Many fishermen and processors are looking for new ways to get added value (and more dollars) from their catch, including how to process and/or package and sell their products. This year’s trade show at Summit will feature a special area on ‘seafood for consumption’, with vendors who will talk about the ins and outs of micro-processing, retailing value-added seafood items, and the regulations required to do so.
“Value-added seafood products, smaller package sizes and shoppers’ increasing demand for wild domestic seafood are trends fueling the U.S. seafood department sales,” said LSU AgCenter’s Pamela Hodson. “We want our fishermen, and dealers, to be able to take advantage of new markets for their seafood, so participants will be able to talk to experts about what is needed to get into the value-added market.”
The LSU AgCenter Food Incubator will demonstrate proper seafood packaging, particularly vacuum packing, throughout the day. The Food Incubator has helped many businesses learn to successfully process, package and retail their food products. They, along with LSU AgCenter School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, will serve as a one-stop source for people looking to break into the food business.
Starting a new business can be overwhelming, but there’s help to be had on finances and planning from Summit vendors. Representatives from TruFund Financial Services will provide information on their company’s affordable capital, hands-on business assistance and innovative solutions to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Or, learn about government grant and loan programs from USDA Rural Development. The LSU Business and Technology Center will offer assistance in developing a business plan – a roadmap needed to anyone considering starting a small seafood micro-processing facility.
There are tough federal and state regulations that govern food products to keep consumers safe. Sanitarians from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) will be available to clarify the requirements for seafood products processed in Louisiana, including guidelines on the permitting process. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry staff can answer questions on licensing and weights and measures (respectively).
“The Summit will have a variety of Louisiana seafood products on display from small, local seafood processors—some of them are also fishermen that decided to branch out,” said Hodson. “We hope that showing different types of packaging and labeling ideas will inspire potential micro-processors. Having experts available to help with the details may help people take that next step.”
A final key vendor in this ‘added-value’ section of Summit is the Certified Louisiana Wild Seafood program. Established by LDWF, this initiative works to ensure that customers and consumers are getting the freshest, best quality seafood in the world—Louisiana seafood. Participants can learn how to add the Certified label to their business and brand, and how it can help attract customers.
“We have seen the success of this type of micro-processing with Vermilion Bay Sweet (VBS) premium seafood products,” said Thomas Hymel, Seafood Direct Marketing/Branding Specialist at Louisiana Sea Grant/LSU AgCenter. “Originally a demonstration project with premium, hand-peeled jumbo shrimp, VBS was created to show the demand for a gourmet shrimp product that adhered to the highest quality standards in processing and sold for a premium price. The success of that product led to other partnerships processing gumbo shrimp and fish filets. VBS was the first product to carry the Certified Louisiana Wild Seafood label.”
The Summit is March 1, 2016 at the Pontchartrain Center. Lunch will be provided for all attendees who register in advance. Admission is free. For more information and to register visit: https://www.lafisheriesforward.org/summit/