Tuesday, March 22, 2011

International Boston Seafood Show 2011: A Unique Perspective

One of the things that I truly love about food, is how there is always something more to learn.  There is always a trick, an ingredient, a species or a process just waiting to be discovered.  There are new theories, new practices, and refined ways of doing an old practice being uncovered every day, I believe that there is no better way to discover all of these new things then at a trade show.  This past weekend, thanks to the very kind folks at iPura, I had my second opportunity to attend the International Boston Seafood Show (IBSS), which to me, is the trade show to end all trade shows.

Now, to be fair, I can't say that I have attended many trade shows, the IBSS may be the only, but it is an incredible make up of companies that together seem to represent a full cross section of the seafood industry. The IBSS is held in the Boston Convention Center, an enormous facility opened a few years back in the up and coming Fort Point Channel area of Boston.  The sheer magnitude of this space is your first clue that once you enter the doors you will be in the middle of an incredible event. Beyond the noise of the earnest chatter happening between the thousands of people attending, the first greeting you receive from the huge room is the scent.  Wafts of fried seafood, mingle among the herbs and other seasonings being used to cook the dozens of seafood entree tastes served throughout the show.  The odor is welcoming, alerting the entrant to the fact that their hunger pangs will soon be satiated by countless options.  Every booth seems to have some tasty treat to tempt the passers by, but chowing down isn't the real reason you're here is it?  

Though the scents draw you into each booth, it is the people that keep you there.  Companies from all over the world send their representatives to expand their markets and voice.  The diversity is vast, ranging from cooling systems, vacuum packaging equipment, and ice makers to the fisheries, and activist groups.  I had the opportunity to speak with the Oregon Salmon and Albacore Commissions, who are currently facing the dilemma of wanting to expand, but are cautious due to supply.  This seemed to be the plight of several of the smaller fisheries.  I spent time talking to the Scottish Development International who are trying to break further into the US market with their wholly Scottish salmon.  They find that often their products are outsold by "Scottish Like" salmon, rather than that which is made purely in Scotland.  I watched countless demonstrations for new vacuum sealers (I can't say those caught my attention enough to chat with the representatives) and automatic zip tiers, as well as ice makers.  Finally, of course, I visited the great folks at iPura, one of my favorite life science companies, dedicated to ensuring the safety and cleanliness of seafood to the end user. The work that they do is incredible, please find my thoughts on their outreach in my post from last years IBSS.

The scene at IBSS
As a blogger, I had a unique perspective into every booth.  I wasn't there to make deals, to haggle for the best price, to scope out competition.  I was there to learn, to hear the struggles these companies face, and, best of all to taste.  The IBSS presents a unique opportunity each year to look at the issues facing the seafood world.  This year the community has been rocked, suffering oil spill dangers, and more recently the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, beyond devastating the country, also greatly disturbed much of the seafood from that region.  The stories were real, some were sad, some inspirational, and some hopeful.  No matter your place in the food world, I urge you to attend this type of show if possible.  The view into the personal, and professional struggles is worth the entrance fee, and then some.     

3 comments:

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

I really wanted to go to this - but I just couldn't fit it in. Looks like a wonderful time, and it's great that you were able to hear about human experiences relating to the seafood industry. Sounds really inspiring!

Daisy said...

great post! really nice description of the event. glad you enjoyed yourself.

Julie said...

I didn't know about this trade show. Thanks for sharing! I'll try to hit it up next year.

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