To start, we examine the situation at the West Coast Ports now that they are back to work. Is the Lenten Season impacting your customer's seafood sales? Read what the industry has to say about it. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has created a new Consumer-Facing Chain of Custody Standard you may find interesting. Our product spotlight looks at the availability Crane Bay® Soft Shell Crab at all of our warehouses. And the article on "Bonsai" examines a traditional Japanese "Art Form" that has been reproducing Nature for more than 800 Years. Lastly, if you are interested in pairing Japanese food with wine, not traditional sake, do read this month's blog.
West Coast Ports Face Several Months' Backlog
West Coast ports are finally working at full speed again - for the most part - but it will likely take months for the backlog to clear, port officials and logistics experts said.
Full operations resumed at West Coast ports Saturday evening February 21st, after the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers, came to a tentative agreement on a new five-year labor contract late Friday. The contract still must be ratified by members.
On Sunday morning, the number of ships at anchor waiting to get into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had increased to 31 from 27 Friday. Another couple dozen ships were either nearby or on their way to the ports. "Just based on the mathematics, it will be about three months before we return to a sense of normalcy," said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.
In 2002, a 10-day lockout involving the same groups cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion a day, and it took two to three months to return to normal. This time, while the labor dispute never resulted in total port shutdown like a lockout, the slowdowns were spread out over a longer period. They began roughly in November as the union stopped sending enough workers and increased in January and February as employers cut evening and weekend shifts.
Port and logistics experts estimated it could take anywhere from about two to six months to get the U.S. supply chain - which makes sure T-shirts end up on shelves and auto parts are available for manufacturing - back on track.
While details of the tentative contract weren't released, it included a new arbitration system, as well as new pay, health-care and pension agreements. While the ILWU and PMA had reached earlier understandings on both health care and the maintenance of chassis, which are used to haul containers, negotiations in recent weeks had come to a standstill due to a disagreement regarding the system of arbitration used to settle disputes between the union and employers.
Even after things return to normal, it is unclear how much structural problems at the ports - which were already causing congestion - will continue to contribute.
- Taken From www.Seafoodnews.com
Crane Bay® Soft Shell Crab
DNI Group Operations Manager, Min Cho, has just returned from a visit with our soft shell crab production partners in South East Asia. The report is good - SOFT SHELL CRAB IS BACK! According to our quality control team, there is plenty of raw material to harvest and put into the ponds to grow. The weather conditions have been stable. The price of the crab is steady which enables the farmers to continue farming profitable. And lastly, production in Myanmar has now stabilized and is running at a highly efficient capacity. All these factors result in a consistent, reliable supply chain for Crane Bay® Soft Shell Crab in all sizes for the next several months ahead.
Due to the current surplus of crab in the market, you should be hearing from many sellers, both new and old, about this product. We remind you that DNI Group has been distributing Crane Bay® brand Soft Shell Crab for over ten years. We have maintained the availability and quality of our product through the ups and downs of supply and demand throughout that time. Remember, soft shell crab is one of the only seafoods that is prepared for consumers with all the guts included. A trustworthy supplier that has excellent quality control from beginning to end is absolutely necessary to ensure a wholesome, safe product for your customer.
So if you are purchasing soft shell crab for your customers, choose Crane Bay® - the consistent, wholesome, quality product with reliable inventory all year long. And right now, check out our LOWER PRICING... contact your DNI Representative today.
* All the crabs are processed from 100% LIVE crab to
ensure high quality and fresh taste
* The crabs are professionally trimmed and cleaned BY
HAND for excellent appearance - always fully dressed
* MINIMUM broken or missing legs and claws
* Strict weight control is enforced so that you get what you are paying for
* Metal tested and fully sanitized in ozone
baths for food safety.
* Individually hand wrapped for quick and
easy usage by chefs.
* Stable inventory year round for consistent
* Smaller boxes for easy and convenient storage
by your customers.
INDUSTRY NEWS: How Restaurants Are Optimizing Seafood Sales During the Lenten Season
Colorful beads, beer cans, margarita cups and random trash are the only reminders of Mardi Gras, or "Carnival," the celebration that takes place in New Orleans before Lent, which is, according to Wikipedia, "...the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday." Many believers, especially Catholics, take this time to give up something during that 40-day period; something that would be a sacrifice, as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice when dying on the cross on Good Friday. But the biggest tradition among believers is not eating meat on Ash Wednesday or on Fridays, instead choosing to eat a close alternative-fish or seafood.
When the custom started to abstain from meat back during the early years of Christianity in Europe, it was never a rule that you could NOT eat fish, just that you could not eat meat. So since people tend to bend the rules as much as possible without technically breaking them, it was decided that eating fish on Fridays would be the exception. Hence, the explosion of churches (especially located in the Midwest, due to the high population of German Catholics) conducting weekly Friday night Fish Frys, where attendees began coming in droves to indulge on fried fish and other meatless options, enjoying the company and conversation of other believers.
The Impact of Lent on Restaurants
and How They Have Responded
Restaurants across the nation recognized this sales opportunity for the millions of Christians observing the practice and finally began incorporating different seafood options into their menus. Fast-food restaurants have jumped on the bandwagon, too. McDonald's has the Filet-o- Fish on the menu year-round, while others, such as Wendy's, KFC, and Jack-in-the-Box introduced seafood options available only during the Lent season. Even Panda Express, normally known for its Asian influence, debuted a new item called Peppercorn Shrimp, using yellow onions, red peppers, and stir-frying the dish in a sauce with Thai peppercorns.
Most restaurants, both nationwide and local eateries, have either highlighted or introduced seafood or meatless options to cater to those customers celebrating the season, but there are still those places that refuse to cash in on the sales opportunity.
Laura McGuire, of Chicago-based food industry consultancy, Technomic, says it's imperative for restaurants to acknowledge their customer's dietary restrictions during Lent. "Alienating those who observe Lent on your menu could result in slower sales during this period," she says, "as well as ultimately create customer dissatisfaction in the long term."
Adding seafood, meatless or vegetarian options on a seasonal basis can attract new customers as well, according to McGuire. Plus, if the new item doesn't test well with new and/or existing customers, it can be deleted from the menu for good. If your restaurant is hesitant to join the seafood/meatless craze during Lent season, just look at it as a test run. There's always time to go - back to the drawing board!
-Taken from blog.centralrestaurant.com
RECIPE IDEA: Crane Bay® Ikejime Sushi Ebi, Atlantic Salmon and Yellowfin Tuna Perfect for Lent
As the above article reminds us, the Christian Lenten season is one of the busiest seafood consumption periods of the year. Satisfy your customer's commitment to seafood during this time with quality Crane Bay® products. Create a dazzling and delicious sushi platter made with Crane Bay® Sashimi Grade Atlantic Salmon, Crane Bay® Sashimi Grade Yellowfin Tuna and of course Crane Bay® Ikejime Sushi Ebi. We have inventory in all three warehouses ready to ship throughout the Lenten season. For pricing, samples or further information, please contact your DNI Group representative.
JAPANESE CULTURE: Bonsai
Japanese "Art Form" that has been reproducing Nature for more than 800 Years.
Did you know Japan is 70% forest? Japanese people have lived surrounded by woodland and their very existence is intertwined with that of the trees. The people of Japan have incorporated trees into their lives using Bonsai; a hobby that can even be called an "Art", where magnificent natural landscapes are created in small plant pots. It is said that ornamental plants and trees were first planted in containers around 800 years ago, and they still remain popular today.
Bonsai are not just a matter of planting some shrubs in a pot; instead they reproduce a natural scene in a pot. This means that trees that grow several meters high in nature, must be cultivated to match the size of the pot, and may range in height from a few dozen centimeters to around 1 meter. However, trees are living things and so even though you may think you are training them into your desired shape, they can shoot buds or grow branches in unexpected places. As a result, you need to observe a tree's form and almost "talk" to it; nurturing it over several years by pruning it and factoring in various needs such as sunlight, water and fertilizer etc. By so doing, the tree will finally take on the form you had envisaged. That is the real charm of Bonsai.
The Japanese Sense of Beauty
There are various different species of Bonsai. Among others, we use evergreen such as pine or traditional oak; species such as maple and Japanese elm whose leaves change with the four seasons; and plum or satsuki azalea whose flowers can be enjoyed. However, for many Japanese people "Bonsai" is likely to bring the pine tree to mind.
In addition, there are various styles in which trees can be potted and cultivated. The most basic style is that where the trunk grows straight up, getting gradually thinner from the root to the tips; a style called Chokkan (literally "straight trunk"). Then there is Shakan (literally "tilted trunk"), where the trunk is tilted to left or the right, as when a wind-swept tree grows at an angle in nature. Stretching the trunk by twisting it and bending it backwards and forwards, left and right, is called Moyogi (literally "patterned tree").
Yet this does not mean that there is a set definition or determination for how Bonsai "should be cultivated." In nature no two trees are the same; branches bend and trunks tilt as they are exposed to the wind and the rain, and roots also sprout up. Essentially, the enjoyment of recreating such elements and reproducing nature translates into the Japanese sense of beauty called Wabi Sabi (the sense of beauty found in quiet, subdued refinement.)
Trees that are around 10-20 centimeters in height come under the category of "small Bonsai" and in recent years have also become known as "mini-Bonsai." As with regular Bonsai, there are various kinds of mini-Bonsai in terms of fruit and foliage; those with leaves that change color in the autumn; or those that produce fresh green leaves etc. Many people place them on tables, or on window sills, to enjoy them.
The "Moss Ball" is a technique that creates Bonsai by wrapping the plant's roots in a ball of clay-rich soil and moss, bound together with thin thread. As well as being used for typical Japanese Bonsai with foliage that turns into autumnal hues, moss balls can also be enjoyed with various other types of ornamental plants.
- Taken from Trends in Japan
SEAFOOD SUSTAINABILITY UPDATE:
MSC Creates Consumer-Facing Chain of Custody Standard for Foodservice, Customer Oriented Businesses
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has split up its Chain of Custody Standard in order to better serve the foodservice and other similar customer oriented businesses. In its revisions, the MSC will offer its clients a choice of three Chain of Custody Standards:
Default: For single or multi-site organizations trading certified seafood
Group: For organizations with a central office function and many locations trading certified seafood such as co-operatives or franchises
Consumer-facing: For retailers, restaurants, caterers and fish mongers or fresh fish counters of any size selling or serving certified seafood directly to final consumers
According to the Council, the change is a response to improve the consumer-facing companies such as restaurants, fishmongers and caterers. The consumer-facing standard was developed with extensive stakeholder input and piloted with six previously uncertified companies. Their feedback suggests that the new version of the standard is significantly more accessible and fit-for-purpose than the previous MSC Chain of Custody requirements.
"The MSC Chain of Custody Standard ensures that consumers can have absolute confidence in claims about the sustainability and sourcing of the seafood they are buying. This is absolutely essential to engaging consumers in protecting our oceans for the future," said David Agnew, Standards Director at the MSC.
- Taken from SeafoodNews.com
February Report - Data from December