Philly Seafood’s Texas Gulf Shrimp

Philly Seafood LogoWith a desire to do something more with his shrimp, Kenneth Garcia recruited his sister Regina Garcia Pena in 2002 to sell it. Shortly after, his brother Anthony and father Edward, Sr. came on board to create Philly Seafood. The men wanted to have more control over their shrimp production, but it was Regina who was determined to change the way the company did business. She shifted the organization from just selling shrimp to developing a brand that represented the family’s values of hard work and dedication.

Philly Seafood is a family business with a family name. Regina’s son, Daniel Phillip Pena III, lost his life in a tragic accident when he was four years old. Regina takes great care with the company’s image and reputation because her son’s memory is intertwined with the organization. The company’s success and growth is based on the fundamental principles of integrity, quality and service. It manages the harvest, production, packaging, marketing and selling of the shrimp from family owned boats. Philly Seafood is now a recognized brand in the retail and food service seafood landscape across the United States.

The Garcia family started with 1 shrimp boat in 1952 and now owns the largest shrimp fleet in the United States. The bulk of Philly’s boats production is Texas Brown Shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) caught in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The boats also fish the shallower waters of the Gulf for Gulf White Shrimp (Litopenaeus Setiferus). All Philly vessels produce the highest quality shrimp as the family knows and is invested in all the captains and crew. This relationship is unique in the shrimping industry. Most shrimp companies buy the majority of their product from independent boats and or traders. Subsequently having much less control over raw material. The Philly Shrimp family oversees every step of the process from fishing vessel to production and sales and everything in between. Philly has just opened a state of the art production facility in Texas. Aligned with Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and Gulf Seafood Trace Philly Seafood is the clear leader in the Gulf Shrimp industry. Catanese Classic Seafood as a family business appreciates the Garcia family’s journey in the industry and are proud to partner with their great company.

Skrei Cod, Norway

The excitement in Norway this time of year is similar to the buzz in Alaska in May. In May, Alaska’s fishing world is awaiting the arrival of wild salmon season. In January, Norway is anticipating the return of Skrei Cod. This is a unique happening in the Cod world. Skrei Cod, pronounced Skray, an old Norse word that loosely translates to wanderer; is a branded, tagged Arctic Atlantic Cod that migrates from its home in the Barents Sea to its spawning ground off the coast of Norway. This migration starts in late January and ends in early April. The journey these Cod take is over 1800 miles. Not every Cod caught in this fishery is branded Skrei. To quality for Skrei quality standards the Cod must be a fully grown adult caught in the traditional Northern Norway spawning grounds. The fish must be processed and packed within 12 hours of being caught. The skin is required to be immaculate, no scratches, bruises or other flaws. We are awaiting the arrival of the first landings of this great Cod sometime near the last couple days of January. We will see fish arrive in the 8 to 12 pound range with a few fish near 15 pounds. This will produce a nice 3 pound average fillet. The fishery is certified sustainable by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The health of this fishery is very strong as is evidenced by research vessels showing a 90% return of all eligible fish returning to the spawning grounds yearly. Enjoy the sweet flavor of this cold water delicacy while it is available.

2016 Grouper Closure
One of the adventures we will be facing in the current year is a two month black grouper conservation period in Mexico for the months of February and March. This two month moratorium has been rumored for a while, but we did not want to announce it until we were certain of the details. Two months without black grouper will almost certainly leave an unprecedented shortage especially in the fresh fish markets. We would like to mention that while we are very supportive of the extension of the conservation period to two months, we see that as just one of a number of important steps that need to be taken.

Remember, last years’ closure was rumored to be 2 months but was left at the traditional 1 month closure. The catch has dropped every year from record lows in 2013 & 2014. The 2015 catch was slightly improved from the record low of 11 million pounds in 2014 but not much improved. This closure, although difficult, is needed to help improve black grouper stocks in the Gulf of Mexico for the long term sustainability of the fishery.

A 2-month closure from February 15 through April 15 is actually about a week or so later than those dates. We will have fish for around a week or so after the closure and will not have fish until at least a week after the fishing resumes. We will have options for black grouper customers during the closure. Those options include Gulf Wild tagged red grouper, Pacific grouper and we will have frozen black grouper fillets to create a previously frozen grouper fillet.

Market Update
The Salmon market is in flux at this time. Not that it’s unusual at this time of year. The Chilean Salmon supply is feeling pressure from Lenten demand. Many ads have been booked by large retailers and demand is higher than anticipated supply over the next 2 months. Expect Chilean salmon prices to increase in February and then possibly again in March. The market should stabilize after Lent in April. The increases could be as much as $1 per pound. Expect a minimum of .50 per pound increase.

European Salmon, meaning Faroe, Norwegian and Scottish Salmon, increased prices before the holiday season in December. The European Salmon has increased in January as well. I know this is old news but the point is the European Salmon market has already increased price levels for Lent. The market should stabilize as Lent approaches. If there is an increase it should be slight. We expect a stable market from Europe but depending on the depth of the Chilean increase we could see that slight increase from Europe.

Lake Fish
The ice is forming and breaking up as our weather changes from deep freeze to mild. Those conditions keep fishermen off the water. We do not expect any Lake Erie caught fish for the short term. A longer break in the weather would get the boats back on the water but it’s not expected. We will be getting inconsistent supplies of ice fished Lake Winnipeg Walleye over the next month, as well as of yellow perch coming from Lakes in upstate New York and Maryland. Lake Whitefish should be available from Lake Huron but weather could interrupt supply periodically. We do not expect to see fresh White Bass anytime soon as well. We will have a great supply of high quality previously frozen lake fish to carry you through the gaps in fresh supply.

Wild caught fish in general is more difficult this time of year. Most ports during winter see less fish landed. Even in the Gulf of Mexico the winds and seas are higher and less good days of fishing exist. This combined with conservation closures and annual fish migrations make wild caught fish shorter in supply than it will as spring approaches. We suggest utilizing farm raised fish during this time. Also, mahi mahi is one of the best choices during winter as the fishing season in Ecuador is in full gear until April. There should be fairly good supply of Hawaiian landed fish this time of year. Weather permitting supply of North Atlantic groundfish should be in good supply and very popular as Lent arrives. Mid-Atlantic species such as Fluke and Wild Striped Bass should start to show, again weather permitting.