THERE’S NEVER been a better time to buy seafood online. With the crushing impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry, seafood purveyors that once counted on wholesale business to restaurants and hotels have pivoted to direct-to-consumer online retail.
“It’s been survival mode,” said
president, CEO and chief fishmonger of Peter’s Florida Seafood. His company relied primarily on wholesale for 30 years, up until March of this year. Wholesale business in 2020 is still down by about 75% from what it was by this time last year, but online-retail sales of Florida stone crab claws and other fish caught in the state’s coastal waters have kept Mr. Jarvis in business and customers happy. “People are excited to get chef-quality seafood on a consistent basis, and it means a lot because they aren’t going out,” Mr. Jarvis said.
At Island Creek Oysters in Massachusetts, president
said, “We lost 98% of our core revenue overnight, which was selling oysters directly to top chefs around the country.” While Island Creek has run an online-retail operation as well for the last decade, “there were some years when it didn’t make sense to keep it going.” Beginning in March, that changed: “Within weeks of the shutdown, that [retail] part of the business really sprang to life.”
The companies below provide access to pristine seafood you would otherwise have to visit a restaurant to get. They’re transparent about their sourcing and vigilant about maintaining sustainable fisheries—though the profusion of packaging required to keep seafood cold and fresh in transit can be daunting to eco-conscious consumers. Whether stocking up for a holiday celebration or with an eye to healthier, omega-3-packed eating in the new year, cast your line here.
BEST SOURCES FOR SEAFOOD ONLINE
Wild Alaskan Company
This outfit offers monthly subscription plans with choices of salmon, white fish (such as halibut and cod), or a combination. All seafood is wild-caught sustainably in Alaska, flash frozen and packed in coolers with dry ice. Active members have access to special offerings including Dungeness and snow crab, which come broken down and pre-cooked for easy prep; Alaska’s cold waters make for highly flavorful and subtly sweeter meat. And the sablefish is exceptionally buttery. Monthly plans are easy to set-up thanks to a straightforward website and start at $132 for a 12-pack of 6-ounce portions. wildalaskancompany.com
A Wide Net
In addition to an almost overwhelming array of fish species, you’ll find all manner of seafood here. A 2-ounce jar of Hackleback caviar goes for $75; another sought-after roe, Bottarga Dell’Isola, runs $67 for 6 ounces; sea urchin starts at $23 for 60 grams. The shellfish selection is strong, from crab legs to lobster. Order à la carte or try the Fulton Fish Drop subscription, with weekly, biweekly and monthly drop-offs. The Try ‘Em All Box includes eight 6-ounce portions of two types of fish (from $90); Fulton Faves provides 4 salmon fillets, a pound of wild Gulf shrimp and a pound of wild dry jumbo sea scallops (about $100). fultonfishmarket.com
Island Creek Oysters
Based in Duxbury, Mass., this oyster farm now offers online shoppers oysters previously available only for wholesale to top restaurants. “When the pandemic hit, we had all these other farms looking at us asking, What are we going to do?” said Island Creek’s Chris Sherman. In addition to an expanded selection of oysters from a variety of farms, the company offers white sturgeon caviar, sea scallops, littleneck clams and high-quality tinned fish. A sampler of 3 dozen New England oysters goes for $95. Holiday packages include a mix of 2 dozen oysters, 30 grams caviar and a pound of frozen sea scallops for $125. shop.islandcreekoysters.com
Peter’s Florida Seafood
For a splurge or a celebration, Peter’s Florida Seafood is the go-to. This time of year, the state’s signature stone crab claws are in season. “It’s a favorite of so many people that have traveled in and out of Florida,” said CEO Peter Jarvis. Cooked before shipping and served cold, medium claws start from about $160 for two pounds (about 12 claws). Mr. Jarvis sources from a couple dozen fishermen around Florida’s coast and down to Key West. Sustainable aquaculture items unique to the region include Florida Royal Red shrimp (from about $40 for a pound) and spiny lobster tails (from about $50 for two 8-ounce tails). petersfloridaseafood.com
The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.
Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8