Mar 3, 2021

Alaska Seafood Processing Top Needs & Pain Points & How NorthScope Can Help

2020 Alaska Seafood Processing List of Resources Blog Image

Navigating the waters of the Alaska Seafood industry can be rough (all puns intended), but especially after as unpredictable of a year as 2020 was. COVID-19 brought unprecedented challenges to the industry that changed the landscape and introduced new challenges for fishermen and processors alike. In addition to these new challenges induced by COVID-19, we’ve outlined some of the latest top needs and pain points Alaska Seafood Processors are facing along with how NorthScope can help solve them.

1. Need: Increased efficiencies to address a shrinking workforce

Alaska seafood industry experts are concerned about the workforce, and rightfully so. Not only are fewer young people becoming fishermen (thanks in large part to the high cost of entry in the industry), there is also a shortage in processing plant workers. So, with a shrinking workforce, what are you to do? Become more efficient! Increasing efficiencies allows you to rely less on your manual workforce. And, with NorthScope, you can actually cut out manual processes entirely, reducing manual data entry and increasing efficiencies. For example, NorthScope provides automated processes for Fish Ticket integrations with eLandings, Taxes & Premiums, Price Lists, and more!

2. Need: More skilled workforce to address advanced technologies in the industry.

Not only is the workforce shrinking for Alaska Seafood Processors, but the expectations of that workforce is changing as well, making it even more complicated to find the right people for the job. A few decades ago, unskilled labor dominated the processing plant but now there is a technical skill set needed for things such as computer sciences, robotic operators and programmers, maintenance people, etc. but there isn’t a sufficient training program for workers to learn those skill sets needed, leaving you with less options. So what do you do when your industry is embracing technology more and more but your workforce isn’t keeping up? You invest in technology that is intuitive and easy-to-use with a team behind it that provides industry-leading service, training, and support. (Like NorthScope!)

3.    Pain Point: Condensing of industry due to continued acquisitions and mergers by large processors

Similar to its workforce, the Alaska Seafood industry is changing in size – it’s condensing due to continued acquisitions and mergers by large processors. According to IntraFish, major factors driving consolidation include “overcapacity in salmon processing, inefficient plants (see above on how we can help with that!), and erratic returns for some species.” In fact, just this past June we saw two power houses in the seafood industry come together with the Cooke-owned Icicle and Ocean Beauty merger, becoming OBI Seafoods. And, the mergers aren’t expected to stop with many predicting more on the horizon, especially after the higher costs incurred due to the pandemic. With the landscape of your industry ever-changing, competitors banding together or even your company undergoing a merger or acquisition, what can you do to set your company up for success and be as resilient as possible? You can make sure your systems and processes are flexible and scalable and are providing the insight you need to be strategic. NorthScope can help by providing a standalone system that helps processors of all sizes gain better visibility into their business to make more informed business decisions.

4.Pain Point: Increase in competition for quality fishermen

With less fishermen in the industry (as we mentioned in point 1), the competition for quality fishermen increases. And, with mergers and acquisitions, you’re competing with bigger players who may be better-equipped to pay more for the catch. And, with fishermen valuing competition to get the best price and have more options as well as advocacy for the fishermen as well as the region, what can you do to stand out from the competition and motivate fishermen to want to fish for you? You need to serve them as best as you can and build that relationship. How? One way is with software such as NorthScope that provides Fisherman Accounting functionality to better serve your fishermen. For a complete guide to serving your fishermen, check out our eBook.

5. Pain Point: Shrinking margins due to increased Global competition

Between the effects of tariffs and the competition with farmed salmon from Norway and pollock and Pacific cod from Russia, the global landscape for Alaska Seafood was challenging enough. Then, COVID-19 hit and the priority for many processors became minimizing the spread of coronavirus, which may have made matters worse as according to Seafood Source “some processors may be questioning whether all the trouble and expense was worth it, as lower prices combined with a distressed global economy and supply chain issues to drive down profits.” The pandemic has caused major disruptions to Alaska Seafood processors competing at the global scale. Seafood Source summarized these disruptions documented in a report by McDowell Group as, “disruptions to foreign trade due to global lockdowns and fewer international flights, and lower demand in the domestic market for fresh fish, and the result was sockeye prices falling by around 50 percent this year in Bristol Bay. Halibut and Pacific cod harvest values also declined, the McDowell report found, while pollock prices remained stable. And companies were unable to perform as much value addition as usual, dealing another blow to their product mix and their bottom lines.” However, even prior to the pandemic, global competition was stiff. In fact, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute international director, Hannah Lindoff, explained, “We think of ourselves as having the greatest seafood in the world, but we are only two percent of the world supply and we are up against a lot of competition.” So what can you do to combat shrinking margins and increasing global competition? You can cut costs, increase efficiencies, and optimize your business. All of this can be done with the help of your software. For instance, NorthScope provides Sales and Inventory functional areas that provide better visibility of costs and opportunities so you can make strategic decisions better and faster. NorthScope also helps you streamline your business processes, which helps increase your efficiencies and productivity – all of which helps your bottom line.

If you’re tired of suffering through these pain points, learn how NorthScope can help.