna Canaliculus variety is frozen on the half shell.

PHOTO : Blue Gold's French Style Mussels offer the ultimate in convenient packaging. All the consumer has to do is place the boilin-bag pouch in steaming water for three to five minutes and its time to eat.

PHOTO : Mussels Mariniere under the Royal Blue label, packed in white wine and cream sauce, touts "less than 200 calories per serving" on the box facing.

PHOTO : Handy Soft Shell Crabs are now packaged in cavity trays that conform to the delicate creatures' body sizes, thus adding greater protection from breakage.
COPYRIGHT 1991 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Title Annotation:QFFI's Global Seafood Magazine; New Products Showcase
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Previous Article:Get ready for 'Alaskan McPollock' and the price surge it will bring.
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