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Editor's Note: Are you getting robbed?
By Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher, Editor
May 01, 2010
I've lost count of the seafood suppliers I've met over the years who say their product is "of the highest quality in the industry." What are they going to say - the truth? They add extra glaze on the product to bump the weight up so they can make a better margin?
Finally, the seafood industry's "dirty little secret" has been brought to light. Last month's investigation by 17 state weights-and-measures departments led to 21,000 frozen seafood products that included the weight of the glaze in the net weight being pulled from store shelves. SeafoodSource Assistant Editor April Forristall documents the resulting mainstream media coverage, and consumers' outrage, in Media Watch on p. 12.
It feels like déjà vu, as SeaFood Business has written about fraud many times, most recently in the July 2009 cover story, Sold Short. Dealing with fraud is an uphill battle that some in the industry have fought for decades. The Better Seafood Board has gained some traction with the issue over the past few years. But where there may be a handful of companies found guilty of over-glazing, there are likely dozens more willing to do the exact same thing to make an extra buck and risk getting caught.
Am I surprised? No. Will this happen again? Most definitely. We already know the Food and Drug Administration has little, if any, resources to follow up on it. And the millions of dollars that some suppliers have undoubtedly made as a result of over-glazing is too much of a temptation.
Buyers beware: The days of blindly trusting your vendor are clearly over. Start testing your inventory (if you haven't already) for accurate weights. While many buyers over the years have said they only buy from reputable vendors, clearly some business relationships aren't worth the handshake they started with.
My advice to suppliers: If you can't stand on the merits of your product without cheating customers, what do you stand for?
-- Letter to the Editor --
Shocked at brand 'denigration'
I was shocked by the article Tried and True in the February edition. In the past, SeaFood Business has appeared a reliable industry publication, which used reputable sources. In this issue, however, the magazine accepted as fact an odd statement from the marketing director of The Hills Market, a neighborhood store in Columbus, Ohio. Without any substantiation or fact-checking, SeaFood Business reported this person’s denigration of the Censea brand.
According to the article, the marketing director of The Hills Market said the store recently began to offer a “higher quality frozen, cooked cocktail shrimp by switching brands from Censea to Contessa Premium Foods.” As a result, the store was able to offer discounts on its shrimp. Although it is nice that The Hills Market is able to buy Contessa shrimp (a brand with which we have no quarrel) at a price low enough to discount, it does not logically follow that Contessa’s discountable shrimp is better than that of Censea. Moreover, a statement that one company’s shrimp is of a better quality implies an objective fact, not just an opinion such as “we believe it tastes better.” Yet, The Hills Market marketing director provided no basis whatsoever for her alleged factual statement.
The fact is Censea shrimp has long been prized throughout the United States. Our shrimp is carried at well-known specialty and gourmet stores like DiBruno Brothers in Philadelphia and Sendik’s Food Markets in Milwaukee. We supply some of the finest retail and foodservice chains in the United States, not to mention upscale resorts in St. Maarten and other parts of
Censea’s customers value the consistently high quality of our shrimp. They often tell us how much they appreciate the fact that we are one of the few companies that still sells shrimp in see-through bags that allow the customers to see the high quality of the product they are getting, rather than just a pretty picture of what the shrimp is supposed to look like.
It is in the interest of the marketing director for The Hills Market to try to put the best light on the product it is now carrying. There was no basis for SeaFood Business to take the comments from the marketing director of a small store like The Hills as fact and in the process demean the Censea brand. For some 50 years, Censea has been known as one of the quality leaders of the industry. We want your readers to be made aware of the facts about the quality of Censea shrimp.Lee Feigon, presidentCensea
SeaFood Business is committed to accurate reporting, which regularly includes fact-checks and quote checks. The article includes the opinion of a buyer; we are committed to reporting the views of buyers and sellers, both big and small.