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Editor's Note: Assume nothing

Property of SeaFood Business magazine
By Fiona Robinson, Editor in Chief
June 01, 2009

Ever since the economy began to nosedive last fall and restaurants all over the country started closing their doors, retail experts have assumed that a lot of money consumers saved by not eating out as much would be spent at retail instead. Not so fast.

As this played out over the past six months, every retailer I spoke with also mentioned lean times, give or take a few independent retailers that are bucking the trend. So I asked John Snyder to look into this assumption that retail seafood was benefiting from the sluggish economy. Snyder, a freelance writer and seafood industry veteran, found that's not exactly the case (see Top Story, p. 16).

Seafood is the most expensive of the four main protein categories and is still considered a luxury item by most consumers - a luxury they can skip in lean times. Combine the waning enthusiasm for seafood with higher prices for some species like Chilean farmed salmon, and supermarkets have their work cut out for them.

Aside from the supposed retail windfall, another assumption is that consumers will know how to cook seafood once they get it home. Wrong. The popularity of prepared items at the seafood counter is evidence that consumers still need help cooking the protein. Contributing Editor Christine Blank interviewed several independent retailers for this issue's What's in Store column and found they are seeing a surge in demand for ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat seafood items.

One part of the country that probably bucks the cooking-seafood-at-home trend is Alaska, which celebrates its 50th anniversary of statehood this year. Readers will find a special section in this issue (Alaska's Golden Anniversary, p. 21) devoted to Alaska's seafood processors. Alaskans endure extreme harvesting and processing conditions, huge transportation costs and unbearable weather to get seafood on dinner plates worldwide and they deserve the utmost respect. Despite being one of the country's youngest states, you'll find as you peruse the pages in this special section that Alaska's seafood industry has a rich history worth celebrating.


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