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Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
So the other day I had a chance to spend some time at the Fulton Fish Market, down in the Bronx … and when I saw "the other day," I really mean "the other night," because I was there from about 11:45 pm until 2:30 am. Not really my most productive time of day, but I was glad I went because I saw something that was really impressive.
The Fulton Fish Market dates back to 1831 … it originally was in Manhattan, but moved to the Hunts Point location in the Bronx in 2005. The building itself is about a quarter-mile long, and in some ways it hasn't changed all that much over the years. There are dozens of seafood companies, most of them small and independent, doing business there, bringing in an enormous variety of fish that they then sell to local stores and restaurants … you can see then cutting and trimming and filleting and then marketing their wares to reps who come in to see what looks good.
It really is extraordinary … I walked away from it thinking to myself that it was a tough way to make a living, and when I got home I tossed my clothes in the wash, my sneakers in the trash, and took a long, hot shower.
But the reason I was down there was because the Fulton Fish Market has entered the 21st century with FultonFishMarket.com, which is designed to serve consumers directly, as well as restaurants and retailers.
In charge of FultonFishMarket.com is Mike Spindler, a well-known guy in the food industry when it comes to technology and e-commerce. I've known Mike since the early days at MyWebGrocer, where he was one of the pioneers, and I was interested in seeing what he is up to in the early morning hours at the Fulton Fish Market.
Essentially what they are doing is re-engineering the seafood supply chain, bringing what you might call a little Amazon-like magic to a centuries old business. The goal, quite simply, is to cut down on the time between the sea and the plate so that businesses are selling and consumers are eating the freshest seafood possible.
Their conceit is that the traditional way of getting fish from sea to plate involves going from the boat to a market to a refrigerated processing warehouse to a consolidated warehouse to a store or restaurant and then, finally to the consumer. At FultonFishMarket.com, they've developed a supply chain that goes from the sea to their market and onto an airplane and then to the store, restaurant or consumer - cutting out a couple of steps by use of a technology that never freezes the fish.
It is yet another case where friction created through years of tradition creates an opportunity for a disruptive influence to make a difference.
In some cases, this all means sourcing product directly from the Fulton Fish Market - those dozens of fishmongers are a great source of the freshest product possible. Plus, Mike and his team are sourcing products from other places that might not have been available to many of us - I tasted this amazing smoked salmon from a London smokehouse called H. Forman & Son, which has been smoking salmon since 1905. It was extraordinary, but I might never have tasted it if FultonFishMarket.com were not bringing it in.
I have to be honest. I'm fascinated - not just as a consumer (and I plan to be a regular customer of
FultonFishMarket.com, which inevitably will reduce the amount of seafood I buy at local supermarkets, but also because I think that this presents retailers with an opportunity to take advantage of a streamlined supply chain and a proven history - Fulton Fish Market has an amazing narrative - to grow seafood sales.
It is, I think, a great category in which businesses can differentiate themselves. And maybe attract new customers … reeling them in, you'll excuse the expression, hook, line and sinker.
That's what is on my mind this morning, and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: