Boston Seafood Expo: A personal look back at 25 years of attendance

By Don Ehrlich :: March 25, 2019

This year marked my 25th Boston Seafood Show. What has surprised me is how much it has changed over the years, and how much has stayed the same.

When I first started going to the show was downtown at the Copley Center. The show took over the Sheraton and the entire Back bay area. I can remember one year the cigar smoke in the Sheraton lobby was so thick we had to get on the floor to see where we were going. At that time probably 95% of the participants were men; the seafood industry was an old boys club where most of the business was done at dinner or at the bar afterward. Being a vendor to the industry it was tough to get people’s attention to discuss freight forwarding and logistics.

But now the show has moved south to the Boston Convention Center. And it has grown. This year there were more new exhibitors and the entire exhibition hall was full. It was great to see all the new companies that have started to participate, those who in years past would have only walked the floor. And yes, it is very nice to see that participants have gender balanced to 50-50 men and women. It shows the seafood industry has developed into a healthy, successful career choice for women. Many of the decision makers we met with this year were women.

We found the usual topics of fresh sales and logistics were competing with new business opportunities regarding importation and distribution. Many companies are now looking globally for supply sourcing when in the past they may have only thought domestically or regionally. We saw many opportunities to bring our technology and IT systems to help organize and track customer’s shipments. I predict a busy year for our IT guys.

There has been a real evolution in the discussions for us over the last 25 years. Before customers were solely price driven but now we see customers making decisions based on the logistics options. We are being included in the front end discussions because getting the product to market is more complicated and quite often can be the determining factor of the deal. In the past no one really wanted to talk to a vendor on the first and most of the second day of the show. This year, we started at 7:30 Sunday morning and ran until they turned off the lights Tuesday.

Below you can see the video with a summary of this year’s three day feels-like-a-marathon-is-really-a-sprint.