Bi-Lo, Price Chopper Debut Seafood Initiatives

As a way to offer its customers a competitive in-store advantage on premium fish and shellfish products, Bi-Lo, LLC has formed a partnership with North Coast Seafood, a third-generation primary processor of North Atlantic seafood to become the only Southeast retailer to offer this variety of fresh product to shoppers, while Price Chopper Supermarkets, a Golub Corp. company, has joined forces with Local Ocean, becoming the first supermarket retailer in the United States to provide customers with the provider’s sustainable, “locally grown” sea bream.

The new Chef’s Catch line at Mauldin, S.C.-based Bi-Lo is a diverse, high-quality fresh seafood assortment, including salmon fillets and steaks, tilapia, rainbow trout, steelhead trout, wild ocean perch, cod, haddock, sea scallops, flounder and bay scallops. All of the items come ready to be prepared.

“Bi-Lo strives every day to provide customers with the freshest and highest-quality seafood products available,” said Stacey Couch, director of meat and seafood for the grocer, which operates 207 supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, employing about 15,100 people. “The addition of Chef’s Catch and Bi-Lo’s partnership with North Coast Seafood is just another example of our commitment to offer our customers healthy meal solutions and savings without sacrifice.”

“North Coast Seafood has long been committed to line-caught, sustainably harvested seafood from local fishermen in the United States, Canada, Norway and Iceland for more than 30 years,” noted Rich Polins, VP of sales at North Coast Seafood, which is based in Boston and New Bedford, Mass. “In addition, since 1980, North Coast Seafood has participated in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s voluntary seafood inspection program -- which less than 1 percent of U.S. seafood processors do continuously -- ensuring all seafood is processed under continuous inspection.”

The provider offers distinctive labels and color-coded packaging that differentiates freshly caught seafood from previously frozen varieties. Its three color categories are blue for fresh seafood; purple for previously frozen at sea; and orange for ready-to-cook items, among them marinated, coated and encrusted seafood products.

Price Chopper’s new sea bream supplier, Hudson, N.Y.-based Local Ocean, which produces sustainable ocean-based varieties of salt water fish through an innovative contained farming process that includes a closed loop water system, is now delivering fresh product to six New York Price Chopper stores: Hudson, Shoppers World in Clifton Park, Loudon Plaza in Latham, Bethlehem, Niskayuna, and Saratoga Springs (Route 50). The item is being offered at $9.99 per pound.

“The sea bream will be delivered fresh from Local Ocean’s facility to our stores in less than 24 hours, which further clarifies Price Chopper’s deep commitment both to sustainability and to providing the “Best in Fresh” and locally grown products to our customers,” said Lee French, VP of seafood merchandising at Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper, a 128-store chain operating in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont, as well as New York.

“It makes good sense for us to launch this program with a forward-thinking and committed company such as Price Chopper,” added Local Ocean VP of corporate development Jonathan Eisenberg. “We believe that having Price Chopper as our first supermarket partner will enable us to expand the variety of our product offerings within the Northeast.”

Known for its delicate, mild white flesh and is very popular in Italy, France, Israel and other Mediterranean countries, sea bream is usually grilled or baked whole. “This particular fish receives a NuVal score of 82 and offers Price Chopper customers a healthy and delicious center-of-the-plate protein that can play a key role in a healthy lifestyle,” noted Price Chopper senior corporate nutritionist Ellie Wilson.

The partnership between the two companies promises to be a real win-win, both in terms of sustainability and food safety. “Local Ocean and its partnership with Price Chopper will provide a local, fresh, sustainably focused, year-round supply of fresh fish, with the added bonus of reduced transportation costs,” explained Noah Sheetz, executive chef of New York State at the Governor's Mansion. “Local Ocean’s closed system of circulation has several advantages with respect to food safety. A closed and regulated aquaculture system means a product that is as close to organic as possible, even though there are currently no USDA organic certification standards for fish.”

According to Price Chopper, the long-term plan is to expand the offering to other locations and add more species of fish from Local Ocean. “As we explore ways in which to continually provide our customers with fresh, healthy and sustainable seafood, we celebrate the revolutionary assurances made possible by our partners at Local Ocean and look forward to working with them to expand the variety and distribution of their fish in our stores,” said French.

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