Trusting Brands, Retrofitting the Supply Chain, and Evolving the Customer Experience: A Rallying Cry for the Seafood Industry…

By: Oliver Luckett


When our company, Digisynd, was first bought by Disney, one of my heroes, Bob Iger, introduced our small rag-tag team as the insurgents. Later, I learned what he meant: “You are here in the belly of the beast, you are real, BUT you don’t have to follow the rules, the status quo does not apply to you!”

It was a bizarre thing to say, but by coming into Disney from a totally different world, we had an intrinsic advantage. When my husband and I took a giant leap to move to Iceland from LA, we learned that we had the “eyes of the guest.” With Niceland Seafood this is often how we feel. Our co-founder, Heida came from a disruptive political movement called the “Best”, and I am coming from a world of storytelling and imagination. We’re the outsiders now inside, and we’re looking at things with fresh eyes. In this moment, where there is NO CHOICE BUT TO EVOLVE OUR INDUSTRY, here’s a peek into what we’re doing!

It is second nature for us to look to technology and imagination as the two keys to building a better seafood future. There’s no better time than now for trusted seafood brands like Niceland to double down on disruption and provide the products and education people need at the shopper level, which is why at Niceland we’re focused on retrofitting the supply chain into a “Super Chain”, advancing our consumer product offerings, and investing in high-tech shopper experiences with a touch of magic.

Brands build trust in fresh and frozen seafood   

With statistics like 47% of the sushi in LA being mislabeled, and characters like the “Cod Father” running amuck and exposes like “Rotten’s, Cod is Dead” on Netflix or the “Anatomy of a Bribe” on Al Jazeera, the world is constantly reinforcing the consumer’s distrust in seafood. What other “legal” industry has upwards of 47% consumer fraud? We’ve collectively broken consumer trust with fraudulent products, mixed messages, too many labels, impotent consortiums, and a blinding lack of transparency. Add a novel virus into this mix, and you’ve got seafood counters closing down, shoppers steering clear of unpackaged foods (especially fresh seafood and meat counters), and those scoop bins you know the ones with dirty little hands in them all day (I know, I was once one of the samplers :-).

At the same time, frozen seafood seems like a lowest common denominator shopping experience, when in fact the actual product is better than ever. There has been very little innovation on the packaging, messaging, and education to match the incredible innovation on the back-end: from Marel’s x-ray powered AI water lasers to Cyclone chillers to Time Temperature Recorders that are the size of business cards, to RFID inventory tracking in coolers. At Niceland, we have tapped into our curiosity and a network of interdisciplinary experts to employ technology and to reimagine the system. Now is the time to connect the dots and evolve the industry, if we collaborate and work together… all the boats must rise!

In the past 6 weeks, Niceland and its partners have made new investments in frozen products, packaging technologies. We are working tirelessly on improving the supply chain, writing new platforms to provide end-to-end visibility, and maybe by empathetically digging deep into the consumer’s mind we can overcome the barriers that about one half of all American consumers have to purchasing seafood. We’re starting on this path to frozen with individual portions of wild-caught Icelandic cod and haddock (the same cod and haddock chefs buy from us), shipped via new “long-haul” eco-boxes with TTR’s and packaged into branded bags and boxes that display our TraceabiliT™ digital experience to show shoppers the story behind their fish.


Evolving the shopper experience

New products aren’t the solution alone. All research indicates that education is the number one thing shoppers want to make a purchase. So let’s educate. We’ve seen what end-to-end visibility can do to positively influence purchasing decisions, and we have improved our digital “timeline” experience so that it answers all of the questions we know consumers have: How long has this fish been on shelf? Which location has my favorite kind of Icelandic fish in stock? What’s the flavor and texture of this species like? How long will this fish last in my fridge? How do I safely handle and deliciously prepare this? In doing more work at the last mile, our goal is to help people choose, cook, and store fish with more confidence to ultimately increase seafood sales and reduce post-consumer waste. We’re collaborating with our retail partners to address perception challenges so that we can, together, identify the best solutions for improved shopper experience. We and our partners at EFNI are building high-tech solutions with some of the masterminds behind music festival experiences that will make shopper education more seamless, brand marketing more consistent, inventory better tracked and reduce risk of food safety issues.

I encourage leaders in seafood, retail, and food tech to get in touch with me if you’re curious about what we’re working on. As Walt himself famously said, “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”

to be continued…

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