DENVER, CO — JAN 27, 2021 – Seattle Fish Company is thrilled to announce that President & CEO, Derek Figueroa, will serve as the 2021 Chair of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI). NFI is a non-profit trade association dedicated to seafood education and advocacy including policy, safety, sustainability, and nutrition. From support of responsible wild capture fisheries and aquaculture, to establishing a marketplace supporting free trade, to ensuring the media and consumers have the facts about the benefits of fish and shellfish, NFI and its members support and promote sound public policy.
At it’s core, NFI’s mission is to serve as an advocate for seafood. Derek looks forward to delivering on that promise and leading our industry through such an interesting time. Figueroa says he plans to use his time as Chair to boost member engagement, bring diverse voices together to promote collaboration, and deliver on key impact goals driven by the organization’s strategic plan.
“Seafood has been a driving force in my life for over 30 years. I am proud of the opportunity to work with John, the talented staff at NFI, my industry colleagues, and other stakeholders to position seafood as the ‘protein of choice’ for consumers” said Figueroa.
Figueroa has been deeply entrenched in the seafood industry since he began his career at Seattle Fish Company in 1990, working his way up through a number of departments and positions before assuming the role of President in 2017, and President & CEO in October 2019. He has been recognized as a thought leader for building Seattle Fish into one of the premier seafood distributors in the US and for his leadership in sustainable practices and initiatives, including as a co-founder of industry nonprofit Sea Pact, serving on the National Leadership Council for Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) and serving on the board of the Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF).
“We are excited to have Derek help lead NFI for the next year,” says John Connelly, President of NFI. “ We have been looking forward to having him at the helm for some time – he brings a passion for seafood, for people and organization development, and for doing the right thing. Those are all essential areas where we really need his guidance in 2021 and looking beyond.
NFI prides itself on bringing lots of different perspectives together to find common ground for the common good – and who could put together more perspectives than the CEO of a company called “Seattle Fish” based in Denver?
On a personal basis, Derek’s story is one we can all see as points of hope. From starting out cleaning garbage cans on his first day at Seattle Fish to now leading the company – that inspires me to know rewards come from hard work, creativity, and commitment to getting things done right and well.”
After what has certainly been the most challenging year in recent memory, we find ourselves reflecting on the silver linings and perspective gained and are grateful for so much. Seattle Fish Company, as a provider of nutritious food, is considered an essential business and has remained open throughout the pandemic. Our customers and employees have shown resiliency, creativity, and dedication to their craft while under immense pressure and increased safety practices. We would be remiss if we didn’t take the opportunity to highlight some of our very own front-line workers making what we do possible: the Seattle Fish Company distribution team.
Seattle Fish has a team of 26 drivers (30 total employees in our fleet) who run routes everywhere in the Rocky Mountain region from Metro Denver, to Aspen, Vail, Utah and beyond. These men and women are on the road six days a week, sometimes in the toughest conditions, delivering food to our customers, who in turn feed our communities. They play a critical role in our supply chain, and that responsibility does not stop – in fact, it increases – when there is a situation like this pandemic.
A day in the life of a driver is already tough – think about the possible obstacles on long-haul routes, including weather, traffic, and accident backups. It is with grace they have handled increased safety protocols like face protection, social distancing, and conducting touchless deliveries, while at the same time remaining Seattle Fish Co.’s most customer-facing employees, in charge of delivering a positive customer experience.
Our distribution team is led by Distribution Manager, Robin Melvin. Robin joined Seattle Fish Co. earlier this year and is responsible for coordinating drivers, vehicles, routes, and loads, as well as assessing performance, identifying logistical problems, and implementing plans for improvements. Robin brings over thirteen years of distribution experience and a passion for customer service, problem-solving, and advocacy for our hard-working professional drivers.
“Throughout my career, it’s always been my goal to bring the most efficient logistics planning to my department all while keeping the drivers safe. With the Coronavirus pandemic upending every aspect of our personal and professional lives, the center of this disruption has been in the supply chain and trucking industry. This brings a new element to our daily operations, and it has become my utmost priority to make sure each and every driver that is out serving our customers and community stays safe during these difficult times. I want to personally thank all of our drivers for their bravery, hard work, and dedication to our team.”
Robin and her team have remained steadfast through challenging times and constantly changing regulations; no easy feat. We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank trucking professionals and essential workers worldwide. Without you, this year would have been impossible. You have delivered medical supplies for hospitals, groceries to keep our store shelves and restaurants stocked, perishable goods, pharmaceuticals, and more.
We are looking at you Ted, Victor, Jaffa, Kelly, Gary, Ricky, Glenn, Kelly, Sam, Gabriel, Bruce, Francisco, Cory, Roy, Thomas, Travis, Sean, Damien, Arturo, Christopher, Roxana, Cesar, Jose, Mustafa, Efrain, Antonio, Bill, Eric, Shawn, William and Brian.
You have held us together as a nation at a time when we needed it most, and for that, we are grateful.
Reykjavik, Iceland. Patagonia, Chile. Kona, Hawaii. Sanford, Colorado. These places are all over the world geographically but are just a few of the locations that Seattle Fish Company sources traceable seafood from each and every week. In one of our recent blog posts, we discussed sustainability in seafood being a murky subject. On the surface, traceability may be easier to define than sustainability, but what it can look like in practice also varies.
Traceability: What Is It And Why Does It Matter?
To level set, when we talk about traceability, what we’re referring to at the most basic level is a way to track the origin of a particular product and how it traveled through the supply chain. So what’s the problem, right? Don’t we know where all of our food is coming from before it is packed and shipped to grocery stores, or is featured on a restaurant menu? The answer to that is complicated because there is not a universally standard way to report traceability data. There is no massive database in a warehouse somewhere that houses all this information. This means traceability is completely dependent on the commitment of individual companies to capture, preserve, and share accurate data with its supply chain partners – every step of the way. When a part of that supply chain fails to report, the data becomes less trustworthy.
Aside from knowing where things come from, accurate traceability is important for several reasons
It is vital for food safety and reduces contamination, disease, and spoilage; this is particularly important for a perishable product like fresh seafood. When unsafe foods slip through the cracks, traceability allows regulators to identify and isolate the source quickly in order to mitigate the consequences and minimize risk.
It allows for transparency. When it comes to making purchasing decisions chefs, fishmongers, distributors, and consumers may want to know product origin, the method by which something was raised or caught, or if it has a particular sustainability accreditation – traceability helps to confirm all of that information.
It works to shed light on and eliminate illegal fishing sales, mislabeling, and unacceptable social conditions within the supply chain; Removing illegal and unfair practices from the industry is key to the continuation of a legal and responsible future for seafood.
What’s Being Done About It? Well…A Lot!
Challenges to making seafood fully traceable through the use of a standardized system include language and technological barriers, as well as potential cost implications, but there are several efforts underway, both on an industry level and individual level, to help move these barriers.
In September of this year, Sea Pact, an industry nonprofit cofounded by Seattle Fish Co. and five other founding members, announced a partnership with Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST). This joint work program represents an important step forward for the seafood industry towards ensuring that all seafood products bought and sold around the world are traceable to legal and responsible production practices.
The collaboration will focus on implementation of the GDST 1.0 Standards and Guidelines for Interoperable Seafood Traceability, the first-ever global standards designed to make seafood traceability systems interoperable and verifiable worldwide. Sea Pact and GDST will coordinate their efforts to improve seafood traceability, increase the availability of information needed from the seafood supply base, and harmonize data reporting.
Sea Pact members, including Seattle Fish Company, will use our collective voices to encourage industry-wide adoption of the GDST standards, and will emphasize the collection of priority “key data elements” as an early implementation step in concert with the rest of the seafood industry over the years ahead.
#2 Traceable Programs from Seattle Fish Co.
Seattle Fish Company has forged strong, lasting relationships with our supplier partners over the last century. In many cases, these relationships allow us to exchange a flow of information and gather traceability data through our purchases that we can then pass on to our customers. We always include country of origin and harvest date, and whenever possible, include details for things like catch method and boat name directly on our invoices.
We also take traceability into consideration in our Eco Score program. This program, available exclusively to Seattle Fish Co. customers, uses a scoring system to rank all of our purchases based on things like sustainability accreditations, catch method, fair working conditions, and more.
Additionally, Seattle Fish Co.’s Whole Boat program highlights a sustainable and traceable seafood item each week.
#3 Introduction of New Technology
We’ve also seen our vendor partners, such as Niceland Seafood, bring technology into the seafood traceability process. Niceland adds a QR code to all of their product packing. By scanning that QR code, you are able to see every single step in the supply chain of their products, including where it was caught and by who, where it was landed, what airport it flew out of, and when it arrived at their distributor partner (Seattle Fish Co.).
The seafood industry is hard at work improving product traceability from all angles. Seattle Fish Company looks forward to continuing to be a voice and activist of change.
Interested in furthering your traceability and sustainability efforts? Let your Seattle Fish Co. Sales Rep know you want to sign up for our Eco Score program, and are interested in our weekly Whole Boat specials. For more information on seafood traceability, we recommend visiting the Sea Pact and GDST website.
When it comes to the issue of sustainability, the waters of the seafood industry can be murky with ambiguity and confusion. There are so many different certifications, accreditations, and rating systems that have been designed to help analyze information, that it can be hard to distinguish what they all mean. There’s the Marine Stewardship Council Certification, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council Certification, Global GAP, and Seafood Watch, to name a few.
To be clear, we applaud and support all of these efforts, and share the belief that we all need to take more action when it comes to purchasing and consuming more sustainability. So for the many chefs, fishmongers, and consumers that want to take the next step and make responsible purchasing decisions, vote with their dollar, and make a positive impact on our environment – where do they start?
As your seafood partner, we view it as our job to try to answer that question and help to clear up some of the murkiness. We launched the Seattle Fish Co. Eco Score program to recognize and elevate the good being done in the industry through these sustainability initiatives, and provide clarity for you, the customer, to make easy, informed purchasing decisions which result in a direct, positive change to the health of our oceans. We’re proud to be the first seafood distributor in the industry to offer a program and tool like this to our customers.
How It Works
We Compare All The Data To Our Benchmarks
Our Eco Score takes into consideration the major, credible seafood sustainability certifications, accreditations, fishery improvement projects, and rating programs and then compares them to our own internal benchmarking standards. We use this information to score every single seafood product that we source and purchase, and label them accordingly in our system.
Then, We Analyze & Score Your Purchases
We then use that scoring data to analyze your purchases on a monthly basis and provide you with a custom email detailing each product you ordered, plus your cumulative Eco Score. Since this email is specific to your business, you’ll be able to review your results and quickly decide if your current purchasing choices are where you’d like them to be, or if you want to adjust for improvement in certain areas.
We view scores of 6 and above as “Good”, and anything above 7.75 as “Excellent”. One thing to keep in mind: there is no “perfect score” since it is impossible for any item to be 100% sustainable, but your informed and strategic buying choices can get you very close.
We Review Your Score & Make Changes Together
We encourage our customers to review these Eco Score emails on a monthly basis, and also on a trending basis over the span of a few months. You’ll be able to see a noticeable change in your score just by switching up a few items on your menu or in your seafood case. Seattle Fish Co. can also help to recommend substitutions for any items you have questions or concerns about. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to identify opportunities to improve your purchasing and have an impact on our oceans.
So What’s Next?
Seattle Fish has made a commitment to continually improve and increase our Eco Score every year, aiming to be consistently in the “Excellent” category before 2025 with all of our purchases. This is an ambitious goal – we distribute over 15 million pounds of seafood each year – but one we feel is important for the health of our oceans, and the future of our business.
Additionally, right now our Eco Score program is focused on seafood only, but Seattle Fish Company has many more products to offer. In 2021, we hope to expand into additional categories like meat or cheese and adding those to the Eco Score program as well. This will give our customers an even more well-rounded look at your purchases across the board.
How To Sign Up For The Eco Score Program
We’re thrilled you want to sign up for the Eco Score program! We need you to fill out a super simple form with your info so we can get you started. Please click the link below, and have your customer number handy if possible (this can be found on your invoices).
Our next Eco Score email will go out on December 2nd, 2020, so be sure to sign up today to get added to the program!
If you have any questions about the Eco Score program, please reach out to our Sustainability Manager & Buyer: Mac Paranto (email@example.com) or directly with your Seattle Fish Co. Sales Rep.
Seattle Fish Co. is excited to announce we are now carrrying a delicious new cured meats and charcuterie line: River Bear American Meats. Not only does River Bear offer an exciting portfolio of products, but it is also a Denver-based company owned by our friend Chef Justin Brunson (Old Major).
If you had the opportunity dine at Old Major, you know that Chef Brunson was always big on high-quality, locally sourced meat — it was even hanging in a window near the kitchen for customers to get a sneak peek of what might end up on their plate.
Brunson used that same approach to start his new venture. River Bear uses old-world techniques to make new world fresh and cured meats, many of which are sourced from family farms right here in Colorado. All River Bear pork products are:
-made with no junk and no fillers
“It took me forty years, but I’ve found my life’s calling. This is what I love doing,” he states. “It’s more than just a meat company; it’s almost more of a lifestyle brand” Brunson told Westword Magazine.
We’re here for it, Chef.
*Seattle Fish Company is proud to carry River Bear American Meats full charcuterie line & bacon. Ask your Seattle Fish Company Sales Rep for more information and to place an order today!
River Bear American Meats Charcuterie
We have two heritage breed lines of fresh and cured antibiotic-free (ABF) pork products including premium 100% Berkshire pork. Our fresh and cured beef products consist of our premium Wagyu line and Black Angus. All our meats are smoked over real hardwood grown in our home state – Colorado.
Charcuterie line includes: Spanish Chorizo, Spanish Lomo, Pancetta, Guanciale and more.
River Bear American Meats Bacon
Dry-rubbed and cured with our proprietary blend of herbs and spices, then smoked with pecan and peach wood.