WORTH THE INVESTMENT
There’s no getting around the need for a
relatively more sophisticated—and often
more expensive—freezer display when
it comes to offering frozen fish food. The
price is offset by the extra foot traffic that
frozen foods bring in-store, retailers note.
“Freezers are expensive, so it can be
an issue to display [frozen foods] properly,”
said Fritz Grimm, owner of Saltwater
Empire in Bloomington, Minn.
Ultimately, though, the benefits
outweigh the costs, retailers reported.
“Having frozen food in-store is a good
thing,” said Nick Gianakos, manager at Fish
Nook Pet Center in Acton, Mass.
By carrying a variety of product, he’s
able to increase traffic and earn additional
“I sell to a wide variety of marine and
freshwater hobbyists,” he said.
The Frozen Advantage
BY E THAN D. MIZER
An assortment of quality frozen fish food stimulates repeat business and provides con- sumers with access to superior nutrition for
various a;uarium fish species, according a;uatic
specialists in the pet industry.
;n average, customers return to the store to
purchase fro;en foods ;; times per year, said ;a-son ;neppo, research and development manager
for San Francisco Bay Brand and Ocean Nutrition
Americas, head;uartered in ;ewark, ;alif. In contrast, customers feeding only dry foods will return
only two to three times per year, he added.
;hile the benefits of offering fro;en food
products are clear, there are some challenges pet
specialty stores face in the a;uatic segment. ;om-
pared to other pet-related hobbies, a;uariumkeep-
ing is often considered harder on the wallet. For
that reason, retailers reported, shoppers can be
;;;ustomers; weren’t willing to pay extra
;for certain expensive fro;en foods;,; said Frank
Schmidt Sr., owner of ;oral ;eef Pet ;enter in
;orridge, Ill. ;;e carry the ;ikari and San Fran-
cisco ;ay ;rand ;lines;, and they work well for us.;
Saltwater a;uariums are increasingly popular,
retailers note, and more novices are willing to try
their hand at keeping more-elaborate marine set-
ups. ;ith many saltwater species benefiting from
fro;en offerings, Tom ;ewman, manager at ;a-
terbury A;uarium in ;aterbury, ;onn., said he’s
seen some modest sales growth in the category.
;;e see a lot more people trying to step up to
saltwater,; said ;ewman, adding that the ;ikari
and ;mega ;ne lines perform well for the store.
With little competition and the potential for repeat sales, frozen food
offerings can help retailers grow their customer base.
Frozen foods have been a staple offering in fish
stores for years. Sales remain steady for most of
the popular items, retailers reported, with a few
“Nutramar Ova is back ,” said Fritz Grimm,
owner of Saltwater Empire in Bloomington, Minn.
“That’s been a hot seller.”
Hikari brand frozen foods have done the best
in-store, Grimm added.
Several retailers reported success with multiple
lines of frozen foods.
“We sell a lot of Hikari frozen fish food,” said
Sam Mintz, aquarist at Aquaridise in East Brunswick,
N.J. “Piscine Energetics and San Francisco Bay Brand
also do well for us. We do pretty good numbers on all
three of those. Hikari is probably our best-seller.”
Cobalt International recently released a line of
food that is performing strongly in-store, said Nick
Gianakos, manager at Fish Nook Pet Center in
“We just recently brought in the Larry’s LRS
Frenzy,” Gianakos added. “I’ve only had the Larry’s
brand for about a month now, and it’s been selling
very well. I get asked a lot more for the Larry’s than I
did [other brands].”
San Francisco Bay Brand has introduced fish
eggs and Coral Cuisine cubes, said Jason Oneppo,
research and development manager for San Fran-
cisco Bay Brand and Ocean Nutrition Americas,
headquartered in Newark, Calif.
“Coral Cuisine is a mixture of phytoplankton,
zooplankton and macroalgae,” he said, adding that
the food is formulated to stimulate corals’ natural
Ocean Nutrition has introduced its Formula Food
Flat Packs, including Reef Formula One, Reef Formula
Two, Fish Only Formula and Predator Formula.
The foods are manufactured in the USA and
do not contain any binders, artificial preservatives,
added colors or terrestrial vegetable matter as a
source of vitamins, he said.
BY JOHN DAWES
It’s ama;ing how far the ornamental a;uatic industry has advanced over the past ;; to ;; years. It is to be expected, but every once in awhile, we come across an appar- ently minor document or anecdote that knocks matters into spectacular perspective.
;ne such incident occurred to a colleague of mine, Paul ;akuwel, secretary general of
;rnamental Fish International ;;FI;, at a conference in ;olombo, Sri ;anka, in February.
;e came across a telegram that was sent out on ;une ;;, ;;;;, by a now-disappeared
Singapore exporter of ornamental fish, Teo ;ay ;ong, to importer Abdul Ally Mods-bhoy, based in ;olombo.
In it, we see that a total of ;;; fish were shipped out from Singapore on the vessel
SS Penang Maru. The invoice listed a total of ;ust eight species, the main ones being angelfish ;;;; specimens in two ;ars; and platies ;;;; specimens in one ;ar;. Since, in those
days, few ships carried ornamental fish on board, Abdul was asked to give the chief
The difficulties brick-and-mortar retailers face from online competition are well
documented these days. However, the frozen fish food category could prove to be a
Because of frozen products’ temperature requirements and price points, most
retailers reported actually having an advantage over online and other competitors.
“There’s probably a competitive advantage over online [retailers],” said Nick Gi-
anakos, manager at Fish Nook Pet Center in Acton, Mass. “Most of the time, if you’re
buying frozen stuff online, the shipping is expensive. You’re probably paying two to
four times the cost of the actual food to get it shipped to your door. So having [those
products] in-store is a good thing.”
Also, the higher entry costs involving freezer displays might be a hidden benefit
for retailers. Stores not primarily concerned with serving the aquarium hobby may
forgo the added expense, leaving little local competition for retailers that offer
products in the category.
This is a win-win for retailers and manufacturers, because brick-and-mortar
retailers reported being able to offer a wider variety of frozen foods, driving repeat
“Frozen fish food is not available from mass retail stores, and online purchasing
is either unavailable or has a high shipping cost,” said Jason Oneppo, research and
development manager for San Francisco Bay Brand and Ocean Nutrition Americas,
headquartered in Newark, Calif. “This all leads to customers returning to your store.”
A COMPETITIVE EDGE?
Sri Lankan Meeting Offers
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