The Massachusetts Export Center showcased New Bedford to a group of international seafood buyers from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America on March 9, as a way of marketing the region’s seafood products and facilities.
They visited BASE/ New England Seafood Auction, Northern Wind, Bergies Seafood and Ocean’s Fleet. They also toured a fishing vessel at the waterfront, and attended a seafood industry luncheon with New Bedford city officials and leaders from the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.
The buyers were in Boston for the 2018 Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, the largest seafood trade event in North America.
Countries represented on the tour include China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
The annual tour is sponsored by Food Export – Northeast, a non-profit export promotion group, which partnered Massachusetts Export Center to introduce buyers to local seafood suppliers in New Bedford. Other participants include Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, New Bedford Chamber of Commerce and New Bedford Harbor Development Commission.
Colleen Coyne, Seafood Program Coordinator for Food Export-Northeast, said that “Buyers are vetted and selected based on their serious interest in northeast seafood and for their purchasing power. Since 2004, this annual activity has helped launch new markets for northeast seafood around the world – from scallop exports to France, to lobster sales in China. ”
Last year’s Seafood Buyers Mission generated sales of $31,803,000. Additional projected sales totaled $22,465,000. 24 seafood suppliers participated, and 127 new distributorships were established. Seafood companies reported developing 107 new buyer relationships and making 31 first-time sales to a new market.
Nancy Lowd of the Massachusetts Export Center said, “The international buyers really enjoy visiting New Bedford and seeing the source of the products they are here to buy, making connections and buying product directly from the source. Seafood is one of the most important exports from Massachusetts.”
According to US Census data, Massachusetts exported $426 million in seafood in 2017.
South Coast Chamber CEO Rick Kidder said, “The fishing industry in New Bedford is…one of the world’s finest, and when coupled with the strong UMass- Dartmouth maritime research from the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), New Bedford’s fleets and processing are among the most efficient and productive. A recent agreement for New Bedford to join the Ocean Cluster means that new technologies and businesses from fish products can flourish in the fishing capital of the nation.”
The 2018 tour is the 14th annual visit of international seafood buyers to the New Bedford area organized by the Massachusetts Export Center, part of the state’s Small Business Development Center Network. The Center provides a broad range of services to Massachusetts exporters and operates a New Bedford office at the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.
Along with Food Export USA and Massachusetts Export Center, other participants in this year’s seafood tour include the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission and the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce. The luncheon reception is sponsored by Eastern Bank and Eastern Fisheries. It includes a presentation by Dr. Kevin Stokesbury, Chair of Fisheries Oceanography at the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.