MONTVALE, N.J. — Through a partnership with World Wide Seafood, a buyer and distributor operating from New York City's venerable Fulton Fish Market, A&P has launched “Seafood Joe's Market Fresh Fish,” a program that will offer shoppers fresh fish caught and delivered for sale within 24 hours, as well as a selection of exotic delicacies from around the globe, according to company representatives.
“We have contacts with fishermen with day boats who fish the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico,” Joe D'Alessandro, senior director of seafood merchandising for A&P, explained during a launch event at Grissini's restaurant in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. “Because their product is so fresh, they will get top dollar. We understand the importance of [freshness], and so do our customers, and that's why we're going after the day boats.”
D'Alessandro added that the relationship with World Wide will give A&P contacts with an extensive network of independent Atlantic fishermen from Maine to Florida, as well as access to exotic seafood from around the world.
“Items to look for include fresh tuna, fresh swordfish, fresh tilefish, a vast variety of whole fish, preservative-free sea scallops, fresh flounder fillets, fresh shrimp when in season, fresh live soft-shell crab, live hard-shell crab, fresh mahi-mahi and more.”
Exotic options will include delicacies such as Dover sole from Holland, Australian barramundi and Norwegian langoustine.
Also, World Wide will regularly offer A&P opportunity buys, which will allow the company to purchase enough quantity to offer specialty items on sale for a single day. To highlight these unique items, the company's seafood departments will be outfitted with special displays and chalkboard signage reading “Fresh off the boat.”
“Customers will be able to recognize that something different and unique is happening,” D'Alessandro said.
Speed to source, and the resulting freshness of the product for shoppers, is a major selling point of the program, D'Alessandro said.
“When the day boat is landing, our partner World Wide will be there to pick it up and get it to the market within hours. At the market, the product will be put into the store orders and delivered by noon [the same day].”
From Fulton Fish Market, D'Alessandro said, the company will be able to distribute product to C&S' fresh warehouses, including Woodbridge, N.J.; Hatfield, Mass.; and northeastern Maryland. Stores farther south will be serviced by product deliveries from the Philadelphia Fish Market and the Maryland Wholesale Seafood Market in Jessup, Md. Sourcing product from these regional terminal markets also has the advantage of lowering transportation and delivery costs, D'Alessandro said.
“When you lower the cost, and you have great product, you create an equation of great value for the customer, and that's what we're trying to do.”
The program will also offer shoppers a new level of service and customization. As part of the launch, A&P has said it will begin a new training program to educate department associates on the seasonality of a wide variety of fish; the proper ways to clean fish, shellfish and other seafood; and several cooking and preparation techniques that can be used for fresh seafood.
Department staff will offer to clean and prepare whole fish and shellfish while customers shop the rest of the store, or return for order pickups later in the day. And, if a shopper wants a fish that their store doesn't have in stock, department managers will have a telephone number they can call for special deliveries.
“Any customer can come in and order almost any fish, and we can have it in the store within 24 hours,” D'Alessandro said.
Initially, the program will target A&P, Waldbaum's, The Food Emporium and SuperFresh locations in affluent, upper-middle-class neighborhoods with high education levels, where locals are interested in healthy lifestyles and entertaining friends. It was fully launched at all 16 Food Emporium locations beginning last week. By April 21, it will be rolled out to 42 A&P and 11 Waldbaum's stores, and by May 19, select Pathmark and SuperFresh stores will also be included.
The launch is part of a broad, comprehensive effort to reinvigorate A&P's fresh food offering. Similarly, the company last year announced an exclusive relationship with Premium Gold Angus, an Austin, Texas-based supplier of genetically certified Angus beef.
“In our fresh departments, we've really done a lot of different things during the past year,” said Sal Baio, vice president of fresh foods for A&P, during the press luncheon. “One of the things that we were challenged with, and one of the things that we've tried to do, is create unique offerings for our customers — [things] that are different, that you wouldn't see in other supermarkets in our market area.”
Rebecca Philbert, senior vice president of merchandising and supply and logistics, agreed.
“I'm very excited and proud of our fresh team and our Center Store team,” she said. “They're really reinventing the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.”