The demand for fresh, frozen and packaged foods is higher than usual amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Lagoon Seafood is well-positioned to meet myriad consumer needs. Founded by Said Cheaib in 1992, this Montreal-based supplier is a leading importer, processor, distributor and exporter of fresh and frozen seafood. Now, it’s working on improving processes, bringing new products to market and increasing efficiency to accommodate a seafood sales surge.
“We have a lot of experience in this industry and have established valuable relationships with fisherman across Canada,” says Michael Cheaib, Business Resources manager.
Lagoon Seafood is well known for its cod, haddock, squid, octopus and shrimp under its Blue Tide and Royal Harbour brands, and has partnered with a number of retail chains and distributors, including Metro, Adonis, IGA and Costco.
In addition to its Montreal headquarters, Lagoon Seafood acquired a freezer-equipped facility in the nearby town of Granby, Que. in 2019, and is now investing $10 million into the 25,000 sq.-ft. expansion of its newest facility. Expected to be completed in June 2022, the renovations will focus on extending the freezer, loading dock and production room. Once complete, Lagoon Seafood will be able to store more than 2,000 pallets of product in the freezer, reaching more than 50 feet in height.
“We’re at the point where we need to build a freezer to accommodate more product. Since the onset of COVID-19, we’ve had to store more, but space is limited so we want it to be self-sufficient,” says Cheaib. “This is the idea behind our expansion plan — accommodate a growing market and sales volumes.”
Lagoon Seafood sources its products from local fisheries and other parts of the world, including South America, Asia, Europe, West Africa and the Mediterranean. The pandemic caused a variety of disruptions to the company’s supply chain, including transportation delays, but Cheaib says these challenges aren’t insurmountable.
“It’s been difficult getting the product here on time, but through good management, we’ve been able to sustain our operations,” says Cheaib.
In fact, Lagoon Seafood recently hired three new sales representatives, bringing the total working in sales and marketing to 18 among a staff of 165 people across its processing facilities and business offices.
The company is also introducing a slate of new products, such as salmon tartare and bacon-wrapped scallops under its Blue Tide label, in response to increased consumer demand for ready-to-cook meals.
“It’s a segment more people are opening up to because it’s easy,” says Cheaib. “And our goal is to provide the consumer with what they want.”
To date, the company has received positive feedback regarding its new lineup of products, and is currently testing other ready-to-eat options. Although restaurant and foodservice sales dwindled, Cheaib says retail sales have taken on most of what the other segment lost. With COVID-19 recovery now on the horizon, Lagoon Seafood is confident sales will balance out again and they can
re-grow both facets.
“We’re not trying to sell an item, we’re providing a solution for consumer needs. We aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel, we’re just trying to provide an accessible and transparent brand.”
Written by Nicole Di Tomasso