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Fishpeople Seafood and Open Blue captured top honors among 12 finalists vying for the year's best new products in the 2017 Seafood Excellence Awards competition at the ongoing Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America in Boston. Fishpeople Seafood's Meyer Lemon & Herb Panko Wild Alaska Salmon Kit was honored in the retail product category, while Open Blue's Frozen Open Blue Cobia Fillet earned the nod in the foodservice sector.
The winners were chosen from a dozen finalists, which were winnowed down from 49 total entries, during a live judging by a panel of seafood buyers and industry experts from the retail and foodservice industries. This year’s judges were James Leduc, purchasing manager at US Foods/All American Foods; Jason Resner, VP meat and seafood merchandising at Price Chopper/Market 32; and Marc Warsetsky, director of product innovation at Captain D’s. The products were judged on their uniqueness and appropriateness to the market, taste profile, market potential, convenience, nutritional value and originality.
Ken Plasse, CEO of Portland, Ore.-based Fishpeople, explained to Progressive Grocer prior to the awards ceremony, that the company’s four-SKU frozen meal kit line – which is currently carried by Whole Foods, H-E-B and Nugget Markets, among other food retailers – was the result of “a year’s labor of love,” with the goal of making seafood preparation less intimidating by having all of the needed ingredients packaged together and including an easy-to-follow recipe card to create a restaurant-quality meal. According to Plasse, Fishpeople’s traceable, sustainable seafood is “treated with care throughout,” details of which the company is pleased to share with consumers.
Co-located with Seafood Processing North America, Seafood Expo North America is North America’s largest seafood trade event, drawing more than 21,600 seafood professionals from 100-plus countries and more than 1,340 exhibiting companies. The event is produced by Portland, Maine-based Diversified Communications.