- New York’s famous Fulton Fish Market, the largest fish market in the Western Hemisphere, recently announced it will sell seafood direct to consumers nationwide via its website, according to Retail Leader.
- The fish market is banking on demand for seafood caught off American coasts, noting that the U.S. fishing industry is sustainable and well-regulated, but that 70% of product gets shipped overseas.
- Fulton Fish Market claims it will offer the largest assortment of seafood available online.
In the “About Us” section of its website, Fulton Fish Market contrasts its “charming family fishers and fishmongers” with “some not so charming pirates, fish tales and fish oil sales people that take advantage whenever they can.”
This salty language seems to refer to all the middle men involved in the seafood distribution chain, including retailers.
Indeed, Fulton, like many other suppliers, professes no love for supermarkets. Manufacturers often claim retailers overcharge them, mishandle their products, insufficiently merchandise them in stores, and put more emphasis on store brands. Fulton goes even further, saying that supermarkets typically supply imported seafood that is of inferior quality, not sustainable, and fished illegally or at best under lax regulations.
Leaving aside the many objections retailers would have to these claims, it’s interesting to note how Fulton’s claim centers on quality and not just price. Retailers, it seems to be saying, don’t stock the best products because their bottom line won’t allow them to. Ordering directly from the supplier, in contrast, is a way to ensure quality and a price that comes closer to actual cost.
The problem for Fulton, as with others, is awareness. How many people will know or bother to visit the market’s website to buy seafood? Fulton Fish Market devotees will seek out the site, but what about the casual seafood consumer? One of the biggest benefits retailers offer suppliers is exposure. Consumers don’t have to hunt down individual suppliers on their own because stores have already done that work for them.
At the same time, advancing e-commerce solutions are offering that same exposure, but without all the middle men taking a cut. In the ongoing battle against providers like Amazon, Boxed, Jet.com and others, retailers need to consider the benefits they’re offering to their manufacturers, not just their consumers.