You’d think having nearly reached the age of 150 there’d be a little slowing down, a little graying around the temples, a meandering gait, a narrower view of the world. Yet The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, or A&P as it’s more widely known, continues to challenge the upstarts with fresh perspectives and new approaches to the supermarket business. Its latest innovation promises to bring fresh seasonal seafood delicacies, such as Alaskan Salmon, Red Snapper and Soft Shell Crab, daily to its neighborhood supermarkets.
Becoming the first supermarket chain in the Northeast to partner directly with a company from the world famous Fulton Fish Market at Hunt’s Point, Bronx, N.Y., A&P, under the “Seafood Joe’s Market Fresh Fish” trade name, will offer a wide seafood selection in select A&P, Waldbaum’s, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh and Pathmark locations. In addition, customers can select whole fish or shellfish at in-store seafood counters and have experts clean and prepare their purchase while shopping, or for pick-up later that day.
The company has also approved a new insulated seafood bag to ensure fish remains fresh. The special insulation maintains the correct temperature while also preventing seafood odors from escaping until the fish is ready for cooking.
“We are very excited to become the first supermarket to partner exclusively with an operator from the famed Fulton Fish Market, providing our customers with the widest selection of fresh seafood available,” said Eric Claus, President & CEO, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.
“Our new in-store Seafood Program will provide our customers with an expansive selection of fresh fish on a daily basis, including the ability for same-day pick-up on special orders. This is truly a first for the Northeast supermarket industry,” added Rebecca Philbert, A&P senior vice president, merchandising and supply & logistics.
As part of this program, the company will begin a new training program to educate in store seafood associates on the many different varieties of fish available and their seasonality; the proper way to clean fish, shellfish and other seafood; and the many options for preparing and cooking fresh seafood.
A total of 64 banner stores in the Northeast will benefit from this innovative Seafood Program with more stores launching throughout the year. Adding to this will be the upcoming launch of a unique new line of stuffing and marinating options – offering shoppers a variety of ways to complement their seafood dishes.
AN OCEAN OF CHANGES
“There have been significant changes (in retail seafood) over the past 10 to 15 years,” notes Philbert. “In the industry HACCP has become the standard. This has resulted in stricter regulation to ensure the healthiest fish source. The fish coming through the Fulton Fish market is perfectly aligned with these regulations, expertly controlling the temperature and maintaining a sterilized environment.”
Government regulations in terms of fishing have also helped from a sustainability standpoint, she explains. However, due to an increase in demand, as well as limited supplies, prices have risen. “Shrimp pricing is more mainstream and as such it comprises a significant portion of our offerings with two-pound bags and a bulk pack – both an exceptional value – with resounding customer feedback,” Philbert says. Fresh fish, although more costly, is still growing in target demographics.
To satisfy the need, the company has introduced an expansive ‘Fresh’ program. In fact, A&P is the only retailer in the Northeast to execute this type of program across four differentiated formats: Fresh, Price Impact, Discount and Gourmet. This operating strategy is one of the key drivers in propelling the company to become the number one supermarket in the region.
“In our Fresh and Gourmet formats, we have enacted a number of new strategies and dynamic programs such as the Seafood program which are consistently meeting customer’s needs,” Philbert says.
A&P has partnered with World Wide Seafood LLC to deliver the fresh seafood to its customers. World Wide, according to its Web site acts as a trade arm to procure & sell farmed fish and other seafood products from around the world to the United States of America and the rest of the world. The company, she notes, is renowned for its non-traditional products and innovative approach to meeting customers’ needs. “Partnering with World Wide offered us close proximity to day boats which reduces costs while also ensuring the highest quality,” Philbert says.
In addition, the Fulton Fish Market’s central location is perfect for Waldbaum’s, Pathmark North, Food Emporium, and A&P. Customers will be able to select whole fish or shellfish at in-store seafood counters and have experts clean and prepare their purchase while shopping, or for pick-up later that day. And the list of available fish comprises a veritable ocean feast: fresh flounder, fluke, grey sole, sword, tuna, halibut, cod, organic salmon, fresh shrimp, soft shell and hard shell crabs, whole whiting, porgies, red snapper, grouper, croakers, trout and bass and many other varieties traditionally offered only at specialty fish markets.
“We will also be featuring a unique program by which each store will feature a special fresh off the boat – not part of our usual program. These specials will be advertised in-store only in the seafood case,” she adds.
A&P is developing a Spice, Marinade and Stuffings product line which will enable the supermarket to design signature flavors to help customers create flavorful seafood dishes.
Next year, A&P will celebrate its 150th Anniversary, Philbert notes, “which clearly attests to our business acumen and ability to adapt and grow in an ever-changing society. Our format-driven strategy is based on our mission to continuously meet our customers’ needs through the development of innovations. A significant component of our innovation strategy is the re-launch of our private label brands which began this year with a complete revamp of the America’s Choice brand with a new logo and packaging.” The company also began introducing America’s Choice products in Pathmark with much success.
In this way A&P looks forward to serving customers for the next 150 years.