North Coast Seafoods charts course for sustainable seafood with Naked product line

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/subtik
Image: Getty/subtik

Related tags Seafood Sustainability Aquaculture

With its vertically integrated supply chain, family-owned North Coast Seafoods connects directly with its fishing partners around the world while providing transparent communications around seafood sourcing to consumers, as Christian L'Heureux, the company's marketing manager, told FoodNavigator-USA.

Established in 1957, North Coast, headquartered in Boston, Mass., operates two processing facilities in the state, distributing domestic and international wholesale seafood for retail grocery and food service providers.

The company sources directly from its global fishing partners, which provides a wider availability of different species, including farmed salmon from Norway, blue swimming crab from Indonesia, and cod and haddock from Iceland. North Coast can maintain quality for its wild-caught seafood, which must remain cold as soon as it is out of the water and move through the chain of custody “as quickly as possible,” within its vertically integrated operations, L’Heureux explained.

“Seafood is truly a global business, so the partnerships we have are truly paramount. The trust and the understanding of the quality expectations and being aligned on sustainability measures and sustainability commitments together is huge in terms of finding a … quality consistent level of seafood,” L’Heureux said.

North Coast streamlines its procurement by sourcing directly from its domestic and international fishing partners, “so it is not going through a middleman … before it comes to us,” he added.

Depending on species availability, the company sources domestically when possible. For example, North Coast sources its cod from Iceland as cod from Cape Cod has reached "a level that is not sustainable" for retail due to overfishing, L’Heureux noted.

The company also has a direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel, which began during the COVID-19 pandemic, that remains a small but consistent part of its business, L’Heureux said.

North Coast’s Naked Seafood line provides traceable offerings

North Coast’s Naked Seafood line includes a variety of sustainable flash-frozen seafood within minutes to hours of harvest, including raw shrimp, Norwegian salmon filets, wild cod, Scottish style smoked salmon and scallops, among others.

The DTC line provides consumers with information around the seafood’s origins on its packaging, including how it was caught, recipe ideas and educational videos​. Certifications range from Best Aquatic Practice and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) to Marine Stewardship Council, depending on the species.

For North Coast’s Naked Norwegian farmed salmon, consumers can find its ASC certification directly on the packaging, which serves as an additional layer of transparency. The ASC label is “a good consumer-facing way to add a level of confidence and assurance that there has been oversight and independent auditing over the entire story of the [salmon] story for us,” L’Heureux elaborated.

Certifications and transparency around aquaculture will provide consumers with more clarity around an otherwise stigmatized method, L’Heureux added.

“There is a knee-jerk stigma that comes along with farmed salmon … It is coming from these huge fjords that are super deep and super clean. These pens are not in a dirty pond somewhere … [which] is where the end consumers’ mind goes to first when they hear ‘farm-raised seafood’ or ‘farmed salmon,’” he said.

North Coasts’ Naked Seafood line intends to provide additional resources to “dispel some of those myths … and shed a little bit of light to educate,” L’Heureux added.

He points out that despite the number of terrestrial animal farms (i.e., chicken, beef and pork), wild seafood “is our only wild protein source remaining,” underscoring the critical role of responsible and sustainable sourcing around the world.

He continued, “Everything else that we eat is farm-raised or cultivated in some way. So, it is fascinating to think about it in that way.”

                                                                                                                                          

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