Let the mass migration begin!

The seafood industry is on the move, converging in Boston this weekend for Seafood Expo North America. The event, located at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, runs from Sunday to Tuesday, March 13-15.

This international seafood event is a don’t-miss for our domestic seafood industry. If you are planning to attend, be sure to check out some of these must-see new products and conference sessions — including National Fisherman’s booth #167!

After a two-year hiatus, the industry is primed for this rush of productive in-person meetings, in-depth discussions, big announcements, and of course, a range of fun bonus events at and around the show. These are my picks for things to see and do at the show — whether you have the luxury of being there for one day or all three days.

For fishermen, the Processing section of the show floor — Seafood Processing North America — is a great spot to shop a wide range of fishing gear (boots, gloves, foul-weather gear, knives), as well as packaging options and a full range of machinery and technology for onboard handling and processing.

Alaskan Leader Seafoods is coming to the show with six new products — Crispy Battered Cod (for both retail and foodservice), Cod Burger, Halibut, Sablefish, and Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon.

“We’ve all waited two years for this. This is what the market is yearning for,” said Keith Singleton, president of the Value-Added Division for Alaskan Leader Seafoods, based in Edmonds, Wash. “All of our new products are easy to make, convenient, and stay fresh in the freezer until you’re ready to cook them — at a moment’s notice. Domestic buyers are looking for convenience, a robust nutritional profile, as well as simple and quick preparation. That’s what we’re bringing to the table.”

OBI Seafoods has confirmed that they are coming with “a full-scale and fully staffed exhibit,” according to a company release. “This is the first opportunity for the company to present its expanded capabilities to the world since the merger of Ocean Beauty Seafoods’ Alaska operations with Icicle Seafoods’ Alaska salmon and Gulf of Alaska groundfish operations to form OBI Seafoods in May 2020.”

OBI also brings new, award-winning products to the show, including two wild seafood products — Echo Falls Tapas Sliced Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon (perfect for your next seacuterie platter) and Hot Smoked Wild Alaska Sablefish.

The fruits of the domestic fishing industry are on full display on the show floor as well as highlighted in the New Product Showcase and Seafood Excellence Awards (in alpha order — see the full list here):

Alaskan Leader Seafoods — Wild Caught Alaskan Halibut, Alaskan Sablefish and Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon — Booth 1647

Bekina — StepliteX StormGrip (boots) — Booth 685

Handy Seafood — Chesapeake Bay Panko Breaded Oysters — Booth 823

Neptune Snacks — Wild Alaska Pollock Jerky — Booth 1739

Ocean Beauty Seafoods — Echo Falls Smoked Wild Alaskan Sablefish and Sockeye Salmon Tapas Slices — Booth 1205

Seagrove Kelp — Ribbon Kelp (foodservice) — Booth 1739

Pescanova USA — Protein Pasta made from Wild Alaska Pollock — Booth 1021

Domestic organizations to visit

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in Booth 1633 and 1739.

The Alaska Symphony of Seafood in Booth 1739

Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association in Booth 2742

Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation in Booth 146

Florida Department of Agriculture in Booth 405

Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative in Booth 2136

Maryland Department of Agriculture in Booth 1004

Mississippi Seafood Marketing in Booth 2143

North Carolina Department of Agriculture in Booths 553, 548, 549, 550 and 552

Seafood Oregon/Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission in Booth 1425

Virginia Marine Products Board in Booth 1617

Conference Highlights

These are my top picks, but be sure to check out the full schedule.

On Sunday

  • Datassential’s Mark DiDomenico will present on seafood trends and foodservice forecasts.
  • Seafood Quality is the topic for a panel that includes Chuck Anderson from Certified Quality Foods, Brandii Holmdahl from Bornstein Seafood and Christina DeWitt from Oregon State University’s Seafood Research and Education Center.
  • Join Peter Handy of Bristol Seafood, Lilani Dunn of the BBRSDA, Josephine Theal of Delaware North and Briana Warner of Atlantic Sea Farms to discuss hiring, diversity and the future of the seafood workforce.
  • NMFS Administrator Janet Coit will lead a packed NOAA panel.

On Monday

  • A panel on the annual Power of Seafood report from the Food Marketing Institute.
  • Linda Cornish of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership leads a discussion on the creation of a national seafood marketing campaign via the National Seafood Council.
  • How to Millennials make their purchasing decisions? Come for some answers courtesy of Luke Holden of Luke’s Lobster, Richard Stavis of Stavis Consulting, Nick Mendoza of Neptune Snacks and more.

On Tuesday

  • Talk plastics and carbon mitigation in seafood with Nicole Baker Loke of Net Your Problem, Dave Garforth of the Responsible Plastic Management Program and others.

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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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